Every now and again along comes someone who rocks your world. They make you laugh, while telling stories that shine the light on truth. Genius.
In this case, a young man, who I rather wish was my son.
When Donald Trump became President, I was bemused by the strength of my response. After all, he was not the ruler of my land – a point frequently made by my American friends.
None the less, he stood upon the world stage representing way too much that is unpardonable in a person. Unkind, uncouth, untruthful.
For some months, I shared everything I could that validated this opinion, and was upheld by watching and listening to the him. I wasn’t able to give him a chance as many suggested would be fair at the time.
Then came along the young man I’d like as a son, Trevor Noah.
Recently I watched him interviewed by Senator Cory Brooker, about his book, Born a Criminal.
Senator Brooker asked, how do you continue to make jokes at a time of all this bad news?
Trevor replied, ‘You must never let them take (your humour) away from you. You can’t stop me from laughing. It doesn’t mean the pain is not real, but laughter is the anesthesia of the mind.’
The Senator said, ‘but you do more than that’. Trevor went on to explain that that is what comedy does, it exposes the truth.
I thought about that for a while. What is comedy or what makes me laugh? Isn’t it a collection of truthful, often personal stories and anecdotes, delivered with all the humour of reality?
Then Trevor quoted from Dick Gregory, ‘Look for the truth, because the truth is funnier than anything you can imagine,’ and said ‘that is what I am trying to do, that is what we should be all trying to do, we should expose them.
‘Keep shining the light on them. That light shames them. Keep on using it, because often times that is all you have.’
What matters about this story?
After a while I became shy of my posting. Was I just proselytizing? Who was I anyway, here in Australia, to rabbit on about Donald Trump?
In the interview, Trevor was asked what advice he might give to the young people of America today for an ailing society.
He answered, ‘a wise man said, don’t let this become a situation where you become paralysed by the feeling that you can do nothing. There are many things you can do, there are many stands you can take.
‘Look to the situations where you can become the change you want to see. Look to the small things. We look at the biggest change that needs to be made and we realise that it is impossible, so we do nothing.
‘If everyone is helping just one person, we are all doing a little and that is how you create a lot.’
He credited Senator Brooker as that wise man. Wise indeed.
It’s an empowering sentiment. What it made me think, is that we need to keep telling stories.
Stories give us the means to do something, to shine the light on truth, to take a stand, to become the change we want to see, to look to the small things and to help where we can.
Trevor Noah is doing a great job of telling us stories that make us review, and reflect more deeply on racism, misogyny, corruption and human stupidity, all the while making us laugh.
In doing so, he helps us come to terms with the human condition and feel better equipped to deal with it as best we can, and where we can by making a difference for others.