Friday, September 11, 2009

Somehow Finding Humor in the Wreckage

Eight years ago, I sat on my couch as I got ready for work and turned on the television. I flipped it on to the Today Show just in time to see the second plane fly into the World Trade Center as Katie Couric tried to explain how a plane had just hit the towers moments before.

For a split second, I thought they were showing a replay of some video they happened to get of the original plane crash, but it became obvious very quickly that I and millions of other viewers had just watched hundreds of peoples' lives end in real time.

The day got worse as a plane crashed into the Pentagon, both towers and a couple other buildings in the WTC complex collapsed, and another plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania instead of its intended target.

When the first tower fell, people were pulling over to the side of the road and just staring at their radios in disbelief. People started checking the skies for airplanes and wondering if anywhere was safe. The entire country was gripped by shock and fear, and you wondered if anything would ever seem funny again.

Then, two weeks later, The Onion published the Holy F---ing Shit!: Attack on America issue that just nailed every aspect of the events in a humorous and surprisingly empathetic tone. With articles like, Not Knowing What Else To Do, Woman Bakes American-Flag Cake, Point/Counterpoint: We Must Retaliate With Blind Rage vs. We Must Retaliate With Measured, Focused Rage, and Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell, The Onion managed to capture the shock, the fear, and the anger of the nation and somehow, someway the laughter we all needed.

The entire issue is worth reading, but my favorite is still the article entitled, God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule.
"I don't care what faith you are, everybody's been making this same mistake since the dawn of time," God said. "The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don't even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, 'Turn the other cheek,' but you've been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades."

Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: "Can't you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism... every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you're supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It's not that hard a concept to grasp."

"Why would you think I'd want anything else? Humans don't need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you've been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!" God said. "The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?"

"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore—ever! I'm f---ing serious!"

Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God's shoulders began to shake, and He wept.

I don't know how anyone could find the funny so soon after the attacks without being unfeeling, but there it is. Eight years later, it remains one of my favorite humor pieces ever written.


Ann-Marie said...

Thanks for sharing this, Tim. I'd never read it before.

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