Varying perspectives is a common source of humor. The following joke changes a little every time I tell it. It is not an original, but is appropriate and funny for most audiences:
A guy and his friend are on a hunting trip when the friend slips and falls down a steep incline. The guy makes his way down to the bottom to check on his friend. As much as the guy tries to rouse his friend, the friend is unresponsive. The guy calls 911 and says, “You’ve got to help me! My buddy is dead.” The operator replies, “Calm down, sir. First let’s be sure he’s really dead.” There is a silence followed by a gunshot. The man comes back on the line and says, “Okay, now what?”
This joke most often receives a chuckle or two from the audience. But why? The perspective of “the guy” is peculiar. We see a difference is his thought process and our own. We interpret the operator’s words differently than he does. But then why do some differing perspectives inspire laughter and others inspire anger? We hear a joke like the one above and laugh, but become angry when we hear someone pose the perspective that “God hates fags”. One could argue that the difference in responses in the product of reality vs fiction. But a fictional character who preaches hate would not be viewed as funny. And a true version of this hunting story, although possibly more tragic, could still be viewed as funny.
Claims like “God hates fags” only cause pain if we let them. If we choose to become angry over another’s words, we give that person the power to cause us pain. If we choose to love everyone, then anger is replaced with pity for those who present such peculiar perspectives. We hear “God hates fags” or “Middle-Easterners are not human. They are mammals, but not human like us.” (I’ve heard that last one.) and we think, “Awe..You are wrong.” In the she way, we could putty the guy in the joke above for his misinterpretation of the operator’s words.
The humor response comes from our interpretation of the speaker’s intent. The hunting trip joke would not be funny if it were told as a sad, but true story. Likewise, we can choose to view ignorant perspectives in joke form: “God hates fags? That’s ridiculous. LOL.” When we see an ignorant perspective as truly absurd, we can laugh at it.
2:00am: Avery woke me with a whine. He wanted to go out.
I had let him out just before bed and he just stood there, waiting to come back in. I told him, “I’m not going to let you out if you wake me up tonight.” Of course this was a false claim. I’d rather get out of bed than have to clean up a mess. Aside from that, my love for him would have made it difficult for me to know he was in pain and not do anything.
I walked to the door and opened it. I stood there in my underwear, leaning against the door.
Avery and I had an arrangement: I would let him out without a leash and he would stay on the area of grass just outside our apartment. He had done this many times before.
This time, he walked quickly toward the parking lot. I whistled and called him, but he did not turn. I lost site of him as he went behind a car.
I figured he saw something of interest and would return soon. A few minutes later, I called him. No response. I called again and got nothing.
I went back inside and gathered my clothes from the floor. I would go out in his pursuit.
As I dressed, I considered how far he might have gotten if his pace maintained the entire time I was waiting on him. I decided I should use the car in my pursuit.
I sat down in the car, closed my door, and began driving the parking lot. “He could have already made it to the end and gone through the walkway that led to the next complex and eventually the street.”
I left the complex for the street and complex next door. Circling the block, I saw a few dark human figures in the parking lots surrounding my complex, but no Avery.
I began thinking about his motivation. I hadn’t fed him that evening. He had already eaten an entire loaf of bread and half a bag of cereal that night. I had tried to put my food out of his reach, but he managed to reach the upper shelves of the cupboard that day.
Perhaps it was the way I had disciplined him. When I got home from work and saw the remnants of my food on the floor, I was met with a rather apologetic look. This was not the first time this week he had gotten into my food.
If he were a human child, I would’ve tried to reason with him: make him understand how there were not a lot of options for food in the apartment and his eating my bread and cereal meant I had to make a trip to the store. But he was a dog.
I turned him onto his back, sat on him, and popped him a few times on the nose. I didn’t hit him hard, I just wanted him to know I was unhappy about his actions. For good measure, I smacked him a few times with the half empty bag of cereal. Again, I didn’t hit him hard. I just wanted him to relate his punishment with his crime.
Perhaps I had gone too far. It is difficult to discipline a child with a history of abuse. One finds it difficult to know when the child understands the punishment and when he relates it to his history of abuse.
There is a kid in my program at work who has a history of abuse. He is quick to apologize, but repeats the undesired actions at every turn. This makes his apologies seem insincere. Then again, perhaps his apologies are his way of saying, “Please don’t hit me.”
Was Avery leaving me for his own good? Surely I would be more gentile with him in the future if I could find him. I felt guilty.
I didn’t realize at the time, but believe this had a lot to do with my friend, Peace. She had stayed with my significant other and me for several months before I was told by my significant other that I was to give Peace an ultimatum. She was to find a job and start paying rent or get out. I did not deliver my girlfriend’s ultimatum. I, instead, asked what her progress was when it came to finding a job. When she reported that she had an interview and would likely start work soon, I gave a sigh of relief. I explained the situation with my significant other, but reassured Peace that I would not give her an ultimatum. A week or so later, Peace was fired from her sales job for being “too nice”. She left a note on the dresser explaining how she had left our house, making herself homeless.
Had I treated the situation incorrectly? I didn’t have to mention my girlfriend’s ultimatum. I was never going to deliver it anyway. I should have stood up for my friend. I should have made my girlfriend understand that, although I put her happiness before mine most of the time, this was an issue on which I would not be so easygoing. I’ve since lost contact with Peace. She used to stand in front of the Capitol building, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. I drive by regularly, but don’t see her anymore.
After 10 minutes of searching for Avery, I decided it was best for me to return home. “He might have already returned and is waiting on me. If not, he has my phone number on his tag and I can always make fliers for him in the morning.”
I pulled into my spot. No Avery.
I laid down in my bed and began planning my life without Avery. There would no longer be a need to return home immediately after work. Not that I had anywhere to be. There would be no more late night walks.
I looked out my bedroom window several times when I heard something I thought might have been Avery. I soon decided it was best to sleep and not respond to every sound.
I awoke around 6:00am to the sound of a single whine just outside my front door. I opened the door and Avery looked up at me with that same apologetic look: squinted eyes, small posture, all of the signs he was expecting me to hit him – to really hit him.
I let him in and bent over to rub his ears. The tips were cold.
I told him to go to bed and I laid back down. I held my hand over the edge of the bed and petted his head. He licked my hand lovingly. I eventually decided it was time for sleep and stopped petting him. He laid down next to the bed. With my hand hanging over the edge of the bed, I felt him raise his head one last time to lick my hand twice before resting again: “I love you, Dad.”
To open oneself to love, one must open him or herself to a variety of emotions. In choosing to love you, I choose to enable you to cause me pain. It will always be up to me how I react to the pain. I can dwell in it or dismiss it through analyzation. Still, it is this vulnerability that makes love so special. It is said a crazy person is one who repeats the same action expecting a different result. Love has led to large amounts of hurt. So, logically, if I expect not to experience hurt as a result of love, I am crazy. To quote Michael Scott quoting Billy Joel, “You may be right. I may be crazy”. Still, I choose to attempt to have love for everyone I meet, with the understanding that the potential for hurt is worth the feeling of love. My love for others enables me to love myself and vice versa. My empathy for you makes me you. I cannot do to you without doing to myself. I cannot witness you in pain without feeling pain myself. I could ignore this connection in an effort at self-preservation, but I choose to see that we are all connected. I choose love.
It’s hard to give the shirt off your back when you are a Siamese twin.
“It is late night in Hope Retirement Home – 7:30 pm. 2 hours past dinnertime and that bitch still hasn’t brought me my pudding. Nurse Teasel has had it out for me since I first got here. I make an effort to shoot a wad of paper at her at least once a day. I do this by stretching a rubber band between the thumb and pointer finger of my left hand and using it like a bow to launch my paper balls.
A friend of mine named “Walker” tries to come see me on occasion. We met years ago at the VFW. Nurse Teasel says I have to get out of bed to have visitors. I would if I could – if my body would cooperate with my mind. Teasel is always trying to tell me what to do. She says I look like a hippie with my long hair. The women here love my long hair. So do their daughters. Charlie, another patient here, likes to get it on when we can get a moment alone. She wears dentures. I’m sure I don’t have to explain the benefits of her ability to remove her teeth. We share a dislike for Nurse Teasel. Nurse Teasel is always trying to get Charlie to use a wheel chair. But Charlie doesn’t need one. I think Teasel is just trying to cover her own ass. Lawsuits against Hope Retirement Home are common. As Nurse Teasel’s announcement echoes throughout the halls of this sterile establishment, “Lights Out”, I think to myself, “Not this time”. I use my cane to push Charlie’s wheelchair into the corner and out of Nurse Teasel’s sight. She reaches in with her right arm and flips the light switch on the wall into the “off” position.
I wait for the sound of the closing door at the end of the hall and glide the wheelchair back over to my bed with my cane. I climb into the chair and reach for the red truncate that rests on the end table and tie it around my forehead to keep my hair out of my face. I have to be quick. Murdock, the night security guard will be making his rounds soon. I hurry across the hall to Charlie’s room. We will make our escape. But first, I’m going to leave a surprise for Teasel. Charlie agrees to meet me out front. A few moments later, I come wheeling out the front door with a great speed. My chair sails over the concrete steps in front of the Hope Retirement Home as the front of the building goes up in a great explosion. My chair screeches to a halt at the bottom of the staircase. Charlie stands there next to me, barefoot, in her nightgown, holding her teeth next to her side…
And that’s it Doc. What do you think?” John Rambo sits across from a man in glasses. Rambo wears a suit and tie; his hair is short. The man holds a pen and notepad with his left hand as it rests on the arm of his chair.
“Well John,” the man says, “I think we’ll increase your anti-psychotic meds. Are you seeing anyone about your arthritis?”
John Rambo: “Yeah. But the stuff they give me isn’t working very well”.
“Clearly”, the man says, “I would recommend you revisit the issue with your PCV. Have you reconsidered the use of a walker?”
John Rambo: “I don’t need one.”
“It could help you get out of bed more. You have to understand how absurd the premises of these dreams are. To think a 66 year-old Vietnam vet who has suffered as significant injuries as you could engage in such strenuous activities…”
There are two kinds of love when it comes to a significant other kind of love. There is the experience of euphoria we associate with being in love, the experience of a rush of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, and there is the choice to open oneself up, to make oneself vulnerable in the hopes of achieving that euphoria in the future. It would seem irrational to expect to experience the feelings of euphoria we associate with love the entire time we are a part of an intimate relationship. But this does not mean we are not in love. If we choose intimacy, choose to continue to be vulnerable to that person, continuing to allow that person to cause emotional pain and pleasure, then we are in love. Therefore, to be in love is a choice. This is how two people can promise to “love, honor, and obey” for as long as they both shale live.
This kind of love requires trust to survive. Without trust, one may feel hesitant to make him or herself vulnerable. Each time one’s trust is broken, he or she may make the choice to trust again. This choice would seem necessary in order for an intimate relationship to continue. Still, at some point one party may become wary of the other party’s betrayal of trust. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on me. Fool me four times, shame on me…Fool me forty-six times, shame on me…Fool me one-hundred-thirteen times, shame on me.
Arguments attack a person’s understanding of a topic.
Debates offer more information in an attempt to alter a person’s understanding of a topic.
Hate breeds hate. I watch videos of protesters from a church I will not name for fear of providing more attention to their cause. They aim to inspire anger in people. Expressed anger only proves to work as evidence to these people they are doing right by their creator. As one who dabbled in martyr-like behaviors as a child, I understand how suffering may be rewarding to someone who feels their suffering is the result of his or her service to the higher cause. A martyr may see any pain experienced as affirmation that his or her efforts are valid. When we speak of people who suffer in the name of God, this pain is almost always said to be rewarded by God. Furthermore, a disconnect from any words or social stigma in the setting of these picket lines is easy to establish, as a picketer can dismiss opposing perspectives as incorrect and, in the case of the perspective held by the church, evil. When a simple map of evil and righteous is laid out in black and white and God’s wrath is said to be the penalty for anyone who deviates from the righteous path, it may be very difficult for one, especially a child, to choose deviation. I would love to meet some of these people and tell them I disagree, but love them anyway. If permitted, I would hug each member and feel empathy and pain for them. I know how much hate hurts. I don’t believe we were made to feel hate. Let’s take our lead from the generation that preached love. As hippies placed flowers in the barrels of riffles, I suggest we aim love at hate.
I was sitting in a waiting area at the Austin VA (Veteran’s Affairs office) listening to old vets express their opinions on politics and topics of that nature. One older vet took the stage and steered the conversation. He was very opinionated. Another older vet made the mistake of making a proclamation the first man did not agree with. By the first man’s tone and views in his previously expressed opinions, the second vet’s expressed perspective would seem a logical step. It was not and the first vet made a firm statement in disagreement, “No, it is not, sir!”. The second man attempted to retract his statement without completely backing down: “Well, I guess it’s just how you look at it.” The first man was not satisfied and proceeded to provide historical examples, proof that this other man was wrong. The second vet was quiet. The first then steered the conversation in another direction: “I raised my boys right. I told em, ‘You can bring home the ugliest girl you can find and I’m okay. But you bring home a boy and I don’t know you anymore.'” He received little response from his audience. He then moved on to weight gain and loss. He looked to me as if attempting to include me in the conversation. I was tempted to say something along the lines of “Don’t ask me. My boyfriend is always jealous I can eat anything I want and not gain any weight.” I held my tong. I didn’t want to cause offense. When I refused to act, God acted instead. A woman in her mid-thirties entered and sat across from the first man. She had short hair, tattoos, and gauged ears. She was wearing knee length shorts and a t-shirt. She invited herself into the conversation about weight gain and loss. The older man was civil and courteous. I was unsure of whether he understood what her physical representation of herself implied. I cannot say for certain she was gay, but she bore a lot of the physical characteristics associated with homosexual women in our culture. Perhaps the man’s views on homosexual women was different from that on homosexual men. Either way, it was brilliant to see this man who had sputtered hate one moment be courteous and friendly the next to a person who was likely a member of the group for whom he spoke hate. I laughed to myself. God’s placement of irony in my world was not lost on me.