Daily Archives: August 20, 2015

Does Someone Else’s Misery Make You Happy?

Maybe you’ve heard by now that Josh Duggar is one of the people whose Ashley Madison account has been exposed by the data hack of the Ashley Madison website, which is a website married people can sign up on to instigate an extramarital affair. Maybe you had already heard that Duggar had been exposed recently as someone who had sexually molested some of his sisters while he was a teen. Maybe you don’t care. I’ve never been interested in the Duggars, but I read something today that got me to thinking.

I suppose the public response is no different than the one that occurs whenever someone who proclaims to be moral falls from grace. Jim Bakker and several others were shown to be hypocritical. When I saw the gleeful reaction today, though, it sent me to Google to look up “joy in another’s misfortune.” Apparently, this is extremely common, and explains why I never understood why people would laugh at someone who tripped and fell, or dropped their drink in the theater.

I’ve always thought it was mean to laugh at someone who does something embarrassing. Does that mean I take life too seriously? Would I be lighter overall if I laughed when people fell from places low and high?

Yep, Josh Duggar is in a world of hurt. Standing in a place of leadership about traditional family values and yet having the molestation in his past and the infidelity in his present. But I still feel sorry for the guy. He has been living a duplicitous life and that’s not easy to live with. Seems like anyone with a conscience would be wondering if any minute they were going to get found out. And the longer the hypocrisy goes on, the worse it is to get out of.

Let’s think about what he might have done instead. I don’t know the ins and outs of when he got married, became a father, became the head of whatever organization it is. But, all along he’s apparently been dealing with desires and urges that are decidedly incompatible with his upbringing and his brand of faith. From what I understand about the more fundamentalist brand, sexual urges are pretty much taboo. A man can have sex with his wife, maybe only in the missionary position (not sure about this), and that’s it. No masturbation. No pornography. No racy movies. No erotic literature. No affairs.

Although I don’t think all of those things are universally detrimental, I do not see how affairs could ever be healthy, even though there are people out there practicing polyamory, and some of them make it work. My belief is that monogamy is the best choice for a married couple. But masturbation, pornography, racy movies, erotic literature? Individual choice. I can’t psychoanalyze the man, and I can’t explain why he’s done what he’s done, but I still feel like it must be incredibly agonizing to be found out. To be such a public voice against the very things he has been indulging in.

So, it doesn’t make me happy to see him fall, except in the sense that perhaps this will be a step towards healing and wholeness. Maybe my deep and abiding experiences with shame in my life have made me a little more compassionate toward anyone who experiences it, I don’t know.

Sad indeed.