Thursday, July 31, 2008

Crazy Kids--As It Should Be

I recently received that email about the kid getting stolen and found in the restroom with the head 1/2 shaved and a disguise kit lying on the floor. As with just about every email I receive, I looked it up in snopes. Sho' nuff, it's fake. But it still got me thinking. Given my kids' vocal strengths, and finally the okay to go ape-poop in every way, their would-be kidnappers would have their hands full...deafened, injured and otherwise embarrassed from unwanted attention. Finally...someone else gets to share in my every-day joy.

What do we tell our children? "If a bully is picking on you, just ignore him." Okay, if a mugger is threatening to cut you, just ignore him. "If a bully is picking on you, tell a teacher." Right, and if you're being chased down a dark alley, scream into the night. I'm sure you'll be fine. See where this is going?

Now, what have you told your kids about if someone is trying to steal them? "Run the other direction!" That's good, unless they run into another, worse situation. Tell them WHERE to run. "Fight back." There's a good one! Finally! Now they know what to do! But wait...what's "fight back"? Have you defined for them what "fight back" means? As may not come as a surprise...I have. "If someone is trying to steal you, you scream, kick, bite, scratch, elbow, knee, head butt, pull hair...and all in as sensitive parts as possible."

Be warned: my kids have gotten the okay to fight back. And when I say "fight back" I mean go absolutely nuts in attempts to drop the bad guy and get away. As it should be. Tonight's practice session should be fun. Incentive to check the integrity of my sparring gear....

"Out-terrorize the Terrorist"

What's the best way to cure a bully? Totally disrupt your way of life to avoid him? That can work for a while. Tell the teacher? That's only temporary--and often causes an escalation of bullying. One way to cure a bully: trounce him.

You don't have to like it, but when all other avenues fail, you're left with one last path. So if you're going to walk it, walk it with gusto. Not the most ideal of situations, but if someone is harming you (intending to harm, threatening harm, etc.) he has placed himself in exactly the same situation that he put you in. He reaches for you, you strike his arm and hurt it. He pulls a gun to threaten you, you pull yours and fire it.

When the 1000 years of peace finally magically take hold on the world, we won't have to worry about such things. Until then, bully, mugger, rapist, murderer--they're all the same. And when they put themselves in that role, they put themselves in a dangerous situation. Make them proud of how much better you can play their part until the situation's over. Then change roles; go home, love your family and friends and live a stress-free life.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blind Bleeding the Blind: Bigots Rule!

I love politics. It's like a second religion for me. Like my other "religions" I know too little about them, but I still enjoy looking for and finding patterns and contradictions. Take for example the current presidential race between Barak Obama and John McCain. Thanks to the candidates' ethnicities, the racists are making themselves known quite distinctly--they're coming out of the woodwork! The problem is, they're invisible. They're cloaked in the invisibility of socially acceptable behavior.

You see, it's perfectly acceptable to denigrate and insult one race and not another. Racial slurs are acceptable, humorous and--best of all--deserved! The promotion of one race above another is lauded and loved in the government, in social circles and in communities. One can create an entire stand-up routine based solely on race. I've seen them. They're hilarous. I must have been in the right crowd because not one person got up and screamed in defiance and outrage that the jokes were inappropriate and racist. The comedians weren't humiliated nor were they virtually burned at the stake in the media following the show. In fact, they're now quite rich and famous.

That's all well and good until politics enters into it. I heard on the radio this morning that it was going to be impossible for one candidate to swing the votes of an entire group of people because the other candidate was of a particular race. I read in the news that a particular group of people that hold political views diametrically opposed to a particular candidate are having a difficult time deciding on who to vote for because of the race of that candidate. Race. Not policy. Race. Policy be damned.

Now, consider for a moment that I have not once brought up who is of what race and who is making what jokes, and who is making what decision based on race. And yet...we all know and are uncomfortable in commenting on it. The act of voicing such observations has been repressed. And while everyone notices, everyone turns a blind eye.

Racism has truly blinded us all. We truly are color blind.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Enjoy the Enjoyable

Having grown up in Utah; having it made very clear that most humor is too negative or offensive or [insert reason to not enjoy life here]; wanting to pretend I was destined for high(er) society; whatever the reason, as I reached adulthood, I no longer allowed myself to enjoy--truly enjoy--the myriad jokes and senses of humor out there.

Watching funny movies would sometimes evoke a smile. A very funny movie, a chuckle. One evening, well into my young adulthood, I sat in a theater waiting for the latest comedy to start. I cast my mind back to all the other comedies I had watched in the recent past. All those movies I had sat chuckling quietly while the audience roared in laughter. I thought of the Def Comedy Jam--and other such stand-up comedy events--I noticed the audience practically throwing themselves out of their chairs in completely unrestrained gales of laughter. Sitting there, in the darkening theater I made the conscious decision to enjoy the upcoming movie; I decided to laugh out loud, to loosen whatever hold on my sense of humor my years of bad habits and erroneous beliefs had tied.

I've never enjoyed a comedy more.

Since then, I have heard quite a few statements about having a sense of humor. Some warm, some fuzzy, some sticky sweet. And some, just plain cool. From "You are never truly defeated so long as you can laugh" to "Time + Tragedy = Humor."

Don't get me wrong. I don't expect anyone to enjoy everything. That would cheapen...well...everything. I'm talking about lightening up. Enjoying the enjoyable. Unrestrained. If you enjoy, enjoy it! Enough of the fear of looking foolish as you nearly pee yourself from laughter. Look at the painting in slack-jawed (albeit unbecoming a prude) wonder. Let that tear run down your cheek as you listen to your favorite score. Stand up and cheer for the opposing team when they make that perfect play.

After that movie, after making that decision to free myself, it is easier for me to see that there is a bit of humor in just about everything. People tell me I have no sense of humor because I laugh at slapstick, puns, potty, dry, and/or cutting jokes; I hear I have no taste because I see the beauty even in the ugly. And through it all, whenever someone comments on my lack of refined taste...I just laugh.