Be Playful

Posts Tagged ‘smiles

‘There is an unnecessary gap in today’s world between the world-changers and the life-celebrators.’
~ Harvey Cox

smiling-clown
Photo by Bahman.

If you asked people what they would like to achieve in life, what they see as their ultimate purpose, I think most people would say making the world a better place.

The best advice I can give to making the world a better place is to become a clown. Clowns make the best world-changers, and here are the reasons.

Clowns embody the change they wish to see.

clowns-with-children
Photo by esacarola.

One of Gandhi‘s most famous lines is:

‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’

Clowns are fun-loving, they give life a full embrace, they are artistic and musical, unafraid to stretch their limitations, even at the risk of looking silly. This is the kind of person I like to meet, the kind of person I would like the world to be full of.

I don’t know if you’ve ever met an activist. I’ve met a few, and I have a lot of respect for everything they do. Some activists are brilliant, they recognise the need for clowning and fun. However a lot of activists are deadly-serious, seeing the work they do to make the world a better place as the be all and end all. This is dangerous.

It is dangerous because if these activists achieve their goals, then the world they create is likely to be a deadly serious place, a place of efficiency and productivity where wonder and playfulness are frowned upon.

It is also dangerous because these activists tend to be serious because they believe they have the final answer that everyone should agree with. If anyone disagrees with them, then many would see it as acceptable to use violence. A classic and tragic example is ‘communist’ Russia; another equally tragic example is ‘democratic’ Iraq. Is it really possible to bring about a better world using violence and bloodshed?

Clowns are a direct challenge to power

raging-grannies
Photo by Brave New Films.

Powerful people would like to have us believe that the world is a dangerous place, that we should be afraid, that we need looking after. It is important for powerful people to create this feeling, because it means that we become dependent on their power to protect us, further justifying their power. For an example, think war-on-terror, and the extra power that governments have given themselves because of the fear of terrorism.

In having fun, and refusing to live a life of fear, clowns are a direct challenge to power. This is why the FBI identified the nonviolent Carnival Against Capital as a terrorist group. It is also why the protesters against Nuclear Missiles in Greenham Common dressed as teddy bears and held a picnic on a nuclear silo. The message of clowns is clear: we are not afraid, and we will have fun.

empty-warhead
Photo by Chance Gardener.

The humour of clowns is also a direct challenge to power. Many jokes make a mockery of authority figures, subverting the position of power that they assume. Adolf Hitler was so afraid of humour that he banned any jokes about the Nazi Party.

Another great place where political power is challenged in this way is in street carnivals. In the past, carnivals would be the one time when all people would be seen as equal, when the village fool would be made a king. The loss of this event, the unwillingness of people in power to engage in frivolity is no doubt a loss to society.

Clowns aren’t afraid to look silly

clown-on-a-lamp-post
Photo by blmurch.

World-changers often have to say things that are uncomfortable to hear, that go against the status quo. Because of this, they are likely to be mocked and ridiculed in an effort to get them to shut up.

Clowns seek to be mocked and ridiculed, so mockery and ridicule is unlikely to silence them! Clowns have the courage to see the world as it is, and as it should be, and to proclaim aloud the difference between these two.

Clowns bring smiles, joy and laughter to the world

beautiful-smile
Photo by clspeace.

If I think back on the people who have most positively influenced my life it is not the grumpy teachers whose class I had to sit on every week for years on end, nor the bossy supervisors that I have been blessed with in certain workplaces. Rather, it is the joyful strangers who offered me a smile when they could see the despair on my face, the friends who have come alongside me and helped me to envision all that I can be.

I am firm believer in the idea that change begins at home, in the immediate world and community around us. If you can bring joy, laughter, smiles and hope to this community, then I have no doubt that you will have made the world a better place.

Let us go out into the world, and be the change we wish to see.


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