Daily Thoughts, February 16, 2002
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Humor

It is hard to not laugh at a good joke. The challenge is that we often define humor to include the specific words, metaphors, or other descriptions of people that makes them different from ourselves. Cultures are ridiculed. Economic conditions described in funny ways, at least to the person who is not in that condition. Characteristics, especially ones that make a person unique, are held up in jest.

I find that I increasingly find myself squirming in discomfort when I find myself in the presence of these words or situations. Perhaps it is because the humor now as a face to it.

When someone makes a joke about blue-collar workers I see friends working in New York’s fish-market. The faceless workers take on names, have families, and struggle with the good and bad things of life facing us all.

The joke about Indian accents strikes home because I have found that I am a person of “Indian origin.” The humor no longer applies to someone else; it applies to people who have the same origins that I do!

Even this week my extended family came through in the accent I do not know I have. Southern jokes were personal to two of us; clearly aimed at the one who lives in Georgia and mutually shared because she identified with my inability to say certain words and phrases in a way different from her own.

I often forget my accountability for the words I use. As I reflect I find myself muddling in a pool of sorrow for words spoken and for lost opportunities to express compassion. I recognize that “whoever mocks poor people, insults their Creator; gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime” (Proverbs 17.5).

The past can be a teacher. Today my words can make a difference. Today you can give a priceless gift to those around you. Imagine; humor wrapped in acceptance, diversity, mercy, nurture, love, and new beginnings. The opportunity to carry this gift is present with each because of what God has already done; what we do today is up to us.

February 15, 2002
February 17, 2002