Having a sense of humor is essentially a social tool of adding a fun perspective to the mundane things in life. It makes us see things in a different light. And laughter is good! I read somewhere once:
“Life is full of absurdities, and humor points it out, often showing us where our pride has gotten the better of us and reminding us that (thankfully) it doesn’t all depend on our intelligence and hard work. Humor helps us appreciate what is valuable. Humor lets us laugh at everything Satan throws at us, reminding us that pain is temporary. Joy is eternal.”
So when does humor hurt?
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.” Ephesians 4:29
Christianity seems like it may suck the fun out of living, wielding verses for the most obscure of topics. Trust me, Jesus wasn’t against humor at all. In fact, when I prayed for a life partner I just asked for two things: a Christ lover, who would be taller than me. And God gave me gave me a PASTOR who was 6 feet tall! (For those who think that’s not funny, I’m only 150 cms!) So yeah, God does have a sense of humor! If you’re still not convinced, read all of Jesus’ tongue-in-cheek replies to the Pharisees and how He would take them down one by one, using their silliness and absurdity to make a point. If I were one of the disciples, I would have laughed my way to salvation.
Humor can be uplifting, as long as we don’t tear down another person, or it is not at the expense of another. These days we’re too busy laughing to notice that a person may be struggling and genuinely needs us to listen.
Resuming with the Taming the Tongue series is the current post on the insensitivity of humor, as manifested in the forms of ridiculing, teasing or in sarcasm.
Ridiculing and Teasing
Though we live in a nation which swears by “Unity in Diversity”, we never seem to get enough out of picking on another’s strange accent, physical/facial features, tradition, gender or skin color. These come as put-down humor, which is in an attempt to deploy aggression to make another look bad so we look good. Those who view the world with such amusement often are blind to their own shortcomings. They have a pessimistic approach to life, and are extremely judgmental and critical. This is also the language of bullies.
There are different styles of humor. Four broad categories, according to modern psychology, seven according to Orkut, which is more believable. But only ONE particular kind among them gets all of the attention here. Sarcasm, by definition, is the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say, especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny (Merriam-Webster’s dictionary). Sarcasm, mostly, is hostility wrapped up in a humorous package. It can be hurtful to the other person.
The irony is most sarcastic people live in denial of the need to break away from or work on their caustic witticism.
I have no scientific theory to back up here, except the revelation God gave, which is, an excessively sarcastic person is mostly a bitter person, wounded at heart.
“For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” – Matthew 12:34-37
Though humor is essentially social, how you use it says a lot about your sense of self.
After pouring over posts and research material for two consecutive nights, here’s what I found out bright minds believe the causative factors to destructive humor are:
- A rigid mindset with an air of superiority: Such people think they are always right because they derive their discernment/morality from submitting to passing fads like cultural/societal norms, rather than something permanent or lasting, like the wisdom of the Word of God.
- Past/bitter experiences, bringing hostility and bitterness either towards themselves or to those around.
- Lack of self-confidence
- Emotional abuse, leading to being habituated to the bad things that happened in life
- Unconscious negative pattern of thinking: Some people are overtly critical and maintain such a pattern due to bad upbringing, because that was how they were treated as children.
- Expectations from life and unmet goals, tending to blame others for what transpired, leading a miserable life.
How To Deal With It?
- Find out root issues causing you to be ridiculing or sarcastic.
- Be sensitive to others’ emotions and situation.
- Embrace differences without conforming, if it makes you uncomfortable.
In conclusion, have a good laugh. It’s really refreshing. Make your humor count by making it purposeful and constructive. If you can’t say it nicely, just zip up and don’t say it. Let love lead.
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” – Luke 6:31