Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ruthless People

You know, people aren't very nice.  Not you - you're lovely.  I mean everyone else.  Aside from the general loss of old-fashioned manners, it seems like its more common than ever for people to get a laugh or debate a point at the expense of others.  Don't get me wrong, I'm right there with my snarky remarks, looking for a laugh or sometimes just trying to make myself look or feel better.  But then I think about Cristoph.

Christoph is a good friend from college.  He's one of those rare people who is just truly authentic, often blissfully unaware of trends or what others are doing.  He's just busy being Cristoph.  Which at the moment means, as I recall, getting a doctorate in underwater archaeology at Oxford or something along those lines.  Anyway, a group of us were on vacation at the beach, hanging out on the porch enjoying many beers and a lot of laughs.  I relayed a story I'd heard recently about the winner of a Darwin Award, a kid who had died after a series of what could be perceived as ridiculously dumb moves.  I relayed the story now anticipating the typical uproar of laughter.  And most of the people on the porch did chuckle - except Cristoph.  "That isn't funny at all."  He paused, staring at me. I froze, really not expecting this reaction.  "At all."  He nearly started to tear up.  "That was someone's son, someones brother, someone's friend.  And now they're dead."  He shook his head.  "I don't see any humor in that at all."

I felt like I had dropped the F-bomb in front of the Pope. Cristoph was right - how could I find it funny?  Yet we're so desensitized to that perspective and so trained to talk down to or rudely about others that we assume its OK. We hear it from political pundits and humorists, its part of our conversations and part of the funny, snappy items we put on Twitter or Facebook.  I do it, we all do it.  But I like to remember Cristoph's perspective and remind myself that just because everyone's doing it doesn't make it right.

So I don't know about you, but I'm trying to curb my tongue and reel in the risk of bad karma.  Surely we're smart enough to find other ways to be funny, right?  And if not, we'll just have a few drinks and eventually everything will seem hilarious.

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