Friday, April 24, 2015

These Are the Jokes, Folks

This article from NPR's Goats and Soda page was a delightful antidote to a lot of what has been ailing me this week. The title?

Mr. Toilet And Mr. Condom Think Jokes Will Save The World

Take the time to read it. It's fascinating. The author investigates a session at the 12th Skoll World Forum for Social Change, entitled, "What's So Funny? The Role of Comedy in Social Change." Reading the article made me think of something that is too often in short supply in Howard County: a sense of humor.

We are all guilty of taking ourselves and our issues too seriously upon occasion--some of us more often than others. One has only to think of the brouhaha which ensued when the Board of Education went after Cindy Vaillancourt for using the word "condom" at a dinner session where high school students were present. In fact, the more serious they became in their protestations of impropriety, the more hilarious they themselves became.

I really think the entire school system would run more successfully of those in power were able to laugh at themselves more. Playfulness and a sense of humor are signs of flexibility. Flexibility leads to collaboration. Collaboration leads to inclusion. Inclusion leads to transformation.

You see where I am going here.

When you make people laugh, they listen to you.

This message from Mr. Condom to Mr. Toilet is a good message for all of us, and not just the school system, although I'm clearly singling them out as an example here. The more I hear people around town rant in deadly seriousness about how Columbia is going to hell in a handbasket, the more I want to pull away and tune out. Hammering away at people with your truth is not a good way to get people on board.

Humor can be transformative. It can encourage people to relax, open up, think new thoughts. And there's the challenge. Sometimes those in power don't want people to think new thoughts. Those new thoughts might not be their thoughts.

I'm going to try to loosen up a bit today, take myself a bit less seriously, and look for the humor as I go through my day. Try it. Let me know what you learn.

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