Laughing at the suffering of others

From a Facebook thread:

The article starts off starts off:

Even in 2010, growing up gay isn’t easy. Add in the complicating factors of being a mentally challenged, biracial guy who wants to wave around pom-poms in a small town, and you have a recipe for the most hellacious high school experience in Eastern Washington.

Benjamin Grundy is a student at Garfield-Palouse High School (local population: 1,100) who says the school is discriminating against his wishes to do what all the other cheerleaders are doing. Namely, dance, wave pom-poms, wear a proper uniform and not just stand like there like a statue moving his arms.

(end of excerpt)

I read some of the article, had some thoughts of a response, decided that I should respond privately because you might find my views interesting and useful, but realized that were I to respond publicly, it might seem like a rebuke (plus I guess you had second thoughts and deleted the link.)

My thoughts, oddly enough, have to do with an ancient Greek Orthodox legalistic book called “The Rudder” (Pedalion), which is a redaction of early century oral tradition and is not to be found in the Bible per se. I have a copy of “The Rudder” in English (about 1500 pages.) There is a passage which warns against the sin of laughing or mocking someone who is lame or cross-eyed, or in some other obvious fashion an easy target for ridicule because of some flaw in their constitution.

The Biblical passage which comes to mind is (paraphrased) “Anyone who calls his neighbor RACA (fool) shall be liable to hell-fire.” Now, it is curios that there is to the best of my recollection only one other passage where someone IS called fool (Raca), and it is God himself in a parable telling of the wealthy man who had all his silos and barns filled, and he said to himself “relax enjoy” and God says something like “Fool, you did not know that this very night your soul will be required of you (i.e. you shall die.)

Now the Bible NEVER says that there are not fools (raca) a-plenty in this world, but merely warns us that WE are not entitled to call someone a fool, even if they obviously are.

Each of us has our own weaknesses or temptations or compulsions which in our own live assume some paramount importance, while those around us might secretly shake their heads and says “why is THAT such a big deal to that person.”

People in the 1960s laughed at the life of the singer “Tiny Tim” who would sing “Tip Toe Through the Tulips” in falsetto no less; who married a young woman named Viki, and started a company which he called “Vik-Tim Records.” Johnny Carson had a laugh over that one.

We laugh at prominent figures like George W. Bush or Sara Palin or Martha Stewart or Bernie Madoff or Michael Jackson or Tiger Woods or Bill Clinton (with the cigar and Lewinsky) and we say HOW could these people get into such situations,… and essentially we call them RACA or fool and then we laugh.

There are no smiling icons among the Greek Orthodox. Orthodoxy is called that “gladdening sorrow.” There is an oral tradition that after Lazarus was raised from the dead, he lived many years and became a Bishop. He was so sobered by what he say beyond the grave that he only laughed once during the entire remainder of his life when he saw a thief stealing a clay pot and exclaimed “LOOK clay stealing clay.”

But in a way which we cannot fathom, if there is a God (and no one can prove that there is or there is not) then it is quite possible that such a God is not laughing and all of us fools (though indeed we are all fools in the eyes of some people), but rather resonates in compassion with the tragedy of our suffering.


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