Friday, July 5, 2013

The Scourge

We must take a step back. I forgot to mention an important moment in my life.

At the time, it did not seem very important. Of course, it is a small thing, and I'm only capable of understanding its strength now that I am an adult.

Come back with me....

It is the year E.T. came out. A very heartbreaking and heartwarming movie. Maria and I were enthralled. Wendy was instantly in love with E.T. Bill was too young to enjoy it, but eventually he was inspired, too.

Maria and I especially enjoyed the funny parts. When Elliott tells E.T. to shut up when he keeps saying, "E.T. phone home." when he's in that white coffin-looking thing. When all the boys are flying through the air and Greg says, "Tell me when it's over!"

But we simply adored the following lines:

Greg: "Can't he just beam up?"
Elliott: "This is reality, Greg."

We died laughing. I mean -- that is hilarious.

It is also the scourge of mankind. Sarcasm.

I use it. Maria, Wendy, and Lela can wield it like magicians.

However, Elliott might as well have called Greg an idiot. Let's imagine, for one moment, what Greg felt after Elliott said that. It was Greg's first real glimpse of E.T. How did he know what the alien was capable of? Elliott had several days with E.T. He had the advantage of knowing a lot more about the little guy. And yet, instead of considering all this, the writers choose to treat Greg like he's an idiot. It's not a stupid question. I mean, for crying out loud, E.T. could heal Elliott's wounds with just a touch. He could make plants grow by just being around them. Why can't he beam up?

But sarcasm is funny. We all know Elliott doesn't think Greg is stupid. We all know it doesn't mean that Elliott doesn't like Greg. But....does Greg know that? Was he able to accurately assume Elliott's intent? Was he able to factor in the possibility that Elliott was anxious, nervous, and scared, so he spoke quickly? Was Greg able to forgive Elliott for treating him so callously?

These are things we cope with today. Interpreting sarcasm. It can be seen as bullying.

If someone is usually sarcastic, we can imagine this person might be seen as a bully. For example, it is your second week of school. You and your peers are starting to relax. You walk into math class wearing your favorite shirt. Peer A says to you, "Where'd you get that shirt? Queers 'R Us?"

Everyone laughs.

It's mean isn't it? But just because Peer A said such a thing, doesn't mean he doesn't like you. It means he has a sarcastic mouth.

This is the dilemma, for we can't rid our society of sarcasm. We must cope with it.

And that is the MOST important thing school teaches us -- how to cope. Some of us develop very good coping skills, some not so much.

And before you tell me that the school and the world was better in the 1950s, watch a routine from Bob Hope. He uses sarcasm. I promise.

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