Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spiritual Identity III: A Sense of Humor & Ole Miss

Briggs taught me about "Chucky Mullins" an All-American
Ole Miss football player. He is known for the devastating
 football injury that left him a quadriplegic.
It can be tremendously difficult to be objective about something or someone we are very close to. I think it's important that we recognize and own the biases that we each carry. However, surrendering our subjectivity can prove challenging. I've always thought one thing that helps in the process is being able to laugh at ourselves.

I don't know if this is a lost art, but it's a rare creature who has the ability to find the humor in his or her humanity. When you find this person, keep close to them. They can be great teachers. You'll also notice, more likely than not, they won't be too full of themselves. My maternal Grandmother had this great gift. I can still see the twinkle in her Irish eyes as she called out her own foibles and shortcomings. She was so easy to love. 

And this past semester, I discovered one of my students held this same virtue. In his presentation on Spiritual Identity, he felt compelled to share with his classmates one of his great passions: being an Ole Miss Football Fan. As if it weren't interesting enough to find a Rebels fan growing up in San Francisco, what he had to say about it resonated with me as a Notre Dame fan and it made me laugh.

It means:

       Irrational anger at many irrelevant events during the course of a game
       Wishing you were less loyal
       Refusal to eat corndogs or be within 100 feet of a cowbell
       Having absurd expectations despite knowing the inevitable misery the season will bring
       Falling back on, “If your team was in the SEC you’d lose a lot too!”
       Almost cult-like admiration for a head coach for 3 years
       After 3 years blaming all failures on said coach and demanding he be fired
      Only having a good quarterback every 30 years
The pride of Oxford, MS, American novelist
William Faulkner

This student encouraged me to look at what I love through another lens. I think it's important to name objective and subjective elements of our experiences, ideas and passions. It's worth sharing the qualities we respect, admire and appreciate and those that well, we need to own, those we ought to reconsider, those which confirm we are indeed human. When we do both, it's easy to see that the truth and the humor is someone in the middle. 

High school students have no problems laughing at one another. But I try to let them know it's good to laugh at themselves. In order to do that, I've worked on it myself. Maybe something more of us could do in the new year...!

Photo Credits
Chucky Mullins

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