Spending the day with a 20 month old is an eye-opener.
I know, news-flash there, but I’m in my mid 30s and have yet to reproduce. Nor do I spend much time around those lovely little vehicles of innocence. I love kids, I just don’t bump into too many hanging out in coffee shops and wandering the world.
While on a recent assignment in South Carolina, I spent the night with one of my oldest and dearest friends. His daughter is approaching the crux of those lovely terrible twos. She’s testing out her voice and seeing just how far she can push her luck in obtaining her desired outcome. She’s determined and resilient- and stubborn- like her father.
We were standing in the kitchen, having just finished an adult dinner of brie and crackers while the little one finished her toddler staple of chicken nuggets and corn. She’d just sucked down the last of her milk and wandered back into the kitchen where the remnants of our dinner were resting on the counter. She stretched her tiny arms to the edge of the counter and began her chant. Milk! Milk! Milk!
And she was debating on whether or not her demands should be supported by a full- lunged wail or a simple pouting cry to her father while she reached aimlessly onto the counter top looking for the milk she had just finished.
She chose the ear-piercing wail and filled her lungs in order to implement her agenda, when her father reached down and tickled her.
Tickled until her lungs, ready to wail, released the most delightful little giggle that tosses you backwards to a time when all you had to worry about was milk, your blanket and the hope that someone’s nose was tuned into the fact that your lunch just passed through your little body with a vengeance.
She giggled away and released her death-grip on the counter and shuffled after her dad into the den to watch a combination of Yo-Gabba Gabba and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
And I had to stop and think- what if all conflicts could be resolved with tickling. How simple would the world be if at the pinnacle moment of conflict driven retaliation or instigation, we were tickled and dissolved into laughter.
No- visions of Mubarak and Gaddafi being attacked by giant tickle machines before calling for mass annihilation of their people in an attempt to retain power- or enforce a western imperial agenda- is not a possible method of conflict resolution.
I get that. I’m not naive.
But what if humor were a means of conflict resolution. What if we glanced the humanity of another- one considered a mortal enemy or an impediment to the evolution of our nation- through the laughter and comedy that is inherent in all human beings?
What if the worst of the worst- and the largest stooges of the oligarchy- could be “re-programmed” to see the humor in another? What if the most impersonal among our leadership could learn to see a person’s laughter, their joy, their humanity?
Might they not be so inclined to see this person and his community as a commodity? Might they be convinced to look upon an “enemy” as a human, rather than a barrier to a natural resource to possess, exploit and consume?
What if we required Jon Stewart to attend all UN Security Council deliberations and act as the humorous mediator? What if we sent Dennis Leary along as the presidential attache for all diplomatic state dinners? What if we sent Lewis Black along with the Secretary of State to mediate the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks? What if Bill Maher became the moderator for each presidential debate?
Might the leaders of the world not wage war if they were looking at one another with a faint smile on their face? Might the men who issue the orders to destroy a village blocking access to an oil pipeline stop and reconsider if laughter were still echoing through their hearts?
Might the world be a little more secure if we were all just tickled at the moment our anger arose- and then vanished?
Authors Note: Happy Birthday, dear Jamy! Hard to believe our friendship spans three decades- are we that old? Love you and wishing you the best on your next journey in life! Ciao Bella!