Monday, October 19, 2009
I’m a pretty funny girl, with an off-the-cuff sort of humor, relaxed and quick witted. When I worked as an RN, the staff and I often used humor to deal with difficult, flesh and blood, situations when there was an event or situation that was just too much to emote in any other way; we chose to laugh. Laughter brought us closer together when we couldn’t deal with the reality of the human condition. I’m all for it. I hold myself personally culpable for laughing irreverently behind the scenes. It wasn’t something we talked about later. It was a private uncontrollable expression of our loss or grief or uncomfortableness for the situation we found ourselves in. It was never directed towards anyone with the intent to harm. We were caretakers afterall. We cared. We cared so much, we grieved for people we barely knew. We grieved so many times during one shift, to survive we had to laugh.
Where would we be without humor in our daily challenges? Lost, I presume, sitting dumbfounded on some street corner without a compass. I am beginning to think many people are already lost as reflected in the type of humor they choose to use. Lost in the sense that they follow trends and lack independent thought. What I’m speaking about is the increased prevalence of sarcasm. You see, I don't get "sarcasm"...I mean, of course, I know what it means and I really understand how people make use of it. I strive to live my life expressing kindness and I simply choose to disagree with the use of sarcasm. I choose not to be sarcastic. When sarcasm is directed towards me, I respond with "what, excuse me?" and they often say, like the cat caught holding the bag, "oh, I didn't mean anything...I was being sarcastic." Really? Why say something you don't mean? Either express yourself freely, bravely, accurately or keep quiet and display a little class. Who is laughing by the way?
People wield sarcasm with pride as if it is a reflection of their intelligence or cleverness. I write this to inform you, in my opinion, sarcasm is a coward’s choice; express yourself without cruel innuendoes. Sarcasm speaks harshly and bitterly toward another with intent to wound. Wherein lies the humor? Use sarcasm and you weave a thread of hate into the cloth of your community. People do many things simply because they have observed similar behavior by others, and act without first questioning the ramifications. Ridiculing with words in the name of humor is not only hateful, heartless, and harmful but lacks integrity, and ...I ask again: who’s laughing? Which leads me to wonder if sarcasm is misunderstood by most people; the flock running toward the cliff.
Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, the least KIND, and I might add, the least humorous. Getting to the bottom of it, the true meaning of this very popular proclivity for insult, stems from the Latin word, sarcasmus, which in turn comes from the Greek sarkasmos, from sarkazein, meaning “to bite the lips in rage.” The root word, sarx, sark meaning literally “flesh”- translation: “to cut a piece of flesh (from the person it is directed toward).
Sarcasm is a platform used by the fearful to express their biased opinions toward another, glossing and hiding their feelings behind a tone of sarcasm. If you haven’t learned how to openly communicate your harsh feelings in kind ways, and many of us haven’t, then, for the peace of us all, politely keep them to yourself. If you’d like a bit of help, Webster offers understanding on alternate choices when you feel the need to add levity to the moment.
Forms of wit according to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:
Wit, Humor, Irony, Sarcasm, Satire, Repartee mean a mode of expression intended to arouse amusement. Wit suggests the power to evoke laughter by remarks showing verbal felicity or ingenuity, and swift perception, esp. of the incongruous. Humor implies an ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, and the absurd in human life and to express these usually without bitterness. Irony applies to a manner of expression in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is seemingly expressed. Sarcasm applies to expression frequently in the form of irony that is intended to cut or wound. Satire applies to writing that exposes or ridicules conduct, doctrines, or institutions either by direct criticism or more often through irony, parody, or caricature. Repartee implies the power of answering quickly, pointedly, or wittily.
Lastly, I have always held the opinion that wit and all it’s forms all carry with them an underlying whisper of truth, yours, theirs, or ours as a collective.
Here are few quotes from folks who agree:
“ A JOKE IS A VERY SERIOUS THING.” --Winston Churchill
“SARCASM I NOW SEE TO BE, IN GENERAL, THE LANGUAGE OF THE DEVIL; FOR WHICH REASON I HAVE LONG SINCE AS GOOD AS RENOUNCED IT.” --Thomas Carlyle
“WE ARE SUFFERING FROM TOO MUCH SARCASM.” --Marianne Williamson