4/12/2012

Close your eyes. You may fall with them wide open.



An ability to laugh at oneself is an asset when making friends and gaining followers. This point is being made when observing how the 2012 presidential campaign in the United States is unfolding. The current primary candidates have still to use humor in gaining voter appreciation. Pundits have declared that one candidate is better than the other. However, both are rather lackluster. Where are their speechwriters, you ask?
            When our family moved to England from Poland in mid-1980s, we quickly learned, that in order to gain friends, we needed to be seen and heard poking fun at ourselves. “Don’t take yourself too seriously. Tell jokes about yourself, your culture, your national vices and history,” I was advised.
            Having a couple of funny bones in my body, I was quick to invade the British in their own castles. Simply speaking, my castle was too small for them to enter, I declared. It worked. Meeting together in their funny castles, I was happy to eat their food, too. It was cheaper to live in England that way. [British food?]
            My sense of humor comes to a halt when I see insensitivity on display, especially when respect for people’s differences is at stake, and you are trying to be humorous at the same time.
            My email box brought a short animation video entitled The Missing Link, created by a college student, Tyler Fishell, and touted as a “premiere” on the Guide Magazine web page. The film is to poke fun at evolution, as a brief promo in a local church magazine explained. The clip features a conversation between a Veja-Link [Adventist kids will resonate with it’s culinary dominance in their homes] and a piece of Bologna [understood by everybody else]. Funny, you say.
            Even before I watched the video, intended for grade-school age kids, I wondered what difference there could be between the fake protagonists when in terms of their organic fakeness, there is no difference. In my book, both are health hazards.           
            But then the film got me interested, though I concluded whether the kids would catch the lofty arguments. Would the subtlety in the humor be understood, I wondered. At least the little film offers a departure point for the adults to step in with additional comments. After all it was only 1:28-minute long. Attracted by the title, I thought that this could provide a world record in explaining what is the “missing link” that puts creationism and evolution on a warpath, and justly declaring the winner!
            For my liking, the problem arrived at the very end with an opinion snap – “Speaking of blindness.” In the film, the kids are introduced to a “world famous scientist,” professor Bologna. He is asked where “humble Veja-Link” came from. It appears that the explanation is not very satisfying. Not only the lean, fake “textured vegetable protein” was making me wonder about my own body fat but the professor was a foreigner, stodgy, old and … wearing dark glasses. In the film script he simply does not win the argument. As prof. Bologna walks away from the set with his white cane, and he walks into an obstacle and falls (implied). In a faint off-camera voice, the young audience hears professor’s comment that he should have brought along a guide dog.
            Then the words … “Speaking of blindness.”
            Am I too sensitive to read beyond what was intended in introducing a faith-science debate to grade school kids and deliver it in an engaging and humorous style? Yet my quest to understand the world of blindness and disability teaches me that respect for the other one is paramount in making our society a livable domain.
            What about the arguments themselves? There is plenty to stand on for a Christian who reads the Book of Genesis, and lives by faith. I also agree that sculpting of the Mount Rushmore Monument is an example of a short-time creation. And ha, ha, ha, basing your creation argument on a man-made art is actually funny.  [Yes, I know, it’s just a film and not much in it is real! It’s an animation, Ray!] I guess there at least two layers in the film I am recognizing: How one explains difficult themes in life, including where and when we were created, and the manner in how we teach children respecting other. Also those who disagree with us.
            This brings me to my initial point. People who are blind also laugh at themselves and they are best at it. Allow yourself to recognize, if needed, what is funny in their everydayness.  By being engaged with what a blind person recognizes as comedy or a funny moment, we realize that our education is not over. Will you ever stop being a kid who laughs at a mishap due to a misstep or when missing the direction? No. However, what may be at stake here is having enough discernment between what can be considered as intellectual (perhaps) blindness, and a physical one.
            Am I being oversensitive and ridiculous? If yes, it wouldn’t be the first time. Therefore, let me hit my head against the wall. At least I know that it wasn’t created several billion years ago, yet it will last longer than my banged-up forehead.

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