Why Am I Not Laughing?

I have a confession:  Yesterday I threatened to hurt somebody.  Their response: Calm down.  “It’s just a joke.”  I walked away without saying anything else, in fear of saying something that couldn’t be taken back.  I’m looking back now and wondering why, if it was a joke, I am not laughing.

It’s a stupid thing, but it seems like too many people are making the same “joke” and it is no longer something fun, but it feels more malicious than it used to be.

I take pride in who I am.  Where I’ve been.  I accept who I was yesterday because it has made me who I am today.  And so many times I feel that past is called into question.  If feels as if others are trying to force me to choose between accepting who I was and still am, and the person they expect me to be now that I am here.

It’s a simple thing when you look at it.  Here in the ERT we have pride in our program.  And in some ways people take the stance that this is the best AmeriCorps program out there.  The way I see it, this is the best program for who I am now, in this moment.  And many times this thought process goes to our heads.  We look down on other programs.  We belittle them.  Put them in their place.

The simple fact is that I am (and will always be) a “N-Trip.”  I was a Corps Member in the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).  This isn’t something that I used to be, but it is who I am.  I made the pledge to “Carry this commitment with me this year, and beyond.”  I am also a Team Leader through FEMA Corps.  Nothing can change that.

In that pride, I still sport my NCCC A’s.  The uniform that made me who I am. But recently I’ve been challenged time and time again to change who I am.  I’m told that I need to mark out the NCCC on the A, because it’s “not who you are.”  Or “You’re not an N-Trip anymore.”  Or that it’s an inferior program, below us.  “You are better than that.”  But I stand firm.

After yesterday’s comment of “It’s just a joke,” I’m coming to realize that it’s really not.  It may have started out as one, but it’s gone on way too long.

And I begin to think of how many times in the rest of our lives that we make people uncomfortable with what we feel are jokes.  We don’t see the individual cringe, or flinch.  We don’t recognize their discomfort even though it’s right in front of us.

We need to learn to step back and realize when others aren’t laughing.  And then we may see that we are no longer joking.

God Bless and PEACE


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