Is it a universal truth that we all know instinctively what is right from what is wrong (apart from psychopaths that is)? I mean we all did it as kids, even if it wasn't an experience that you'd had before, (so there were no actual rules attached to it), you were still aware that putting the cat in the paddling pool was, on some very fundamental level, wrong. But you still did it. Why? Even more obliquely, you were, and still are, aware that action is quite possibly followed by consequence. For my part I was spotted and sent to my bedroom to spend the rest of the afternoon to ponder the mess the cat had made of my arms.
So, I'm going to assume that this is a basic instinct. And the more we find out, the more sophisticated we become in the nuances of correct social behaviour, the more opportunities we have to "do the wrong thing". Simple social situations like over dinner conversation are littered with prospects not only for faux pas, but real naughtiness. I don't mean the ill judged, foot-in-mouth, "Tony must be working tonight" to Janet, who broke up with Tony last Wednesday, but the "I saw Tony the other day, he looked great" to Janet when you know that she broke up with Tony a month ago. Wrong, and socially reprehensible, and for what? Because Janet warned her sister Molly, (publicly), that you were a drunken womaniser, not to be trusted within a hundred feet of ladies underwear and quite possibly a sexual deviant? Or perhaps it's because she just drank the last of the Rioja....or, as I'm beginning to suspect, because it was simply fun.
In a very childlike way it reminded me of the frisson of danger associated with stealing gates, tying door knockers together or bundling dog crap up in newspaper and leaving it ablaze on someone's doorstep, and knowing full well that there was a distinct possibility that you would get caught in the act. The looks of horror and recognition (that you knew that Janet and Tony were no longer an item and she was still very upset because Katie had told you last week), the wave of guilt and shame like adrenalin flushing into your face, and the act of control necessary to say "pass the salad please" resulting in a delight similar to an endorphin rush following a successfully digested jalapeno pepper.
I'm saying this as if it were just playfulness, but here's a description that fits another word....."showing malicious ill will and a desire to hurt motivated by being........." can you guess what it is?
It's okay though, I'll pay for it. I'm a great believer in what goes around comes around. When I hear the phrase, "there's no justice" I wince. I think that if you could stand far enough away from the world, but still keep it in focus, you would see all of the consequences of every tiny action. Like ripples on a pond, spreading out and interacting, changing and reforming but still keeping a tiny fragment of the moment when they were created....eventually returning, infinitely slowly, to bite you in the arse. I'm still puzzled by how the incident with the cat is connected with my tent catching fire but I'm sure that justice was done.
Oh yes, the word was "spiteful"