I came across a statement today in my Humanities of Islam course today. A course I took partly because I lived in Morocco for 3 months last year (if you didn't know, they're Muslim over there) and partly because it seems to me that humanizing and understanding each other as people from different places and of different ethnicities is going to be key in contributing to 'world peace'. Here is the statement....
“The sign of an Islamic reformation is when you start seeing a lot of Muslim comedians. Given their willingness and ability to indulge in self-criticism, that’s when we’ll start to see the emergence of a separate centre of gravity that engages in self-scrutiny and a willingness to say, ‘It’s not Israel, it’s not Jews, it’s not the United States, but it’s our own cultural handcuffs that have put us in this morass, that have kept us lower than anyone else in the world today.’”
- Steven Emerson, journalist and terrorism expert
I will not comment on the issues at hand too directly. instead I will simply tell you my take on humor and as always, ask you to think about it a minute.
I like very few things more than a good joke coming from a non-native English speaker, in English. Because my sense of humor can be embarrassingly simple, the succinct interchange of common words or a play on a misunderstood or mis pronounced word is just brilliant.
A good friend of mine in Morocco named 'Youness' used to joke with the tourists that they could also call him 'useless' (though he was anything but). Oh that sweet man and all the hours he spent patiently trying to teach me French at the beach: "les vagues sont grand aujourd'hui"
I think being fluent in another language is when you're able to make and understand jokes with a native speaker.
But it can also happen in English, when two people are from separate countries or even states (FYI: people from the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa call underwear pants, and so you should always avoid asking your English and Australian friends to look in your pants for the money to buy everyone avocado smoothies...)
but lets move away from this kind of language barrier-ed humor to social commentary humor that is satire... as in... it's funny cause it's true... (I have to insert a thanks to Tina Fey for 30 rock, even if it must be parenthesied in this particular post) . It's like this neat art form where we can use the mirror that is a satirical comedian and look at ourselves and our world.
Humor seems to be a big part of who we are as humans. As soon as we can laugh with one another, we can relate to one another in a very earnest way. This is why it is a scary thing to paint a culture as humor-less. what more sneaky way to de-humanize... and as we all know, de-humanizing leads to all kinds of dirty things... (cough, cough, the holocaust).
I guess where I'm going with all this is that I think we all need to laugh. laugh at all the stereotypes and all the extremists and all the nut-cases out there. but more importantly, laugh at ourselves.
here's a good one I like to tell (let me emphasize that it matters very much who tells the joke because this one's not funny coming from anyone else)...
"remember when I got attacked and then consequently tried to smoke a cigarette, almost jumped off a building, etc., etc.,?"
ha... too soon? too real?? hmm... it's better in person. try to see the ridiculousness of this.
the thing is... if it's not funny, it's just extremely sad. But if I can laugh at my icky situation, maybe there's hope out there after all?
so try to pick up on what my new buddy Ahmed Ahmed is trying to do in this video; I promise you it's worth your 10 minutes.