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If we wish to change the person we find ourselves to be, we must change our thinking.
December 4th, 2018
It’s become a staple of many current identities to state conditions that the rest of the world must abide by.
An example of this is someone who says something along the lines of “I will not accept being bullied by anyone.”
“I will not accept discrimination.”
And such and so forth.
While the world would presumably be better without bullying or discrimination, it’s a bit silly to think that world is going to suddenly manifest without bullying and discrimination.
While these sound strong and empowering, they are so unrealistic as to evoke nothing but a yawn. Bullying does happen and whether it comes our way or not is not a choice that we can make and command the external world with. Same with discrimination and any other phenomenon that someone might find inconvenient, disagreeable, or offensive.
This is an incredibly unwise tactic because it’s nearly certain to fail. For someone who says “I will not accept being bullied”… what exactly does such a person do when the bullying comes their way? Presumably they stamp their feet aghast that the universe could have the gall to do such a thing.
What’s a better outlook?
Several examples come to mind.
Possibly one of the oldest and ballsy is related in the book of Job. Our man Job becomes the center of a wager between god and the devil. God essentially allows for the devil to ruin the man's life completely as a test of the man’s faith. In the end our man Job dishes out some disappointed words for his god when he finds out the truth of his circumstances.
A more contemporary, and probably accessible example is Casino Royal’s James Bond. Near the end of the movie, Bond is being tortured and makes a joke of the whole affair, enduring what must be an incredible amount of pain. There is an amazing lesson in such a perverse circumstance. Even in the most vulnerable possible situation, this character has a mind that cannot be invaded. His body matters little compared to his ability to have the last laugh.
Speaking of laughing, we might bring up the somewhat morbid musical Little Shop of Horrors. One micro story in the musical is that of a sadistic dentist who gets pleasure from inflicting pain. He meets his match when one day a masochist walks in having heard that the dentist dishes out just the sort of pain that he’s looking for. The sadistic dentist tries with all his skill to illicit a scream from the masochist, but the masochist literally gets the last laugh, as does 007 and our boy Job.
The best villains also reserve the right to the last laugh, which is what can make their influence so insidious.
The obvious one would be the Joker from the Batman series. No matter the pain he experiences or how his plans are thwarted, he can’t help but giggle.
Then of course there is the Predator from the first movie. At the very end he has been beaten, but the creature initializes a bomb strapped to his wrist and then invokes the right to the last laugh.
These heroes and villains all incorporate the same principle:
It’s simply impossible to get the best of someone who is going to genuinely laugh along with you.
This is taking the world as it comes but reserving the right to react on your own terms.
What kind of person do we want to be? The one who gets offended? or the one who is quite literally invincible. Who can have everything taken from them, their family, friends, even their body and life and will simply laugh in the face of such fate…
Instead of trying to fit the world into some kind of unrealistic box that must accord to our stipulations,
we might want to declare something like, “I reserve the right to manically laugh at absolutely anything and everything that happens to me.”
As creatures capable of such dispositional control, we’re better off in the open and unafraid. Even the machinations of malevolent gods can be toppled from their seats of power if only we can laugh right to the very end.
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