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Millions of hurtful interactions are taking place this very second. Arguments, yelling matches, punches, pushes, angry looks, hurtful tones, spiteful words, shouting, put downs, insults, and the endless stream of abusive posts amongst people on the internet.

Hurting plays a huge part in our lives. When we did something wrong, our parents punished us. If we drive recklessly, we can get into an accident. If we hold our breath, we suffocate. It’s undeniable that we live in a universe of natural laws and of cause and effect. If it wasn’t like this, then how would we learn?

But so often, hurting gets into places that it shouldn’t and we can end up harming those around us completely unnecessarily. To take an extreme example, it’s like the difference between sentencing a criminal to jail justly with fair trial and humane conditions versus a public flogging and torture in which the crowd revels in their suffering.

To be better people and have a better world, we can separate the enactment and follow through of consequences that come as the result of bad actions, from the desires and urges to harm others and even feel a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment in seeing them suffer. And I think that’s a really important distinction to make in all the events of our lives, whether we’re dealing with a family member, friend, stranger, criminal or corrupt government etc., as the desire to see others harmed can cause us to become even worse than any perceived bad action that triggered our response in the first place.

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