Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What if humor could stop wars? (1.26.09)

Reading the threads Sunday night, again and again I found myself breaking into laughter. (The wonderful humor of our TPM threads)
As I pondered the issue of the resolution of conflicts, I had a moment of shattering clarity: What if humor could stop wars?
I somehow think it would be hard to fight if people were laughing.

[full disclosure: I first posted this thought at ClosetLuddite's blog - but I can't attest to where I was when I first had the thought. Too bad... When you come up with the method to stop wars, you should recall that moment in every particular.]



What if humor _has_ stopped wars? It actually brightened my day to think this thought :-)
Thanks TheraP!
Glad to have brightened your day. I bet you're right!
I suspect that the occurrence of a war indicates that humor has already failed, however, if not, then I propose Patton Oswalt for SecDef.
Humor stop wars? Good heavens, woman! Don't you know that humor is the deadliest weapon ever conceived?!?
LOL - that was good!
Once again, TPMers come through!

had to see that one coming...
So, was Cheney suggesting that Leahy comport himself as a bonobo?
I think that humor is over rated. Happy thoughts tend to interrupt the free flow of ideas, of information that is of dire need for this moment in time.
Now watch grandpa McConnell. That guy has a stately manner, like an extra in a black and white '30's flick about stern bankers. If he were to, all of a sudden, tell a joke as he was about to blame President Obama for our current economic situation,
why good people might be confused and not know which line was the joke. And where would that put old Mitch?
Or Boehner. One of those middle aged guys who was once, clearly, a pretty boy and now looks like he passed out in his car and donned new duds for the press conference. What is he going to say; a liberal democrat and a blue dog democrat walk into a bar....when he knows because they both bought him a drink only the nite before?
And w, he liked to grin and dance around moving his arms to and fro, right after bombed the shit out of some village in Iraq. That was when the American people could no longer tell when he was joking. Was it when he talked about how hard we work to put food on our childrens, or when he noted that OBGYN Doctors put love all over their patients?
One has to be careful about humor. It is a precise tool that should only be in the hands of grown up people, used in proper context and with aplomb.
And happiness. Speaker Pelosi and her crew are smiling all the time now. Like they can just pass any legislation they deem proper.
TheraP, you must rethink your position in this matter!!!!!
I'm trying to rethink, dd. But the brain is not computing. I need my humorous dd. I am like an addict and your words just don't have the pizazz - without the humor. Besides, you mentioned republicans, and my mind is now set to "forget" when it comes to them.
Please use your precise tool - in the proper context and with aplomb! Whether it kills me or not!
DD, I am going to agree. I have some humorous tendencies, but they will impede getting a serious message across to people. There are also times, because of my clownish history, that people do not listen because I was, that clown. I will always enjoy a good joke, but the fact that w was a joke seems to have hidden from the masses how dangerous his policy really was.
Beware of humor. It does need to be used wisely. See The Daily Show and Colbert Report for the wise use of humor. Colbert was at his funniest at the dinner with the President and the Press.
Gregor my piece you are referring to was tongue in cheek but maybe not as much as I originally thought.
Humor can be taken the wrong way and the receiver all of a sudden feels he or she has been slapped.
You make a better point than I was trying to make.
From the time I was a kid in grade school I knew whether a classmate's humor was teasing in fun or teasing to be mean. As an adult I found surprisingly that a small part of me was drawn a bit to dark and macabre humor. And now as a Senior I am seeing that it takes more brain cells to be funny than to be violent.
I think you are on to something, TheraP. Good post and good discussion.
Ok, now you've delineated two types of humor. The kind that would stop a war via laughing. And the kind that is demeaning - like the way they made fun of detainees. That's an important distinction. Very important. My thesis turns on the first type.
Well my feces burns when I eat tripe!
Oh... Yet a third kind of humor? The kind that the espouser thinks is funny but nobody else does?
That may _start_ wars...
CL, your words are so wise....
Thank you for that further distinction. You are right!
Ok finish this verse. There once was a man from Crawford...
Who in the White House left a big turd
We want him in jail, but the courts are a snail
so he laughs and he flips us the bird
Kant is said to have said that the only unqualified good would be a good will. That's probably a terrible paraphrase.
There's good humor and ill humor, and many other humors free floating in and around the angst-aether. They settle evanescently onto the status quo to tickle neurons, good or ill, and so bias is born.
Not to change the subject entirely, but maybe good will could stop wars.

"...maybe good will could stop wars" - eds
Josuf Islam (Cat Stevens) just released "The Day The World Gets 'Round" as a single. Proceeds to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and Save The Children.

Yusuf said “This song represents for me the great spirit of George Harrison. I hope this song will help remind people of the immense legacy of love, peace and happiness we can share when we get round to looking at mankind’s futile wars and prejudices, and start to change our foolish ways.”
That's related to good will.
It's been a while, TheOtherShoe. Just when I was missing people from my past... (See Missy's post for that:
now I'm gonna have to "follow" you)
I'll check out your link too. (Thanks!)
I will follow you will you follow me
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you will you stay with me
Just one single tear in each passing year
(Genesis lyrics)
Now you've brought a tear to my eye. That's lovely. (I wish there was a little icon to show a poignant tear - right here.)
How wistful!!! While we're out here at the fringes, Let's just ponder 'What if sex could stop wars!!'
There is a subspecies of chimps, bonobos I think, that have sex instead of hair pulling, biting, gouging fights when there's discord in the group. I'm afraid we didn't descend in the same line of hominids.

bonobos? I am going right to wiki.
I gotta tell ya I checked out the wikipedia page and looks like they live in a monkey porn film.
You lot have certainly wasted so many of your years emulating chimpanzees, it shouldn't be so difficult switching to bonobos.
Give it a try. If you ever have a convention, it should be interesting. I'll bring the video cam!!!
Frankly emulating either species isn't wise. They're both probably doomed to extinction fairly soon.
We'd have a look at those directly responsible for their endangered status, but that would be 'bigoted, racist, and ignorant', wouldn't it??
(There may even be a 'homophobic' angle on such scurrilous investigation!!)

I don't know why you'd want to bring racism into it. They're dying off because their habitat is shrinking and human contact of any kind is usually detrimental to them. I doubt chimps notice much distinction between black hunters who kill them for protein or multinational corporations run by white men who want the resources they live on top of.
What a great idea. For some reason I now envision Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld all tied to chairs and being mercilessly tickled. Would it have stopped Iraq? Maybe yes. When you laugh, you feel. When you feel, you get over yourself enough to feel for other people?
Here's a test for you. Think of a political joke that would make both Osama Bin Laden and Dick Cheney laugh. Seriously try it. Probably harder than blowing OBL up.
Recent observations in the wild indicate that the males among the related Common Chimpanzee communities are extraordinarily hostile to males from outside of the community. Parties of males 'patrol' for the unfortunate neighbouring males who might be traveling alone, and attack those single males, often killing them. (Some researchers have suggested, however, that this behaviour has been caused by a combination of human contact and interference and massive environmental stress caused by deforestation and a corresponding home range reduction.[15]) This does not appear to be the behavior of the Bonobo males or females in their own tribes, where they seem to prefer sexual contact over violent confrontation with outsiders. The Bonobo live in different areas from the more aggressive Common Chimpanzee. Neither of the species swims, and they sometimes inhabit ranges on opposite sides of the great Congo River. It has been hypothesized that Bonobos are able to live a more peaceful lifestyle in part, because of an abundance of nutritious vegetation in their natural habitat, allowing them to travel and forage in large parties.
The popular image of the Bonobo as a "peaceful ape" has come under fire by observations of artificially-confined populations.
Keep reading dick. It's within the group where all the action is.
I got it Mark. I never would have believed it. Make love not war.
its the wording in the paragraph i found that is so funny
This does not appear to be the behavior of the Bonobo males or females in their own tribes, where they seem to prefer sexual contact over violent confrontation with outsiders
That to me his hilarious. At any rate thank you for this. Tomorrow I am checking Nat. Geo on this and see what they have. Dwarf Chimps
I really cannot thank you enough for this nor can I tell you why this is so funny to me. I cannot stop laughing.
And for further reading might I suggest a novel by William Boyd called Brazzaville Beach? It's got a lot about chimps, chaos theory, shrubbery archeology, a Egyptian cosmonaut, Africa, England and the human condition. Boyd's won at least one Booker prize and he's very very good.
Des went on a bonobo tear back in October.
It wasn't pretty.
toga toga toga
The dissonance between humor and war makes it so I can't even glance at what you may have written. Anyone who has fought in our nations wars has baggage, and in this instance your title (at least) says you have no clue.
I am a pacifist. Perhaps "prevent" war would have been a better word. Believe me, I am opposed to the kind of violence that happens in wars. And if my title was offensive to you, I certainly apologize. Any kind of war or violence is abhorrent to me. (I certainly did not mean to mock that here. But, as I say, if it came across that way, I apologize.)
Aristophanes' play "Lysistrata" is about women who withold sex in order to stop their men from making war. Instead of using sex to stop war, the women use the lack of sex to force peace.
6 of one, half dozen of the other ...
As for Humor, it is a powerful force. It can uplift you and enable you to look from a different point of view. It can help you deal with adversity. The power to stop wars? Why not. In the right hands, humor has that kind of power in my opinion.
I use humor to help people cope with a chronic disease; one I have been dealing with since 1985.
Now, my website may not seem as funny to those who don't share my condition, as the humor is somewhat specific to having a chronic degenerative arthritic disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. My website's concept supposes that there is a town where all the residents have Spondylitis, so everything in town is adapted to their needs. It is not a medically oriented or informational site, it is simply there to make my fellow Spondys laugh and assist them in coping. You can check it out here:
To be honest, I was a bit reluctant to share my site with you all, as I wasn't quite sure how 'strangers' would react to it. But it seemed like such a perfect example of the function of humor to change people in a positive way.

Thank you, Mr. Smith. For your words and your site.
Here's a personal anecdote. I did my dissertation on "cognitive expertise" in psychotherapy. I was fortunate to be able to do intensive research with only a small number of people. I won't go into everything I learned. But there was one surprise. When describing themselves the "experts" used "initiate humor" as one of the top self-descriptors. And when explaining how they utilized that quality in therapy, it was exactly as you describe. They used humor as a way to help people gain distance, to get perspective. They also used in an empathic way, to get closer to someone or to gently get confront people - I'm talking a very empathic humor here.
So, yes, used judiciously, humor seems to be a quality that very effective therapists have in abundance and use carefully - in the service of helping people. You've found that too!
Maybe by 2010 or 2012, Franken might be considered for the SOS job?
There's thinking outside the box! Thanks JEP. :)

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