by Jazzyblue TR
American Antiques Humor, Jest Like Lincoln – Elevate, Never Desecrate
American antiques figures of fun towards the American colonists by their English oppressors in mockery included figures such as Yankee Doodle Dandy. Yet young America embraced him, even when he could only ride into town on a Yankee pony, not a proper Englishman’s horse. He and his pony meant business, and English who did not join in the revolutionary zeal were welcome to return to England, or someplace nearby that felt English, say English Canada, which they came up and founded. Though young America was modest and poor in contrast to the richest in Britain the wind was at it’s back enough to change the world.
This difference in rank and wealth was immense for the times, and it shows in portraits of American or English of the time, and in the backgrounds in the range of comfort in the homes. And yet the wit and wisdom of Benjamin Franklin in his many years of publishing Poor Richard’s Almanac created legends to live by, and achievements attainable in this new land. And so rich and fat John Bull would mock poor Brother Jonathan, representing all the poor colonists hanging together so they don’t hang separately.
Until Abraham Lincoln. At this point, the newspapers of the world saw brother Jonathan morph into a taller Uncle Sam, who grew a beard just when Lincoln did, and was not to be laughed at or mocked on the world stage. Behind cabinet doors, history now shows it took diligent effort on the part of Lincoln to have the powerful men of New York take seriously this awkward bumpkin from the west. But, one by one, Lincoln took them on, and mostly won their fond loyalty by the merit of his worth as an exceptional human being able to understand deeply and feel empathy for the least.
-With a powerful twist: the ability to cause all to break into unexpected laughter by Lincoln’s always brilliant mind, able to find a way to lighten everyone’s very heavy loads- by now all in cabinet had lost sons in this terrible war- during the darkest hours of America’s darkest hours for the north, and for democracy on earth, during low moments in the Civil War. Thus, whenever possible, as with Franklin before, Lincoln would make a jest in a play on words to surprise and lighten tension during very tense times.
-In his debates with Senator Douglas, Lincoln would double on back in logic on Douglas and leave him with little to reply at times. Lincoln said Douglas reminded him of the underpowered tug boat he saw on the Mississippi River. It had only engine enough to toot it’s horn, or quietly push forward. Lincoln had river rat humor on the other side of the Mississippi river that Mark Twain would make famous in Tom Sawyer decades later.
-Yet Mark Twain helped the world emancipate itself when people read of Tom in situations of humor, and of life and death and freedom, and how Tom has a moment of truth that reaches deep into the human psyche on the nature of who we are. When he hears black Jim sob for his wife and child sold separately from him, and he thinks of the words of the Christian preacher that it is a mortal sin to not return a slave to his rightful owner, Tom declares he will go to hell then, he will not turn Jim back in to his master, but help him flee north to freedom.
Here, the contrast of the unexpected, the fearful decision to face the wrath of hell if that is what it takes to do the right thing, or not allow the wrong to happen. Humor swings on the polar axis of this, and we see Mark Twain use that often, to mock the mutual human folly in us all. The very irony that his first article from the California gold fields about the frog jumping contest of Calaveras County was eagerly printed as a bright light of humor in the darkest months of the Civil War for the North. As with today, the witty humorist speaks to our hearts, our minds, our souls, our concerns, our hopes.
Now science and social intellience show us how to create the ingredients for laughter, and it does not need to have a victim. Example: years ago, I was asked what I thought of the great movie hit of the year, “The Bible”. I said I preferred the Book. Guffaws of laughter. For your status to rise, your humor should elevate, not desecrate. Humor requires intelligence and wit, and most attempts limp along with a victim, making that humor dark some where. Show your superior inner realizations by your shock value being on the upside for your victim. Example: a symphony break, lineup in the Men’s Room, only three urinals, twenty men, all in pain. Remarks to those at the urinals range from “hurry up you guys”, to “what’s the matter, can’t you find it”, “Yeah, someone send up a pair of tweezers.
Some times if you have asked yourself such a question as, What Would Lincoln Say Now, positive not negative can be adjusted in your brain like beer at a fest, it simply flows. Thus, I recognized one of the the Three Urinators as my lawyer, and said loudly, “Oh you know those bulls with long horns; they are probably trying to still unfurl the damn thing”. Guffaws of laughter; my lawyer swung around to wave hi at me, peeing on a rude guy. Win-win.
And if Lincoln had ever been lined up at a picnic, and the farmers were lining up for the one latrine, you now know I swing from his same vines. You can do it too. This is your life and each daily event, you get to choose. And remember, if you ever see a solemn and wonderful Uncle Sam looking into your eyes, and asking of you what you have done for your country, know this is the best in America, the world.
America has given the world such fine examples: the emotional intelligence and resolve of Abraham Lincoln, the inspiration of John F. Kennedy. Yet playful, helpful, peace corps types both. About time both these two mighiest aircraft carriers on earth began a renewal of America’s Peace Corp, Big John and Honest Abe.
So we suggest that we present the Admiral’s Cap to the Peace Corps Big John to the wife of the Governator of California, Mrs. Democrat Maria Shriver Schwartzenager, and her Republican husband the American Good Will Ambassador. And who to take New Peace Corps Abraham Lincoln- a Republican- into disaster zones? You get to choose. Roll around in your mind, consider the group you are in, and some one will say some silly damn thing that simply cries for a more balanced response.
You should practice, baby strikes, but how to strike like the sweetest little asp this side of Cleopatra’s neck when a fool is busy painting an X on his or her forehead, and the eyes of those bright minds you respect are beginning to roll. An intelligent social voice needs to speak up, not go on. Light strikes at first, and best to keep them with no sting, simply a mark. In the minds of all, that the snide comment of some fool had been lifted upside down and plunked back on the fool as the manure beneath the daisy for all else.
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