Knee-Jerk Actions – Micro-Aggression or Humor: A Choice!

Exclamation MarkLet me be clear, upfront, and personal; I am not here to tell you what to think, how to think when to think, or where to think.  I will not force my opinions and ideas upon you as the global corporate media does.  I will offer ideas and suggestions and how you proceed is your affair.  Your choices will determine your destiny.  I aim to aid you in understanding and viewing the world a little differently to improve your destination.

Action vs. Reaction

Action encapsulates intention, producing accomplishment from organized activity; action is a process of thinking, acting, and becoming.  Only in physics should we ever consider every action having an equal and opposite reaction.  Why; because for humans, any reaction gives control to someone else and removes intentional controls.  A reaction is all about response to stimulus, no thinking, no changing, no intent, no organized activity, and no recovery until we, the human agent, retake control of our action.Paradox

Easy example, consider the toddler throwing a fit.  The toddler is trying to obtain a reaction from the parents favorable to that toddler’s individual desires at that moment.  However, any good parent will not respond to the toddler’s demands and usually provide behavior correction to enforce the thought that the toddler cannot make demands.  To regain control over the stimulus provided, the toddler must correct behavior or will not gain control over the future individual actions without additional parental intervention, an undesirable activity.  Thus, early on, the toddler will realize actions do not bring reactions but decisive action by parental figures, which is generally not the desired outcome.

Action versus reaction is an essential principle with foundations in moral agency, individual agency, and long-term consequences.  However, if the parent reacts to every toddler fit, the toddler gains power over the parental figure, which is an undesirable activity for the parent.  Action versus reaction is not splitting philosophical hairs or linguistic nuance; action is an intention-producing accomplishment; the reaction is an intentionless activity where self-control has been given to others.Calvin & Hobbes - Irony Hurts

Victor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and Robert Solomon, author of “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice,” both speak to this action versus reaction principle in a manner easily grasped.  We, as individuals, might not be able to control our every environment nor control the activities of others upon us, but we can control our actions in response.  Retaining control of self, improving who and what we are, and keeping the power of intentional activity.

Knee-Jerk Reactions

The ‘knee-jerk response’ is any reaction that is done automatically, without thought.  The knee-jerk reflex is what’s known as a mono-synaptic response. The impulse only has to jump from one nerve to another once.  Thus, the medical definition for a social activity, a knee-jerk reaction, requires no cognitive thinking, no intention and is the worst form of response to the intentional stimulus of others.

Bait & Switch 2For example, Speaker Pelosi tore up President Trump’s State of the Union speech record on live, national TV as a knee-jerk response to the sitting US President.  Of all the US President’s Speaker Pelosi has experienced, her behavior to President Trump was the most toddler-like, and people quickly excused this behavior as “Trump-Derangement Syndrome (TDS).”  Thus, we can drop the “knee” in knee-jerk responses and describe the activity aptly as being a jerk.  No thought, not intentional activity (even though the action has intention, the brain does not register cognitive effort), and the reaction to the stimulus is mono-synaptic.

Micro-Aggression and Macro-Aggression

Micro-aggression, according to Webster, is “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).”  What is missing in this definition; individual perspective.  Micro-aggression is a personal choice to take offense at “a comment or action that” is judged to be “subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally” expressing what is considered by person one to be “a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).”

Social Justice WarriorMacro-aggression is the complete opposite and are “obvious, intentional, above-board insults, where there is no chance of a mistake on the part of the transgressor to be provoking, insulting, or otherwise discourteous.”  But, again, the definition does not include the fact that the person claiming another person’s activities are macro-aggressive is a personal choice, a judgment, and a socially powered decision.

Social Justice Warrior 2Micro- and macro-aggression are often claimed to be “triggered” by specific words, colors, foods, waters, fruits, and a host of other items.  Essentially using fear and envy to demand people act differently or the consequences are toddler-like fits and fussing, picketing, rioting, looting, e.g., acting like a terrorist.  Thus, micro- and macro- aggression is nothing but the toddler throwing a temper tantrum because they are not getting what they want at that moment.  While claiming their aggression is on behalf of someone else, and their acts of terrorism are excusable because the aggression was triggered by someone or something else.  This is like the eight-year-old older brother or sister throwing a fit that the toddler was punished and claiming they are behaving irrationally in support of the toddler’s tantrum.  How many parents will buy this logic; I do not!


cropped-laughing-owlLove them or hate them, comedians have changed since I was a kid sneaking peaks of comic relief on cable while washing dishes late into the night.  Comedians now carefully pick their materials based upon their perceptions of the audience.  Thus, we have classes of comedians, including “Shock Comedians,” who try to be as offensive as possible and still get laughs.  We have political comedians; some come down equally on both sides of the political aisle, others are as cemented to a political agenda as they can be and use their “comedy” as a tool to influence their audiences towards that political agenda.  We have a host of comedians dedicated to helping people laugh and others who see themselves as able to influence, regardless of consequences.

I am not providing marketing to any comedian by giving examples of the statements made above.  You can certainly use a search engine to find these examples for yourself if interested.  You might even be able to think of several instances from history, especially recent history, that fit into the descriptions provided.  As I said in the beginning, you remain empowered to think as you prefer.

Bobblehead DollMy point is that humor, like every other emotion, can be a tool to build or a tool to destroy, and the choice of build or destroy rests in the user, but the consequences rest in the hands of the audience.  Consider this for a moment, how fast would a “Shock” comedian change their tune if the swearing, foul and degrading language, and behaviors manifested on stage did not get a single laugh, or worse, resulted in people standing up and walking out?  Some would change quickly, others it might take a little more pushing, but the result would be the same, a changed comedian.  Why; because capitalism works!

The comedian is the greatest example of capitalism at work in the world.  People will pay money for entertainment, but if the entertainer insults, denigrates, and derides, that entertainer is history and is told to find a different line of work through capitalism.  The pattern of comedians can be witnessed and applied across the spectrum from politicians to judges, from businesses to non-profits, all because capitalism works.


Why this article; why now?  On Monday this week, I received an email talking about micro-aggression.  The author used greeting cards and their sayings as representations of trigger events for micro-aggression.  We have the US President (Fraudulent or Not) being hostile and aggressive towards unvaccinated people.  But unvaccinated people are not spreading the Delta-Variant COVID virus; vaccinated people are.  We have social unrest in Cuba, where nobody is taking notice because for too long, the social elite has said that Cuba, as a Marxist-Leninist country, is a good thing and cannot stand watching their lies become evident.

Knowledge Check!Like the disc-jockey’s of my youth said, “And the Hits just keep on coming!”  Pick a spot on the globe, and you will find problems, issues, and concerns driven by micro- and macro-aggressive people who refuse to understand the difference between action and reaction—leaving this article as an attempt to aid in making better decisions.  How you choose to respond to the day’s events informs the political leaders and social influencers if they are winning or losing.  Thus, choose better, knowing that the social influencers and political leaders want you to react, not act!  Hence, choose to act.  Choose to use your moral agency and individual agency as a tool to intentionally choose your following action in the process of becoming who you want to be and not what others want you to be for their selfish gain.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Revisiting A Powerful Tool – Humor

GarnerCamden, Maine, I am wandering through a bookstore and randomly select a book, “Politically Correct Bedtime Stories,” authored by James Finn Gardner.  I laughed so hard; people chose to become offended.  From 1995 to the present, I have read and re-read these books, and they just get funnier!  Yes; I own all of Gardner’s books on being politically correct and read them often for a good chuckle!

I was visiting Camp Red Cloud, Uijeongbu, South Korea.  I stopped at the Post Exchange (PX) just looking and tripped across Robert Fulghum’s book, “It Was on Fire When I laid Down on it.”  I had never heard of this author, but after reading about the birdbath fire, the hose, and the burning mattress, I was hooked!  Another author who delights in telling stories that make me laugh.  If you have never read his books, make some time to read, then you too can enjoy the ultimate “Mother of the Bride” and the “Naked Lady and the Gorilla” stories.  Don’t mind me; I am laughing at the memories.

LinkletterHere I am, a person without memory for names, but I can tell you the details of these events like they happened yesterday.  Heck, just thinking about that bookstore in Camden, Maine, brings back the smell of the bookstore, the wood fire stove heating the place, and the person who suggested I visit that particular store.  Thus, the power of humor and the adventure of a good book.

When my wife and I first married, I read to her the Robert Fulghum books I had collected, we spent several evenings laughing merrily, and those memories I cherish!  I laughed so hard when I discovered that my wife could not understand the humor of politically correct bedtime stories.  Still, I rejoiced mightily when she discovered how funny Robert Fulghum was to her.  The best part of the Robert Fulghum books is how you can read them with a Hudson Bay mindset and enjoy them in small pieces or large equally.

I was traveling from Federal Way to downtown Seattle by bus and needed a book.  I grabbed my wife’s copy of Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things!”  I laughed all the way to my job interview.  I discussed the book on the bus ride all the way back to Federal Way.  Great bus ride!  I have no idea who I sat beside, but we had a great conversation about books, kids, life, and humor.  “My Dad is a Stupidvisor!”

Why is humor so powerful?

Sword and ShieldHelmy and Frerichs (2013) pointed out the first and most significant role of humor “both as a sword and a shield.”  The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 was some dark days in the Middle East, but the terror of a revolution was significantly reduced through the use of humor, and “Egyptians laughed themselves into a democracy.”  Quoting Orwell (1945), Helmy and Frerichs (2013) related, “Every joke is a tiny revolution,” “humor is at its best when it is upsetting the established order.”  “Whatever …. brings down the mighty from their seats, preferably with a bump, is funny!”

Helmy and Frerichs (2013) add another aspect to humor, the paradox between playfulness and seriousness.  Consider this for a moment, how often has the environment been serious, but you have felt a desire to laugh.  I had this occur at a funeral for a dear friend; her grandson was being a typical boy and did something right in the middle of the funeral.  I laughed.  Totally not appreciated by the family and friends gathered, but it was funny.  My first command and staff meeting in the US Army, serious business, lots of high-ranking officers, lots of junior officers practicing seriousness, something was said, I laughed.  Few others followed, but the rest of the crowd’s disgusted looks soon stifled the humor out of the situation.  I learned a valuable lesson that day, when serious, be sure to laugh!

WWGDThus, bringing Smith (2009) into the mix of humor and seriousness by understanding the audience’s role in humor.  Smith (2009) writes about the Danish Cartoon debacle from January and February 2006, calling this event a grim series of events that proves humor is not a trivial matter.  Hello, the audience, for the most part, found the cartoons funny, and the only thing shown by those events in 2006 is that humor is also a choice.  Choose to be offended, and you can justify your offense by acting like a rube.  It happens daily when people choose offense, and then they start acting like a tantrum-throwing child in the grocery store cereal or candy aisle!

Yes; the audience does play a role in the humor level, but choosing to take offense is not allowed.  There are comedians out there who say outrageous stuff; I decide not to listen to them due to their vulgarity, which is okay with the vulgar comedian and me.  I am not the targeted audience for indecency in comedians and have even given some thumbs down to favorite comedians who have used vulgarity.  But, I do not go out and throw a tantrum just because I chose to be offended.

Why discuss these aspects of humor?

Semper GumbyHelmy and Frerichs (2013) explained best why these aspects of humor are important, “humor is both a sword and a shield.”  Political cartoons are one of the highest forms of humor, representing both a sword and a shield.  I have seen political cartoons cover the entire spectrum of human efforts and find them priceless examples of how to protect (shield) and attack (sword) the cartoons’ subjects.  For instance, I saw an “Iraqi SCUD Missile Launcher” political cartoon that has kept me chuckling for years.  The camel in that cartoon has the absolute best face.  In the US Army, a picture hung above my desk of a loon trying to swallow a frog, captioned,  “Never Give Up!”  A humorous reminder to me while working in my job at the time.

I currently have a picture of Gumby with the caption, “Semper Gumby” (Always Flexible), another humorous reminder of what I want in my mind and life.  When the WWJD wristbands came out, a friend spoofed them with WWGD (What Would Gumby Do?), and I laughed and laughed.  The sword and shield of humor are essential to personal health, group cohesion, team building, and much more, all because of what humor does in our brains.

Never Give Up!Watson, Matthews, and Allman (2007) remind us that humor relieves stress, facilitates social bonding, acting as an intrinsic reward, and powerfully activates significant portions of the brain, helping humans navigate complex social environments.  Chemicals are released in the brain when we laugh that mellows moods, opens possibilities for problem-solving, and generates goodwill.  As a nerd, I find the fMRI imaging used in Watson, et al’s. (2007) research fascinating.

In a “Liberty FIRST Culture,” laughter is both anticipated and acceptable.  Laugh!  Enjoy the humor in situations, for I can tell you a well-known truth, humans are funny!  Watching humans interact is hilarious.  Want to blow a cashier’s mind when they ask, “How are you?” tell them, “Breathing.”  Then stand and watch their face.  Hilarious!

Leap DayI was behind a person in line; with my sense of humor, the cashier asked, “How are you?” The gentleman said he was “pooping square turds.”  I laughed!  I still laugh.  What a line!  But, the cashier’s face was indescribably funny!  The gentleman paid for his groceries and left, as the next customer, the cashier, was still off her mojo during our transaction.  I was there for her next customer and witnessed the cashier still was off her mojo for that customer.  I have no idea what that cashier thought about this transaction, but I found it an incredibly great break from the ordinary.

ResilienceLaughter is good!  Use it, know it, and practice it.  The best tool in the world is to make someone else laugh.

Non Sequitur - Carpe DiemReferences

Helmy, M. M., & Frerichs, S. (2013). Stripping the boss: The powerful role of humor in the Egyptian Revolution 2011. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 47(4), 450-481.

Smith, M. (2009). Humor, unlaughter, and boundary maintenance. Journal of American Folklore, 148-171.

Watson, K. K., Matthews, B. J., & Allman, J. M. (2007). Brain activation during sight gags and language-dependent humor. Cerebral cortex, 17(2), 314-324.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.