I often think about what passes for humor.
Sometimes we joke during tragedy, trying to find a way to cope with it. Sometimes we laugh at another person's misfortune. If that person isn't really hurt, or not truly humiliated, then perhaps I can see the humor.
But other times? Follow me if you will...
I was maybe 23 at the time. Swimming in the apartment pool with my husband, and enjoying the beautiful weather.
One second I was just splashing and having fun, the next I found myself underwater, with no warning. Strong, masculine arms held me down, and I hadn't even had time to draw a breath.
I tried to push away, but he held on. He was twice my size, so fighting got me nowhere. Water had gone up my nose, and my lungs felt like they were on fire. I started blacking out, and that's when he finally pulled me up.
Choking, sputtering, gagging... my body was trembling, and I was gasping for air. When I could finally speak, I asked him why he had done that.
His response? "Aw, come on... it's just a joke! Can't you take a joke?"
It may have been a joke to him, but it sure as hell wasn't funny to me. I was in pain for days.
A few weeks later, he convinced me to go swimming with him one more time, on the promise that he would never dunk me like that again.
Of course... he did. Just like the first time, it was from behind, and again, he waited until I was blacking out before he brought me back up.
It was many years (even after our divorce) before I could go in a pool again, especially if anyone else was there. I wouldn't put my face in the water, and I kept turning quickly, making sure nobody was behind me... and it took the patience of a good friend to even get me into the water in the first place.
So yeah... some things aren't funny to me.
There were so many little things like that in my marriage. He would walk behind me with the shopping cart, and bang into my heels every once in a long while. Just often enough to make me paranoid (I still won't walk in front of anyone I'm shopping with). He would walk in front, stop for something, wait until I had forgotten and walked ahead... and bang. I had bruises on my heels a lot. Too often.
He once told my children he would give them a dime if they would run up and slap me on the back. One agreed, the other refused. I don't remember which was which, but it doesn't matter. I don't blame them - I blame him.
And I won't even go into the public humiliation. Suffice to say that when I was in a restroom once, I heard a woman just outside the door say her husband's name in that tone of voice that I used to find so familiar... that "you say you love me, so why on Earth would you do something so humiliating to me in public?" voice. A plaintive sound, with just a touch of whimper, like a battered puppy. A tone of voice I knew too well. I didn't even have to see what had happened to know this woman had been humiliated, and I felt so sorry for her. And I hoped she would get away from him, as I had gotten away from my ex-husband. Because nobody deserves that.
And nobody deserves to go through life wondering if the next loud noise will be someone shooting at them, as Senator Kennedy did. I don't recall if it was one of his sons that said it, but whoever it was painted a picture of a haunted man... one who flinched every time he heard a loud noise. Always wondering if he would be next, and where that bullet might come from that would end his life.
But maybe all of that is funny to someone. I know it isn't funny to me. And maybe seeing people in red states going through disasters and hoping for the same government intervention they decried is hilarious - I know I felt a twinge of schadenfreude when I heard about Perdue and what had happened... but it was quickly sublimated by a feeling of sorrow. These are human beings. Some of them might be Republicans, some of them might be teabaggers, some of them might be ClusterFox viewers... but so what??
They are human beings. Every last one of them. Democrats, Republicans, Independents and apolitical people alike, and they're suffering. And whether we feel like some of them deserve what's happening to them or not, they are human beings, and they need our help right now.
I saw Rick Sanchez of CNN tweeting about a video they were going to show. One where some poor woman drowned in her car.
And then I read the diary that was recently on the rec list. Yeah, I will admit that enjoyed some of the snark. But it just felt out of place to me, because... we're supposed to be better than that. Aren't we? Aren't we the ones who are supposed to bring compassion back into the conversation?
Worse yet, some of the comments in that diary were, well... a bit too much for my tastes. Why is it that disaster brings out the best in us - and the worst? Can't we put aside the desires for justice, and instead wish for mercy?
Can't we put aside our differences and our humor... and help, instead?
And before you say "Yeah, but what are YOU doing?" let me say this to you: I'm writing this diary. I'm asking that everyone here do whatever they can. Anything at all, even if it's something small.
One year before Katrina, I lived through Hurricane Charley. I had a tree fall on my condo, and it was an entire year before our area stopped looking like a war zone. Been there - done that.
After Katrina, a group of online friends got together and organized a drive to get a generator and supplies to another friend in New Orleans who had been hit hard by the disaster. I was one of those who organized that effort. Two others in an area near the affected family took delivery of the money and generator, bought supplies, and delivered it all to the family in question. They even took pictures to show how it went. So yeah... I've walked the walk. Maybe I didn't do much, but everything helps.
So please... laugh at the hypocrisy later, when the crisis is over. I have no problem with that. But for now... I'm asking nicely here - please deal with the disaster. Show the community and the world at large that we have enormous hearts here at Daily Kos, because we do. That's part of what being a progressive community means. Isn't it??
If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to pass them along in comments.
And if you want to flame me... so be it. I can handle it.
I'll leave you with this:
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee." - John Donne
Update: Thanks for putting me on the list. :) But mostly, I wanted to say that this isn't a "blame" diary. It isn't intended that way at all. I just wanted to explore the idea of humor, and why it is such a personal issue for me.
Thank you all for the wonderful comments. There are a lot of wonderful and insightful people here, and I'm grateful to all of you.
Update #2: Sorry, but I can't reply to comments for a little while. I have chronic tendinitis, and I guess I overdid it trying to respond to all the beautiful and brilliant comments here. But then, I don't really think my input is all that necessary. :) Carry on!
Update #3: For those of you who feel anger at my ex-husband, know this - he did stop abusing a few years after our divorce.
I've seen some strong and angry reactions to what he did, and I understand that, and appreciate that people care so much, but let me repost here what I said to someone who said I should have killed him (this person was then HR'd into oblivion):
No no no.
He was the father of my children, and they loved him.
I got out, and actually, during the last year or so of our marriage, he mellowed some... his later girlfriends told me that as the years went by, he lost a lot of that attitude. But then, I talked to him about the things he did, during and after the marriage. He went from "I didn't do that!!" to "I didn't do that... did I??" to "I'm sorry I did that".
People can change.
Unfortunately, he took his own life, back in 2003. And his children were devastated.
So no... I wouldn't have wished that on him.
I didn't love him anymore, but I didn't hate him, either. Glad I got away, glad he changed, and sorry he died.
People are people... nobody is perfect, and nobody is purely evil.