I sense that when we imagine the stereotypical legit activist, one who advocates for justice and equality on behalf of the voiceless and powerless we don’t necessarily imagine someone who would appreciate a good Will Ferrell movie. Rather than imagining a whimsical or playful personality my imagination tends to lean toward somber, stoic, and pre-occupied, the type of people who wouldn't allow themselves to giggle at the odd sounding fart.
This is my experience.
Once I began accepting the prompts to hang among, befriend, and move toward a place of solidarity with the pain and suffering of those from below, I had to accept the wintery emotional state that often accompanies me in those uncomfortable places. And even if I didn't experience an automatic feeling of sadness to match the hard environments I find myself in, through my own knee-jerk feelings of guilt and shame I often end up there anyway.
My son, Josiah, is 2 and he loves to laugh. To be thrown up in the air and feel those funny feelings in the belly… To make goofy faces at the dinner table… These are the simple and great things that come with the colorful terrain of being a kid. Josiah's child-like ways will often break down the heavies that sometimes saturate me when I've been among those who are hopeless much of the day. Sometimes it brings to the surface an intriguing tension to walk in a home marked by the laughter of a two year old when I’ve just come from dwelling with people and places marked by severe pain.
Jesus says blessed are those who dwell in those cold hard places. Blessed are the poor and blessed are the peacemakers. But he also told his disciples that unless you change and become like little kids again you just won’t understand what the Kingdom is all about. And I believe that being like a child means being able to laugh and find joy in the smallest and goofiest things of life.
Stumbling upon this unique harmony is just one paradox among many in the spiritual life. It's a scandal worth pursuing deeply. Advocating for those who are suffering alongside pursuing an attitude and posture that is quick to be playful and one that allows for fits of gut busting laughter. Carrying BOTH of these with you in whatever environment you find yourself is the beginning of wisdom.