No matter what you may think of filmmaker Michael Moore, you can’t help but find the list he posted on Facebook yesterday: “Do These 10 Things and Trump Will Be Toast” intriguing. Several of this “Top 10” list are not unlike the document "Indivisible" that was recently released to guide progressives in dealing with the current political situation: you should call some elected rep at least every day, make a monthly visit to one of your reps offices, join organizations that are working on the issues you think are important. A couple of Moore's suggestions are surprising: if you live in a "Blue" state, fight to make it proactively “blue” and be the change you wish for the world; seriously consider running for political office yourself. Wow - these make sense and are a lot of work but are certainly possible.
Then there’s #10 on Mr. Moore's list: "JOIN THE ARMY OF COMEDY: Trump’s Achilles heel is his massively thin skin. He can’t take mockery. So we all need to MOCK HIM UP! Not just the brilliant people at SNL or Colbert, Seth Myers or Samantha Bee ― but YOU. Use your sense of humor and share it with people. Get them to do the same...."
What??? I'm sure many of the most sincerely and deeply anti-Trump of reel at the thought of trying to be funny, publicly funny, even if they'd like to. Even if they're so full of reasons and impetus to skewer Trump and his world. The thought of actually mocking Trump and his world are just so scary, and so impolite (even though as people in positions of power these officials are ripe for satirical critique)…. Most of us would just as soon slip on a banana peel and, instead of comically getting up and walking away as onlookers giggle, just plain tragically break a hip! (Even if by the time we do it the ACA is gone and we've lost our insurance….)
The good news, or at least the spurring truth, for resistors of all sorts and of all levels of comic talent and confidence, is that we common folk of 21st century America are not unique when called to use humor to bring down a corrupt power base and turn the upside down world right-side up. It’s a tool used by average everyday Joe dissidents for a very long time.
It’s even in the Bible! If you were in church on Sunday you may very well have heard the gospel reading including these fairly familiar words of scripture:
This was part of the gospel lectionary reading for last Sunday, and perhaps the sermon you heard (or preached) included discussion about how these teachings of Jesus, while on the one hand reminding Christians to be generous in a variety of ways, are not calls to become passive “doormats.” Rather, they are instructions on how to become active non-violent resistors to the oppressive Empire they were suffering under.
And (whether the sermon you heard or preached included this additional note), that resistance - by turning the other cheek, giving coat and cloak, and walking the other mile - was powerful because it was funny! These actions mocked the Empire and the status quo and cleverly shamed the status quo that the Emperor and his 1% firmly if illegitimately in place.
We may not realize the humorous nature of Jesus’ teachings here, because we don’t understand/recognize their context. Like we wouldn’t find the following at all funny if we didn’t know what it’s parodying.
I posted these several years ago, and now is a good time to once again share. These are part of a very engaging lecture/demonstration that Dr. Walter Wink gave at Princeton where he discussed these teachings of Jesus — why they encourage and train his everyday hearers for non-violent activism, why the things they’re being trained to do will make onlookers (and they themselves) laugh...and why this is the way the Realm of God Jesus came to proclaim can emerge and transform our warped and wounded world.
As I mentioned above, there are several movements that have utilized humor to help bring about major non-violent revolution in their countries and communities. I am in the process of reading and soaking up their suggestions and will be sharing them here.
I sense an exciting, vital convergence of needs, resources, arenas and intellectual/creative disciplines coming together right now, especially for those committed to address what is going on in our nation since the November election. I’m thrilled and curious to do my part to lend my expertise and interests to the cause, as I know is the case for so many.
Humor definitely has a place here. Right now, in the midst of fray. And what’s really cool is that the Bible tells me so!