Two hundred forty-seven years ago, Thomas Paine penned “The Crisis,” observing that “These are the times that try men’s souls,” and inspiring Washington’s troops to cross the Delaware and defeat the Hessians on Christmas night.
Believe it or not, Paine’s quote was called to mind as I thought about the importance of humor. While it’s true that war is no laughing matter, the ability to find humor, even in the darkest of times, speaks to the resiliency of the human spirit.
A week or so ago, Elon Musk observed on Twitter — or X, whatever — that: “In any given conflict, the way to tell who the good guys are is whoever has the best sense of humor.”
NATO military intelligence became obsessed with stopping funny online memes that seeded support for populist right-wing political parties in Europe.— Mike Benz (@MikeBenzCyber) November 28, 2023
The Integrity Initiative leaks had required reading material for new NATO cluster cell recruits to defeat funny online memes pic.twitter.com/c52g90ZXCD
That may sound simplistic, but I do believe he’s on to something.
I can’t think of a glummer, more dreary group of people than the perpetually outraged professional left. When was the last time you saw anyone on the far left say or do anything remotely funny?
Conversely, even in the face of the horror of October 7th and the ensuing war, we see satirical accounts like the “The Mossad” and the “Gaza Ministry of Health” that find ways to laugh in the face of evil.
Perhaps that’s because the good guys have the advantage of knowing, deep down, that in the end, evil won’t win. And ultimately, it’s the good guys who have the last laugh.