I like jokes. I like to joke. I think I'm a little bit funny..... no?
Have you ever made an insensitive joke not realizing that someone in the room may be affected by what you are joking about? This happened to me a few years ago and I still feel like a total heel for it.
I'll set the stage for you
I'm havin' a party. Peeople are smiling, laughing, chatting. Pretty much all things you want to see at a party. I feel pretty good about being the host of said party.
Ooh, look at me. I throw such fun parties.
So I'm mingling. Chatting, laughing and all that. I'm talking about my inability to live in a messy house, and how my "obsessive compulsive disorder" comes out. (I've never been diagnosed with this problem, but from the wisdom of the internet, I'd say it's not a stretch) As I was joking about my own craziness I said something to the effect of how if something needs to be picked up/cleaned I get a twitch. For effect, I started making my head twitch to the side.
Trust me- if you were there you would know, it really added to the joke.
My sister shoots me a dirty look, which I really didn't understand, but I drop it and move on. Later on she comes up to me and hits me in the arm telling me how insensitive I was. Turns out the guy next to me when I was telling the joke has Tourettes Syndrome... and he twitches. Whoops...
So here's the thing. Joking about insensitive things when people are affected by it really sucks. You feel like a dummy, and they probably feel even worse. Is that the only reason why we shouldn't joke about innapprpriate things though? Should we only be sensitive to people we know?
There's something that started bugging me a few months ago. It seems to be such a common joke that it's become lighthearted when it should be heavy. It's taking a real, heartbreakingly brutal, life wrecking struggle and making it so simple that it's insulting.
Let's see if this sounds familiar.
"Hey Jim, where'd ya get that bruise on your arm?"
"Oh, ha ha, don't tell my wife you saw it, she might hit me harder later tonight"
Or, more commonly:
Upon seeing Sheila's huge bruise
"Hey Mark, you should stop beating your wife"
"Ya, or at least use the soap in a sock trick next time."
Laughter breaks out in the room
Sidenote- Why do we all seem to know how to hurt people without leaving bruises??
I don't know anyone who has suffered under domestic violence, and by the grace of God I never will.
If your Sister/Aunt/Mother/Cousin had ever suffered through the reality of domestic violence do you think you would still laugh at these jokes? Or do you think that you might be able to picture their bruised faces and feel the pain that they felt? You might even feel a bit angry at the insensitivity of "harmless" jokes such as these.
You may not all identify with this, but as a follower of Christ I try to love and treat each person as though they are my brothers and sisters because we are all children of God, and so we are all in one family. So, no- I don't personally know a woman who has been beaten by her husband, but she's my sister and so my heart is broken for her.
And I hate to point this out too, but really, how do you know without one shred of doubt that someone in the room hasn't suffered from domestic abuse? Or maybe their Sister/Aunt/Cousin?
Be sensitive. To the situations you don't know about, but also (arguably more importantly) to the people you don't know.