Tolerance training in the age of zero tolerance.

A Muslim, a Catholic, an African American, a Jewish person, a Hispanic, a Wasp, a native American, a lesbian, an old woman, a gender-neutral person, a Chinese communist, a Russian oligarch, an Iranian mullah, a red state Republican and an Upper West Side Democrat walk into a bar…*

First of all, have you smiled? Or are you already getting your back up at the possibility that someone could be made fun of as this story unfolds? This is a litmus test to your future well-being. Can you survive in the cancel culture without cancelling yourself out?

Let’s start with the facts. Humans are the nuttiest creatures on the planet, and our ability to be “triggered” has become so sensitized that each of us now needs a personal injury lawyer just to leave our homes in the morning.  Our big brains and thin skins leave lots of time to parse language, self-select into special interest groups, and worry ourselves over slights both real and perceived. Each person would prefer it if other people agreed with their opinions. Naturally, each person would also like the freedom to render judgment on those who don’t.

Meanwhile, tribal hostility has been going on since homo sapiens first noticed differences in their appearance (“Hey, you’re not wearing the same bearskin as me. I’ll feel safer if I make fun of your outfit!”) and will no doubt continue despite corporate offices hanging up “Zero Tolerance” banners. Because humans love conflict, and deep down they love feeling superior to other humans, even when that superiority is based on how “caring” or “woke” they are!

If all the wars of history (current skirmishes included) were not proof enough of this idea, we salivate over professional sports, rooting for the home team to “kill” the opposition and raise the championship flag over our particular city of “winners.”

Meanwhile, the media and industry have been harnessing trigger words for years to gain audience share and exploit our interest in being wise vs. being gullible. We like being triggered when it’s “easy” or “secret” or “free.”  We go the other way when it’s “complicated” or “difficult” or “overpriced.”

SuperOptimists understand that people are different, and that these differences should be respected and celebrated. We also know that being overly sensitive is not an enjoyable way to go through life, as you become predictable and boring and whiny and nobody really wants to hang around you (except for other overly-sensitive people).

What’s the best solution? Pure, unadulterated laughter at the absurdity of it all, especially a good laugh at ourselves. We’re all fallible creatures, after all. Laughter is a tonic for all colors of skin, sexual preferences, religious convictions, or gender reclassifications. Laughter is one of the core emotional expressions of joy. Who has ever wanted to turn away more spiritual joy – besides ruthless dictators and antagonists in Charles Dickens’ novels, that is.

So if you think you’re special because you’re a “woke white,” go fuck yourself! And if you think you’re special because you’re multi-ethnic, or a member of a fringe group, or call yourself “they” instead of “he” or “she”,  go fuck yourself! As for us, writing this post with the superior attitude of know-it-alls, we’ll go fuck ourselves too!

See? Now we’ve all got something in common!

*As for the joke that started this column, the fact that there is no ending is what’s funny about it.  To us, anyway.