Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hypocrisy and Community - "How about, nobody throws stones?"

Chris Rock provides amazing, socially relevant insight into American race-relations, dating and what it means to have social intelligence and a good network.

Rick Mercer gets Canadiana better than anyone out there.

When it comes to influencing Americans under 30, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are two of the most important voices concerning global events.

And then there's Demetri Martin. His policy is that nobody should throw stones.

A law-student-on-scholarship turned comedian, Demetri Martin got big after his faux-hipster segment, Trendspotting, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He's toured around the world, is a hit on YouTube and recently got his own show, Important Things. Critics are calling it "hit and miss" and, you know what, that's kinda how the guy rolls. Mostly, he's brilliant and quirky and pretty darn hilarious.

Demetri bases a lot of his comedy on the collection of interesting and funny data, consistently referred to as "findings."* He also has an important message for all the communities out there. And here it is:

"There's a saying," says Demetri, "that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Okay. How about, nobody should throw stones? That's crappy behaviour!" In fact, his policy** is no stone throwing regardless of housing situation.

What lessons can we learn from this? And what does stone throwing have to do with our community?

1. Listen to funny people. They're wiser than you think. Also, laughter totally reduces stress.

2. Throwing things (actual stones, words, bullets, tired provincial election rhetoric, urban chickens) at each other is no way to build community. Rather than throwing things, how about using ideas to build something (editor's note: like, I'm not entirely sure what a community-based project that was built using bullets looks like, I just know it's a way better idea than their typical, tragic use).

3. What's worse, indicting someone for something of which you're also guilty (ie. the glass house paradigm) or smugly pointing out someone's shortcomings (ie. you don't have a glass house, and you enjoy chucking rocks at people with whom you disagree)? When we bring each other up, instead of putting people down, everyone becomes better. And it's a beautiful thing.

4. Speaking of things, no great thing in history has ever been achieved by just one person. Whether its cooling this poor, hot planet of ours, taking a stand against gang violence, or bridging that yawning gap between Commercial Drive and Hummer owners, we need to do it as a team. As one, big, sexy, amazing community.

5. Think community-based solutions are complicated? Well, stop throwing stones for a day and see how it feels. You know, whether literal or otherwise, it hurts when you get hit with stones.

So there it is. And the next time you're thinking about throwing a stone, try building something instead. Because, really, that's what stones are for.

Thanks. Now go out there and have some fun!


*not pieces of jewelry, but real data findings...just in case you were curious.
**there is an exception to his policy (basically, if you are trapped in a glass house, it's okay to throw stones, which is really funny and you should totally check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ORJ_P9waao&feature=related.


godfrey said...

Thanks for this thoughtful piece, John. Thanks also for reminding me to enjoy Demetri's work. His rock paper scissor skit is hilarious too. Building community through laughter is probably one of the most powerful tools we have.



Michelle Burtnyk said...

Mark Twain once said,

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”

How true! Sharing a good laugh with a friend or colleague is also a great way to build and strengthen relationships (as they say, “laughter is the shortest distance between two people”). It can help to give us perspective or serve as a distraction when confronted with difficult or distressing situations, making them more manageable and less stressful – it’s really difficult to experience laughter and humor while at the same time experiencing sadness, anger, or anxiety!

There's even a 'National Association for the Humor Impairel (http://www.drhumor.com/), which gives info on the healing power of humor and how to incorporate humor in your workplace.