Mother Teresa once said “love until it hurts, with a smile.” Have you ever tried to invert this into “smile until you harm”? Such a saying would sound really hard to accept, but without knowing many a times we end up doing this even unconsciously, and mistake it with humour or consider it a joke.
Sometimes we are unable to distinguish between being humourous and making fun of people. Humour can be given various facets and being a humorous person and being one who makes fun of others is not the same. Yet we may find it difficult to distinguish between the two. I would call a humorous person a “fool” – the others I would simply call the “bullies”.
The fool is generally a character generally portrayed as an intelligent, witty and most of the times tragic fellow. Take for example the fool portrayed in Shakespeare’s “King Lear” amongst others and Charles Chaplin’s Charlot (Tramp). These are not simply jesters capable of making tricks or simply someone fooling around; their words and gestures speak wise words about the reality they find themselves in and depict reality in a comic-tragic manner.
Then there is the Bully. He or she simply makes fun of the person, trying to destroy the person by picking on the weaknesses while exposing them, and using this to make others laugh.
The difference between the two may not be a subtle one yet it may present itself in a subtle difference on two basic characteristics; intelligence and respect. While the fool bases proposes intelligent comments and gestures aimed at provoking situations and mind-sets, doing so with respect towards the persons involved, the bully picks on defects and deficiencies, magnifies them and uses them to make people laugh, (similarly to the fool but) disrespectfully.
We may choose to do either; if we are not able to do the first then we might fall for the second. It is not just an issue with TV comedians or stand up comedies, it happens in our everyday life. Some seem to find pleasure in insulting or mocking others, either by exaggerating some defect or by repeating misinformation which simply makes people laugh – this is enthusiastically done when mocking religions and believers.
However this is not limited to this. As a society we encourage the bully more than the fool (may be because we are afraid of the latter’s provocation?) The bully is not necessarily an individual; this attitude could also be “institutionalized.” We still find amusement in the panem et circenses (i.e. free bread and fun). This is what happened in a free show, blown out of proportion by the media and those who promoted it: the “Zaren show”. This meant that last month one of the biggest losers was our sense of respect and dignity.
Therefore, blessed are the fools. This is not an addition to the beatitudes, but a personal reflection on the subtle difference between humour and mocking is in order. As a society we should be more wary of bullies who could be disguised under different masks.