If you know me personally, then you probably have an idea of how I lean politically. If you know me well, you should also know that I find the idea of leaning a certain direction politically is stupid and I will make fun of you for it. If you know me really well, you know that I’ll make fun of your ideas even if they aren’t stupid.
This is something that very few people understand about me. And I find it hilarious. I think I’m an arrogant asshole, because honestly, I am always laughing on the inside when people are cheesed* that I “misunderstood them.” I didn’t misunderstand you. It’s just fun to make jokes. I like jokes. Jokes are the best.
Do you know who doesn’t like jokes? Uptight people. People who think that their cause is “no laughing matter.” Here’s the thing: this is never true. This isn’t my opinion, or how I choose to live my life, it’s just how the world works: to someone, somewhere, your cause is hilarious. In fact, probably to a whole lot of people. There’s seven billion people on the planet. Chances are, if I could break down the language barrier and bend the space time continuum so I could explain your Super Important Cause to everyone on the planet, I could fill several auditoriums worth of people who find your cause to be ridiculous.
Sometimes, that’s because people are awful. Other times, it’s because they just can’t relate to you. Or sometimes—and this one is crazy I know, but bear with me—they might disagree with you. :O
That last one is the most fun, I think. When people get offended because someone doesn’t take their belief as seriously as they do. It is fantastic that you have the deeply held belief that women should have access to affordable birth control because you know someone who had some problem some time and it was awful and if we can prevent this kind of thing we should and blah blah blah. I’m still going to make jokes about it.
It’s not even that I don’t care. I do! A lot, in fact! Hell, I don’t even come down against the idea of providing affordable healthcare to women that includes birth control. In fact, I believe that the idea of saying “It’s not my responsibility” is a selfish mentality no matter the context when it comes to helping your fellow citizens and that if we really want to grow into a mature society, we need to acknowledge that we won’t be able to isolate ourselves from everyone we disagree with, but should still support each other and oh GOD I’M ALREADY BORED.
These conversations have a place. I’m even willing to have them with you. And you will occasionally see me drop the act and be frank and honest with you. I change the way I talk when I do that so you should be able to tell. But most of the time, honestly? I’d rather just make jokes. It’s more fun and, oddly, you get people to open up more when you laugh with them.
This is the thing that gets me about politics. Everyone is eager to take a side and hold a position and have a value and fight the good fight. Let me paraphrase that sentence: Everyone is eager to fight. Political races, and by extension the moral debates we have over and over and over again, become wars. Not to everyone, of course. In fact there are a lot of you that can have delightful conversations about your beliefs. But the ones who speak the loudest are also the ones most eager for a fight. And I have a problem with that. Here’s what it is:
I like you too much to want to fight you.
There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, I actually like people. I think people are dumb. I think they do idiotic things and are jerks, and in groups they’re especially awful, and there are some that I just relate to so little that I can’t stand to be around them. But deep down beneath my sarcastic, crusty exterior that desperately needs a shave, I like people. When I get to have conversations with people where I get to know them, and I mean really get to know them, I become thoroughly intrigued.
This makes it so much easier to have a conversation with people, though. If you genuinely like people, and want to relate to them no matter what they believe or like or do, and if you want to make them laugh even if they disagree with you, it’s so much easier to have a real conversation with them. Hell, you might even persuade them over to your side! But don’t have conversations with people just for that purpose. That’s a douchey thing to do.
There are enough people in the world who fight the good fight. I’m happy for them and encourage them to keep doing what they have the passion and the drive to do. I am thrilled to see people like that do the things they do. But when you couple passion to do good things with the compulsive need to be right and beat the other guy, I just can’t stand to talk to you anymore. Which is fine for me. If I can’t stand talking to you, I’m going to do exactly what I do if I enjoy talking to you: make jokes.
Most people, though? They’re going to argue with you. They’re going to get defensive and start a debate and things will get heated and no one will walk away better and eventually it escalates to the point that the cable news networks are attaching your story to exploding intro graphics. Which, by the way, is also silly.
It’s unproductive, exhausting, furthers the divide between us, and most importantly, it’s boring. I don’t know about you, but I’m able to have much better conversations with people when I’m able to laugh with them. Laughter makes people comfortable. Comfort breeds familiarity and familiarity leads to sympathy. I’ve been sympathetic to a lot of people on a lot of issues and, frankly, I can see how all the major things we debate about are too complex to fight over. It takes people working together to solve problems. Not people fighting against each other.
I’m not saying I don’t want to talk politics with you. Or have a moral debate with you. Or discuss how to fix big problems we all face with you. I’m just saying that if we’re having those talks, and especially if you decide you just want to share your beliefs at me, don’t be surprised if I make jokes. It’s only because I think fighting with you about it is stupid.
* I’m also laughing on the inside whenever I say “cheesed.” That is such a funny word to me.