I wonder what would happen . . .
Well, it probably wouldn’t happen, at least, not with the folks I’m thinking of, though I think there’s a pretty good chance it could happen, would happen, and does happen with you or me or anybody you really want to spend much time around, folks who don’t suck the air out of any room they enter, people you can honestly say that you like, but I wonder . . .
I wonder what would happen if the loud politicians (and most of them are loud) presently enjoying their fifteen minutes of this world’s fame, would do what they almost never do, find very difficult to do, and maybe literally can’t do: what would it look like if one of them just occasionally laughed at himself, herself, or itself (to be inclusive here)?
What would happen? I can think of a few who’ve done it. Not many. But, thank the Lord, a few.
Can you imagine, though, Russia’s chest-baring narcissist, China’s fake-smiling bully, North Korea’s puffed up toad, Iraq’s . . . well, you get my drift—those guys who might well be termed “deplorables” . . . Can you imagine a genuine, good-hearted laugh from any of them, much less a laugh at themselves?
And, though I’ll try to be reasonable here—I really don’t think it’s fair to lump “our” present pols into that sorry wad of bottom-feeders—hang with me here and think about this.
Wouldn’t it be a great sign if our political leaders were truly better at laughing in general and laughing at themselves in particular?
I’m talking about a real laugh. Not a smirk from the nose down. Not a grimace. Nothing aimed at an opponent or critic. Nothing at all sardonic, cynical, withering, bitter, resentful, supercilious, ignorant, arrogant, rude, condescending, or fake. No.
But a genuine full-involvement-of-the-face laugh. The real deal. A good-natured roar. A guffaw. An explosion of deep mirth accompanied by a flash of eye-twinkle that confirms it.
That’s probably far too much to hope for all at once. I think even a teeny, tiny joke about one’s own foibles and inconsistencies issuing in a real and spontaneous, unscripted and unguarded smile would be refreshing and a good start. And it could and should cross all political lines.
Maybe if Trump laughed a bit about his own Twitter propensity and Biden grinned about his own gaffe-ability, we’d feel better and late night comics would have a little less ammunition.
I think I’d nominate George W. Bush and Michelle Obama to give lessons. Whatever I may like or dislike about the politics of either, I like this about them very much: those two could pull this off.
Ya know what? Upon reflection, I really do think I could name a handful of other political sorts we have seen, or can imagine, doing this without straining any facial muscles at all. I’d gladly vote for one of them.
I’m serious about this. It’s a much bigger deal than we might at first imagine. What kind of heart, what kind of soul, does it take to be able to laugh at oneself? For all of us, not just politicians, it takes a heart with something still warm and beating in it and a soul with something still alive in it. Something still genuinely good. Something that knows itself well enough to be able to get out of self and not be locked up—north, south, east, and west—in a cell with bars fashioned by self as its own tyrannical jailer.
Sadly, that kind of self-imposed prison is not just common to egotistical politicians, it can lock up the hearts of any of us who take ourselves too seriously and our God not seriously enough. If we really trust our Father, we’ll have plenty of time, many good reasons, and ample occasion not only to love but to laugh, often at ourselves.
Personally, I think it’s foolish and dangerous to put much trust in anyone who doesn’t.
Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.