It’s a basic tenet of Buddhism, and no matter whether someone comes from the East or the West, it is a universal theme: Everybody suffers. It’s a fact of life. Even the happiest person in the world likely suffers since they are probably attached to their joy for fear of what they would otherwise feel.
Ok, attachment is going deeper than I wanted to, but the point is that suffering is unavoidable. And now research shows that men apparently enjoy seeing some people suffer (their enemies), while women feel empathy. When I heard about this study, I thought to myself, well, that might be true for the people they studied, but I know that I’m not that way.
No less than four hours later, I find myself watching a new game show on Comedy Central called Distraction. The premise is simple: three people compete for a brand new car, all while being distracted. In the first round, everyone is hooked up to electric dog collars and is shocked every few seconds so they can’t concentrate on the answers. I nearly keeled over with laughter.
Round two has everyone with live snakes stuffed down their pants. Then live maggots (snake food) are poured into the clear plastic underpants that the contestants are wearing, and the snakes get dinner. At this point, I’m literally rolling on the floor.
Round three? Well, it involved overweight naked women who hadn’t showered. Enough said.
The point is that I enjoyed the heck out of this show, even though people were getting shocked and bitten. It wasn’t until the final round – when the final contestant has to answer questions while her opponents take sledgehammers and spray paint to the new car – that I realized what I was enjoying. No, the contestants were being shot at or tortured, but getting zapped with electricity isn’t exactly a pleasant thing.
The whole episode made me realize just how much our society desensitizes us to suffering. Does that mean I’ll never watch Distraction again? Not necessarily. But I know I’ll be mindful of how watching it can affect my perspective (and that of others) about the world around me.