Finally, the long awaited, last installment on Humor is here! Madness has ruled in my life for a few weeks, so I could never quite get this post exactly right…..it is still not where I want it, but I suppose there has to be a point where I proclaim, good….is enough.
This is how I think I look when I blog….
This is how I actually look….
As I ponder how to wrap up the topic of Humor….a.k.a….Humor With THEM, I cannot help but think of an event I attended with six thousand 11-12 year olds.
Actually, over six thousand kids were gathered for a gigantic celebration, marking their years’ worth of school community service. It takes all of my colleagues, plus our many corporate sponsors, to plan and execute this massive affair. With the help of volunteers, we manage to feed, entertain, and honor these responsible students, giving them a chance to explore one of the wonderful historical parks our city has to offer. Some of these students would not be able to afford an outing of this kind, but because of so many generous donations, these committed students can enjoy a free, full day of hardy party!
And party, they do!
Music pumps through large speakers while they wait for hotdogs and chips to be placed into their hungry hands, so THEY dance. Spontaneously forming a conga line (minus the actual conga moves), they hold onto each other’s shoulders, weaving and chugging through throngs of kids, inspiring others to join or causing smiles to appear.
Familiar tunes crank up, and bellies fill with old-fashioned candy and soda pop, so THEY sing. On popular choruses, their voices rise above what is booming from speakers, and it seems to increase their fervor.
They are too excited to walk toward a train ride, or wait in line to take a Ferris wheel ride, or settle in to play turn of the century carnival games, so THEY run. Spiking sugar adrenalin spurs them faster toward the next exhibit, the next thrill, wanting to eat up all this day has to offer, before heading back into their real time….real lives.
Something caused me to take note of what was happening in this crowd of children who were gathered for the same purpose, but did not know each other. They were united. Not coaxed, not rehearsed, not directed, they were sharing the moment corporately and personally, as evidenced by wide grins and rolling laughter.
One of my favorite moments of the day, was leading this energetic mass in singing our national anthem. Because my work allows me to attend various events at schools, I have often been privileged to hear choirs of youthful voices sing, bringing me to tears in a millisecond. This is especially true on certain holidays where emotional sentiments are high.
For this sunny and celebratory day, almost 7000 voices rang out with such power and conviction, it was difficult to keep my throat from choking shut. I backed away from the podium mic, to allow more of this wave of joy and spontaneous patriotism to flow from their lungs. I listened in awe, wishing their voices could flow into the hearts of our city….our country….our world. Their conviction and unity sounded like a complete answer for tough political agendas….for hard hitting social issues….for what generosity sounds like….acts like.
Why were these youths so ready to burst forth into their songs, dances and games? Is it a simple answer? Maybe.
They were invited. They were fed. They were accepted.
I would go as far as to say, they were loved….in that agape, globally friendly, share a Coke and a smile, kind of way….which does not need verbalizing. It only requires the willingness to demonstrate a conscious caring for others.
I wonder if current events like Orlando would still happen, if this was adopted more in our world. I wonder if ISIS could convince even 1 recruit, if there were more generous, united songs on our planet. I wonder if I use this philosophy at work for my next team meeting, if it would decrease the growing division in our assumed ‘consistent’ deliver of education. These are not light issues, nor are they easy to tackle globally with differing values, culture, religion, financial and political gains.
So….what could possibly help?
Immediately, I thought of the United Nations. Think what you will of their policies or effectiveness, it is hard to disagree with their intentions. I looked up if they had a youth contingency, and not only is there one….there are many, many opportunities!
Fantastic options…. if you can afford $1300-$3400 U.S. to attend international conferences, are between the ages of 16-28, and you can speak English. I would think this limits potential delegates, to those lucky enough to have funds available to them privately or through fundraising efforts through their community.
I am also going to guess, that kids who grew up playing soccer in the dust with a cardboard and string handmade ball, are not participating. Plus, I think the age range is too old to be considered ‘youth’. Most +16 year olds are too close to adulthood to dance, sing and play unashamedly. They may not as willingly attempt to use their language of laughter and fun, in order to connect to new ideas, places and people.
So I googled this….”kids helping the world be a better place”….WOW!
Here is a taste of what I found….
These 8 youth are just a few current and historic examples of kids who have generated big changes.
Hunger. Poverty. Literacy. Health. Environment. Gender Equality. Social Justice. Universal Education. Racism. Clean Water. The list of accomplishments goes on and on.
All this….from kids between the ages of 4-17….their innocent observations saw something broken in our world and did what they could to fix it.
So, how will Humor get wrapped up nicely in a frilly bow with sparklers on top?
I think one key is in learning to laugh at ourselves. It is admirable to know and practice your own views. But….when taken too seriously….when taken beyond the importance of humanity…..when taken outside a context of how short our lives are….how unmeasurably ignorant we are with complete knowledge….it can fail us. Taking things too seriously has failed us.
This was never more evident to me, than when passing by an artist’s kiosk at an International Fair this week. He solicited to make fun of me and hubby’s facial features as part of his sales pitch, which was enough to convince hubby, so down we sat. Passersby were chuckling….giggling….looking at us, then back to an intent artist who was asking me to smile….a good sign, or so I thought.
Each person that noticed the drawing being created, could not seem to help checking us out as subjects, gauging for themselves, the likeness captured by this artist’s pen. All manner of people in different age ranges, gender, race and culture, passed. Some gave us nods or winks. Some gave an encouraging ‘thumbs up’. Some spoke to each other in different languages, but no translation was necessary. They were getting a kick out of it! Some commented about it being ‘beautiful’, or ‘perfect’….which made me really question the process, being a less than willing subject from the start. Watching people react was both entertaining and strangely comforting, as we sat nervously waiting for our ‘true’ selves to be revealed.
When my initial horror wore off, a few seconds after viewing this work of ‘art’, I realized how randomly brilliant it was….why people found such joy in it, why it was perfect and beautiful….and why I should laugh along with the rest of the Fair….strangers who saw my warbled dents and flaws and had a better day because of it.
Everyone’s faces brightened, their moods lightened, their feet quickened, in less than the second it took to realize, we have an invitation to not take ourselves too seriously….and it only takes ONE second.
After 4 weeks of delving into Humor, I can confirm:
Laughter is a Language.
Laughter is Medicine.
Humor invites US.
Humor unifies US.