When a society loses its sense of humor – and it can – things go dark. We are at that moment, need to keep our humor. In tough times, WWII, Great Depression, Soviet rule, hope got elusive, no light at midnight. Troubles dogged everyone. Losing them was like losing a shadow. In such times, humor preserves humanity, captures reality, stirs fight, soothes the soul, saves the day. Even if we are not in those times today, humor matters.
Ronald Reagan used to retell jokes crafted by beleaguered Russians. They knew their government and wanted change. In time, they got it. During martial law in Poland, last days of Soviet rule, jokes – containing truth – abounded. Hearing them lifted hearts, shined a light, and mocked the censors.
Three dogs, one American, one Polish, one Soviet, exchanging views. “In America, you bark, and they bring meat,” said the American dog. “What is meat?” asked the Pole. “What is bark?” asked the Soviet dog. Bingo!
Dissidents decried the failed Soviet Socialist economy, overcentralized, dysfunctional – the private sector suppressed. Another: A Soviet citizen needed a drier, so put money down and asked for a delivery date. The Government told him it would be in ten years, on a Thursday. The fellow asked, “morning or afternoon?” “What does it matter?” said the Government.
“Well, the washing machine is coming in the morning,” said the citizen. Humor mocking Communism.
So, humor matters, spits in the eye of adversity and censor, plus keeps us sane. We need to value laughter, call absurd things absurd. If we lose this ability, a knack for laughing at ourselves and the government, we lose strength. Humor corrects what is intolerably wrong – by lampooning it.
That is why the oppression machine hates humor – because there is no response. Humor cuts too quickly make an insulated bureaucrat and arrogant politician uncomfortable. It puts light in dark corners, scattering what lives there. That, of course, is the other great value – humor helps put things right, fortifies those who know wrong-is-wrong, and gives teeth and bite to liberty.
Putting a finer a point on it, the radical left is humorless – because they know they are wrong, imposing what they have no right to, taking and spending what is not theirs, lecturing from elected and appointed posts and monopoly positions. In time, they are reachable, can be held accountable, are not beyond rebuke, will answer for excess. Humor gets the process going.
Moreover, good people lift each other in adversity – like when “woke folks” try to silence honest dissent. Humor lightens the load, reaffirms the grip, validates, and helps right the ship.
Gradually, thoughtful Americans are discovering the power of humor. And just in time. Whether about the Chinese pandemic, lockdowns, political clowns, crazy legislation, Biden’s mental health, or the Democrats’ rash grab for power, jokes are starting to surface and get retold.
This has the left worried. Their humorless treatment of a humorless president is catching up with them. Stupidities of the moment, a standing Army in Washington, trillion-dollar bills, stumbling internationally, censoring average people, banning children’s books, bumbling at microphones, are making radical Democrats and media pals the butt of underground humor.
How revealing that the Washington Post, last week, bemoaned their humorless president.
“The first crisis of the Biden administration could be looming: America may have a president, the first in generations, who is impervious to impressionists.” Hardly. Their lackluster leader is an empty suit, legislation an abomination, claims of mandate, bipartisanship, and unity pure fraud.
The radical left’s disrespect for traditional American values, individual rights, love of light – free speech, worship, assembly, gun ownership, election integrity, real borders, rule of law, police officers, human biology, right to work laws, and States’ rights – are motivating people to fight – and laugh. Radicals cannot joke about their run-amuck agenda, which why Americans must.
Ronald Reagan was a great leader, not just for shining levity’s bright light on Soviet illegitimacy, elevating human dignity, defending freedom, and calling out government overreach – but because he understood the humor. Humor shames the shameless, embarrasses the arrogant, levels the playing field, and tells you something about the teller.
So, humor is a tool and tonic we cannot lose. Reagan’s strength – for all the world to see – was as much in his self-deprecating jokes as those he told to unseat Communism. He poked at his age, Hollywood background, Irish roots – and we loved it. He was not above celebrating the foibles of the common man, and freedom in the common man’s hands.
On his last trip, conveniently to Ireland, he walked a Reagan Clan cemetery. Retelling the story, he came upon a stone that read, “Where you are now, so once was I; where I am now, so too you’ll be, so be content to follow me.” Reagan laughed aloud, saying that was too much for some Irishman, who scratched below: “To follow you I am content, just wish I knew which way you went!” We are all human, and humor makes the point. Humor lightens the heart and – in dark days – preserves us. Let us not forget. Humor, parody, satire, and whimsy have power.
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