Sunday, January 09, 2011

Political "Humor" -- Personal Struggle

Disclaimer: Funny is different to different people. I laugh hysterically at stuff that others just can't see that way. In the words that follow, I attempt to voice simply my opinion. I know it does not reflect all voices. I will continue to seek to understand and accept that as I learn to love my neighbor.

Anyway, with that said, I recently watched a video clip of Nancy Pelosi passing the gavel to the new Speaker of the House, John B., and I had a negative reaction. John B., in the doctored video clip, pounded Nancy P. on the head with the gavel, and knocked her to the floor. A friend asked me why it wasn't funny to me. Perhaps on another day, I'd be more lighthearted about it. However, it touched a couple of hot buttons for me.

1. It smacked of bullying behavior, something I battled constantly as a classroom educator and administrator, on behalf of children and adults. So I have low tolerance.
2. I have HUGE respect for our government, especially in times of peaceful transfer of leadership and power, such as this passing of the gavel. So different compared to many other nations. This little video clip bothered me because I felt the process had been disrespected, as well as one of the hard-working leaders.
3. I understand there are many people who do not like Nancy Pelosi. I get it. But I felt to behave like the "Three Stooges" in response seemed inappropriate and a cheap shot for the sake of humor.
4. I read the Gospels and follow Christ, sometimes close behind, sometimes at a distance. I read "Love your neighbor as yourself," "love your enemy," and "love one another." I also read many non-violent responses in a turn-the-other-cheek, walk the extra mile, and other examples of getting along. This gavel video seemed to be a response opposed to getting along in a way that promotes the worth of individuals created in God's image.

Perhaps I overreact. Perhaps I do need to lighten up and taken it in good spirits. I just find myself in a stage of exhaustion with the cruel things spoken and posted and broadcast back and forth on all sides that model destructive behavior, not positive regard for moving forward together, for building on common ground. Maybe I'm a Pollyanna. Maybe I just think of how the young ones learn from adult behavior.

Cruel behavior in words and images, not to mention intentional acts of violence, complicate getting along. It is mainstream and I am troubled by that. I have been shocked and chagrined by many faithful folks as we malign, sometimes viciously and without truth, the leaders we do not support. I have learned and pledged to be more gracious in how I communicate my disagreement with leaders whose views I do not support. I am working on my own choices, to behave towards leaders I do not support, to behave in ways that are kind, loving, patient....often it is not easy, but it is the right thing.

And if for no other reason, I believe all leaders have families who are hurt by hurtful treatment. I don't want to be a part of that ripple effect. I want to be more fair and kind in political heat. That is a struggle. There are times for humor, but I must be considerate. That is a fine line. I remain a big fan of political satire. Perhaps that is more damaging than I realize, too. I'll have to think about that.

I appreciate Nancy Pelosi and Hilary Clinton. I have many friends who don't feel that way. Still, I know I can learn good things from both of these women who have dealt with struggles I can't even imagine. They are valued. They have made major contributions. I'd have lunch with them and benefit from the conversation.

Going for the higher ground? Maybe that's a choice for all of us. Maybe I'm just defensive. Time will tell.