It’s as if your narcissistic mother has been elected president. Your version of reality is wrong. History’s version of reality is wrong. Science’s version of reality is wrong. Facts are infuriating. The whole world is being gaslighted. The National Park Service is the black sheep in the family.
“I’m a really very intelligent person.” Credit where credit is due, Mr. President—that’s my mother’s line, often spoken when I challenged her alternate reality. She also told me, “You’re too sensitive” or “You have a very vivid imagination”, “precious snowflake” in the current political parlance.
Triggered, anyone? To go “No Contact” from society would be socially irresponsible. How do we protect our joy?
I awoke yesterday to my house creaking and shuddering in the wind. My first thought of the day:
Seriously. I thought, “How would I know?” And you know, there’s some humor in that. And there was humor in my friend, Adam, who lives in my general region, posting links beneath the same post on Facebook to NUKE MAP, an online map for calculating the effects of a nuclear detonation and replying, “It IS a little warmer out today but (phew) we still have Internet.”
In his post, “Why are you laughing?” Theologian Randal Rauser reflects on gallows humor. “The really interesting question is whether it is ever ethically permissible and if so what is it that makes it ethically permissible.” Can we laugh when refugees have admission to the United States rescinded while 30,000 feet in the air on their way here? Can we laugh when 20 million people may lose their health insurance? And if they do, many of them will die as a result? Can we laugh when the First Amendment is under threat?
Wikipedia defines “Gallows humor” as “witticism in the face of – and in response to – a hopeless situation. It arises from stressful, traumatic, or life-threatening situations, often in circumstances such that death is perceived as impending and unavoidable.”
Rauser says we must consider the context of dark humor, i.e., “the persons making the joke, the persons laughing at it, and the social function that it might have. In other words, what is the social utility of the joke?” The social utility of laughter is keeping our wits about us, resisting the immobilizing power of despair, and enjoying the very life and privileges that are under threat.
Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. -Wendell Berry
Stay with the facts. Call your senators and representatives. March. Vote. Protect the persecuted. Protect your brain in a post-fact world. Take breaks from social media. And keep laughing.