Why is Failure Funny?

We have all seen it happen; maybe we did it ourselves. Kids still do it – a lot. Laughing when someone fails or falls or gets hurt. It’s why so many people like slapstick comedy (I’m not a fan); for some reason, it’s funny when someone does something that seems foolish to us. I never liked the 3 Stooges, but lots of people do. I’m sure there are reasons why we respond to failure this way; if you know why this phenomenon exists, please let me know. I have to say that even if there are proven, scientific facts for this, I still won’t get it. Failure isn’t funny. Embarrassment doesn’t feel good. And when people laugh at us, we remember.

I have been encouraged by the new rules the NFL has put into place penalizing taunting. I saw this happen the other day, and I think it is good policy to make it clear that winning doesn’t entitle us to embarrass the losers. That goes for sports, and it goes for politics. I will admit that I am happy that some people lost, but it isn’t about them personally; it is about their ideology. I have rarely voted for someone; usually, my vote has been against a particular platform or approach to social issues and equal rights. I have always believed that a nation based on the Constitution should generally expand rights, not take them away. Things like the right to vote or marry are the kinds of freedoms we should be concerned about.

This is not the time for an end zone dance or victory lap; it is never okay to be vindictive in victory. And while there are some bad people out there who are trying to create anarchy and control parts of the population, my experience is that most people truly believe they are making the country a better place. Even when they vote differently than I do, they are patriots. This is why voting in church about controversial topics (like publicly welcoming groups that have been excluded) can often do harm. Nobody likes to be on the losing side of anything, but there are winners and losers in almost everything. That can’t be helped. How we respond can.

And while the winners in this week’s election are all saying the right things, we who voted for them need to make sure they actually do the right things. We need to take unity seriously; we need to recognize just how hard it is to not get one’s way. No applause – no taunting – no saying “Nana Nana Foo Foo!”; we have all been on the losing side, and we need to remember what that feels like. It is the simplest of all things to do, at least in this case; to follow the Golden Rule. Right now is the perfect time to do just that – treat others the way you would want to be treated. Because we might be in their shoes someday, and they will remember how we treated them. Kindness goes both ways.

Prayer – Holy God, help us to be humble and gracious when we win and when we lose. Amen. Today’s art is called “The Art of Humility”, but I couldn’t find the artist’s