Indian People are great teasers and shy away from the person who can't take
a tease. They know that these folks haven't grown up yet, haven't a clue,
perhaps never will, and take everything more personally than ever intended.
Truly, a person who doesn't have a sense of humor and can't laugh at himself
is a danger to himself and everyone else. These folks even end up hurting their
loved ones with desperate attempts to reclaim their pride over imagined insults.
Proficient teasers are held in high regard among Native Peoples. I recall a
sad situation involving the son of a great Winnebago leader, one of the best
teasers to have walked the Red Road. The middle-aged son tried to imitate his
popular father's funny put-downs and friendly insults, but could never get the
hang of it. The son's brand of humor always came off with a bitter aftertaste,
leaving the listeners depressed or resentful.
Not only are good teasers appreciated, but those who are able to take a tease
with a grain of salt. . . letting it slide off like water from a duck's back, are
highly valued. In the case of those who get angry when teased, it is almost as
if some folks are covered with invisible hooks, just waiting for a slightly off
center comment they can hook onto and use against the unwary offender. The
Bible warns against those who would make an offender of someone for a stray
word. There are many who do not appreciate the intent behind teasing humor
and their pride is on constant search and destroy mission.
In the old days, when two tribes met in the course of their seasonal migrations,
they were very careful with their words, lest an insult lead to a confrontation with
women, elders and children present. At times like these, self-control, timing, the
ability to judge character and even self-depreciating humor were serious matters.
When and how to use humor constructively was a highly valued survival tool.
As Gentle Survivalists, we need to evaluate our ability to handle uncomfortable
situations with appropriate humor and perhaps even take new acquaintances out
for a humor quotient test drive to see how mature they are before letting down
Warning! Most bosses, teachers or those in authoritarian roles frown on any and
all attempts to employ one's sense of humor in the form of a tease. As for our own
maturity and ability to survive a tease and laugh at ourselves, we might think about
the practice of true charity. The scriptures say that one who possesses true charity
is not easily offended, is not puffed up and seeketh not her own. In other words,
those in possession of charitable spirits aren't covered with hooks, or chips on their
shoulders, aren't interested in putting people in their place for a single mispoken
word or bit of misinterpreted humor. Charity is more than giving material goods, it
is an attitude that ignores the small trespasses of others and forgives large ones
immediately, knowing that forgiveness begets forgiveness. Charity is a largeness of
Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.
So few people are in possession of true charity, that is it any wonder Christ taught
this virtue would hide a multitude of sins?|
Copyright 1997 Laura Martin-Buhler