The gravity of laughter

21 years ago, after the exchange of vows and sundry formalities, my new husband turned to me and said, “Now you’re in trouble.”

1 year and 1 day later, when a friend called out “Lin, don’t hurt yourself!” and I laughingly asked why not, my husband said “Because you’re out of the warranty period.”

Some years before the wedding, when a friend commented that my beloved was looking deeply into my eyes, he remarked “Just making sure somebody’s home.”

9 years after the wedding, pregnant with our first child, morning sickness struck with a startling vengeance. As I staggered out of the bathroom feeling immeasurably shocked, my husband asked “Would you like your toast now, or shall I flush it straight down the loo?”

Some of this may sound, from the outside, like mockery, but from the inside it is clearly profound affection. He makes me laugh on the darkest days, in the worst of times. His humour is my safe and protected route to coping with pain, fear, and suffering.

Last night we celebrated 21 years of married laughter with a trip to the comedy festival. I’ve been trying to rest lately and I’ve spent a lot of that resting time watching The Last Leg on iview, or watching Adam Hills videos on youtube, so we took the chance to see him live.

Comedy is often mean. It raises a laugh by base and unkind means. But Adam Hills has no truck with any of that. Adam mocks death, disability, and politics with fierce and hilarious insight. He bonds with his audience and draws us in to a shared circle of hilarious defiance. He laughs in the face of cancer, grief, and the Herald Sun.

And with every brilliant quip he places compassion and empathy on a breathtaking pedestal, making us think about racism, politics, and snap judgements. Making us care and yearn to be better, sillier people. Making us laugh, and making us happy. I can’t imagine Adam has ever been a mean, aggressive comedian. It’s hard to feel threatened by a man in a dressing gown holding a bright pink bucket. He is one of nature’s sparkly people.

I won’t share any of his jokes, because they are his to bestow, but if you ever get the chance, go see him. He’s a beacon of kindness and laughter in an often sad and demoralising world.

Doing your bit

There’s a lot of noise in the media about tax avoidance.  We’re getting upset about corporate tax dodges. We’re tired of the rich not paying tax. Some even say that this is bad news for a government more interested in cutting health, education, and welfare than in holding the rich to account.

But the truth is that ordinary people complain about tax all the time. It’s very tempting to find every possible legal and dodgy way to minimise your own tax. We all want more money in the bank. We all hate the government (well, all of us except perhaps NewsCorp, whose attitude to their own tax is well known), and the thought of giving the government money – our money – is naturally repulsive. Everybody likes a nice fat tax return. We can even rationalise our position by saying that they’ll only spend it on wars and expensive dinners for Tony Abbott anyway.

But here’s the thing. Those taxes we don’t want to pay? They pay for education – yes, even those of you who pay a fortune to send your children to private schools are wildly subsidised by the government (don’t get me started on that one!). They pay for hospitals, doctors, and medical tests. They pay for roads, for police, for ambulances, and for firefighters. They make our very lives possible.

So next time you are thinking about tax, and trying to find ways to minimise your own contribution, ask yourself this: Which schools will you close to reduce your tax? Which patients will you turn away from the Emergency Department? Which roads will you leave unrepaired, and which fires should we choose not to fight? If you’re robbed, will you choose not to call the police, because you would rather pay less tax? If you’re sick, will you choose not to go to the doctor, so that you can use the latest tax dodge instead?

Adam Hills is so right (and so, so funny) when he says we need famous people to say they’re doing their bit and paying their tax.  The Last Leg crew make tax both hilarious and compelling – and who knew that was even possible?? We need more like them. We need everyone to recognise the point of tax. It’s time we realised that taxation is fundamental to our way of life. If you don’t like the way the government spends your taxes, write to them, lobby them, start petitions, run for politics yourself! This is a democracy, and we can all have a voice. But above all, do your bit. Pay your tax.

Easing the sadness

There is so much sadness in the world. A quick scan of a newspaper shows children missing, parents dying, families torn apart. Aching, devastating sadness everywhere you look. Everyone knows someone who is suffering right now. Cancer. Pain. Grief. They’re everywhere.

When I die I want to be able to say: “I made the world a better place. I left it better than I found it. I helped people.” And we, as a nation, have an outstanding opportunity to do just that. To alleviate a little of the sadness in the world. To stretch out our hands, and our hearts, in welcome to people who have already suffered more than we can conceivably imagine. More than we will ever have to experience.

We have the opportunity to create a safe space. To be a warm and welcoming haven. To start the healing process, and to show the world that there are still compassionate, empathic people and places. To be the kind of country that makes the world a little better.

Instead we torture. In the name of a knowing and malicious lie we call “stopping the boats,” we torture men. We torture women. We torture children. We deny them basic human rights. We falsely label them illegals, and we dehumanise them at every turn. We deny them everything, including sympathy.

We have the opportunity to help people. Instead we choose to torture them. Knowingly. Deliberately. Our politicians in both major parties still believe that this sick, sadistic manipulation of our most vulnerable and traumatised human beings will win them votes.

There. Is. No. Excuse.

There can be no explanation.

It must stop.

Call and write to every MP and Senator. Write to newspapers. Tell your friends. Sign every petition. Let’s shake the very heavens with our outrage, and our compassion. Let’s make it political suicide to be cruel to refugees. How hard could it be??