Centuries before the Middle East was discovered to be in the middle and to the east of somewhere else, turmoil had already been part of its way of life. We’re talking thousands of years of fighting. It’s a wonder there are any buildings left intact. Actually, it’s a wonder any buildings were able to be built in the first place. Anyone in or out of Congress who thinks that this culture of aggression and revenge is going to come to an end anytime soon is as out of touch with reality as the Kardashians. No amount of military or “advisory personnel” intervention is going to change that.
I’m not being political here. I’m just saying that it’s going to take more than brute force, sanctions or diplomacy to bring peace to that part of the world. It’s going to take a sense of humor.
Say what they will about the United States, historically war-torn nations are different from us—while we take things seriously, we also have the ability to laugh at ourselves. They don’t. How many Iranian comedians are there? Is there a Syrian Comedy Central?
That, my friends, is a monumental and important difference.
Those who take themselves so seriously are too easily offended. Their hair-trigger reaction to the slightest slight sets them off like a beehive that’s been hit by a rock. They go from zero to 60 in no time flat and thousands of innocent lives can suddenly hang in the balance. Talk about being wound too tightly.
There are, of course, truly threatening remarks made and offensive actions taken, but a sense of humor can help put it all in perspective and weed out the real from the surreal and the obviously stupid. If we acted like many uptight, oppressive countries and splinter groups (of which we have more than our fair share), late night television, The Daily Show and the newly-missed Colbert Report would never have dawned and been so influential. And be right on the mark. We have learned to laugh at ourselves without anybody being killed.
Speaking of uptight, oppressive countries, the North Koreans mistakenly think that since they have successfully “forced” Sony Pictures to pull the comedy film “The Interview” from distribution, that they’ve won the fight. They’re wrong. Sony couldn’t have asked for better publicity. Cynical as I am, I even thought that this was a stunt Sony concocted to drum up business for the film. By making threats to our life, liberty, and pursuit of laughter, I predict that what the North Koreans did will have the exact opposite effect than what was intended. Whether it’s via movie theaters, BitTorrent’s Bundle program, or some other money-making distribution channel, if it’s good, “The Interview” will hit box office platinum.
What the North Koreans don’t realize is that making a big stink about a film, book, TV show, or what have you in America only creates a larger demand for whatever caused the stink in the first place. Take something away and we want it more. Sony’s reaction may be the end of the conversation in North Korea, but here it’s only the beginning. There are plenty of people who might never have heard of or cared about seeing “The Interview” even if it premiered on Christmas day as originally scheduled. Now, thanks to the North Koreans, everybody knows about the film and everybody wants to see it to find out what the hell ticked them off.
Don’t kid yourself. Sony is not going to sit idly by and not take advantage of the mushrooming world-wide audience. As soon as they figure out a way to safely and profitably show the film, they will. Not only am I sure they’re secretly working on deals right now, I’m also sure they’ve already sent Kim Jong Un a thank you note and two tickets to the Hollywood premier.
The one other factor that can help decrease the violence in and from hostile foreign countries is things. Cable, microwaves, nice condos and houses, new cars, wide screen TVs, DVRs, iPhones and iPads, air conditioning, swimming pools, tourism, vacations, rock ‘n roll. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. If you have “stuff,” it’s a whole different ballgame. Husband: “Honey, I’ve got to go fight the Americans. I may or may not come back alive.” Wife: “So you’re going to leave me with the mortgage, the cable bill, the payments for the new Land Rover you wanted and taking care of our six kids? You take one step outside this house and I’ll kill you myself.” In many countries, that’d be a death sentence for any woman to say. Here, in the United States, the more likely response from the husband would be, “Kidding, honey. Just kidding.”
So what’s the takeaway here? Teach our enemies to be self-effacing, and give them lots of stuff. Golf club memberships, trendy clothes, a state-of-the-art electrical grid, and lots of credit card debt. When you’re trying to maintain a lifestyle but have a collection agency on your tail, fighting is something you just don’t have time for.