It doesn't matter if you're left or right
The other day I realized that the biggest factor in whether or not I can be friends with someone isn’t political persuasion, social leanings, religious involvement, hobbies, ethnicity or age. It’s whether or not they can laugh at themselves.
I have trouble finding common ground with serious feminists and dour libertarians, but I have equal, if not more trouble with stern Church members who equate somberness with spirituality and think that I am far too light-minded for my own good and need to tone it down.
I am someone who has a very hard time approaching life with seriousness. I laugh at people. I laugh at organizations. I laugh at events. In fact, the more seriously a person or organization takes itself, the more I want to poke fun at it. (This has led to some problems with law enforcement/security types, who tend to take themselves very seriously.) And the closer I am to someone, the more likely I am to tease them.
Of course, the fact that I tease those whom I care about the most makes being my friend a perilous situation. You’ll have to ask Melyngoch about the time I emailed her a picture of a manatee with a note to the effect that even though she’s really fat (like unto a manatee), I’m still glad we’re friends. (In my defense, there’s a back story that makes it not quite so randomly mean. And she loved the picture and wanted to enlarge it to poster size.)
My saving grace, I suppose, is that I laugh at myself more than anyone, and I expect those whom I tease to tease me back with equal vigor. And with equal venom. (Which is to say, none. Teasing someone in a way that isn’t actually mean and helps them laugh at their problems is a difficult art to master. Better to leave off if you can’t get it right.)
A perceptive friend of mine once said: “I have to laugh, because if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.” That probably sums up my approach to life better than anything. Life is hard, and I don’t feel like crying all the time, so I’d rather laugh through my tears, and laugh the most at the hardest things in life and with those I care most about, whose pain I am most likely to share.
“We’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing near you.”