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we can still joyfully laugh
even while being laughed at
Stephen Colbert. I mention him not necessarily to focus solely on him. Rather, he is symbolic of an evolution I have undergone these past few years.
I loved his show. I would look forward to 11:35! Not many comedians (and people in general) are so conversant in philosophy, theology, literature, and just all-around topics of interest. I really admire that about him. When he spoke of the first time he met his future wife, Evie, he seamlessly worked the Odyssey into the story. It was the stuff of love stories. However, as time went on, my enthusiasm began to wane. He seemed tedious on certain topics. With the onset of Covid, I began to feel that way regarding many people and many groups.
It did take a few months. At the start, I was a faithful follower of the regime of masking, keeping a “social distance” of six feet, and of not shaking hands—but doing that fist bump! I bought in to the necessity of sanitizing all manner of surfaces. Along with so many others, I lamented that while no one likes the lockdowns, they are essential for the common good. I even overlooked the crude language of celebrities who counseled and chided us “to stay the f*ck home.”
And then the vaccines appeared. My wife Banu and I decided to take a “wait and see” approach. We weren’t opposed to them; we just wanted to see which would have the mildest side effects. It’s not like we were mandated to take the jab, lest our livelihood be jeopardized.
We waited and saw that the “vaccines” would probably be better described as “genetic manipulation.” There were and are a vast array of problems, some criminal in nature, that could be discussed. However, open and honest exchange of scientific and medical findings has yet to occur. But here is some good news: we’ve enjoyed plenty of bullying, shaming, and censoring!
There were a few moments of sanity in 2020. Banu and I were entering a grocery store when one of our friends was about to leave. She was suddenly gripped with a sense of panic. She was driving her mother’s car, and she feared she had locked the keys inside the vehicle. I instinctively put my arm around her shoulders to comfort her. She hesitated, remembering the decrees from on high, then welcomed my efforts. (As it turned out, it was a false alarm. She recovered the keys, safely outside the locked car!)
So, Stephen Colbert. I still tune in from time to time.
As I already said, it’s less about him as about what he symbolizes for me. As Covid wore on, people who at one time were deeply suspicious of big pharma—and certainly censorship—seemed to do a 180. Mega corporations would make billions of dollars without fear of lawsuit. Those who pointed out the debilitating and even lethal effects of these experimental medicines and suggested other avenues of therapy were dismissed as conspiracy theorists and subjected to mockery.
Those who claimed to be liberal showed how easily it was to become illiberal.
Okay, enough of the hand wringing!
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). We need not be set on evil for our plans to fail, however good our intentions. Of course, there are those bent on evil, but let’s not be Debbie Downer!
What power does joy offer? To the extent we possess joy, to the same extent we are guided by the Holy Spirit. After all, joy is the fruit, the emanation, of the Spirit.
There is a story from Kabbalah, the wisdom of Jewish mysticism, going along these lines. We are told there is a righteous pillar extending from earth to heaven. If there are righteous people in the world, the pillar is strengthened. Without the righteous, the pillar is weakened. It upholds the entire world. If it weakens, the world cannot endure. So if the world contains just one righteous person, that person sustains the world. [Daniel Matt, The Essential Kabbalah, 78]
Who is that righteous person? Perhaps there is one slumbering within each of us. Perhaps we only need to be stirred.
Joy can be beaten, it can be attacked, but it can never be defeated.
I understand Stephen Colbert has poked fun at the unvaccinated, which includes me. I know he has made more than one unkind remark. But if we get bogged down in mutual recriminations, what hope is there? Can we not extend each other grace?
What can stand up to bullying, shaming, and censoring if not joy, if not that righteous pillar upon which our entire world stands?
Wasn’t there someone who spoke of loving your enemies and doing good to those who hate you?
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