It's not about the humour.....

Having just retreated from a social media debate about the above video Bev and I sat and licked our wounds as we talked about the difference in the way it seemed that most people has reacted.

The clip is called 'It's not about the nail' and can be found here:

The discussions go something like this:

Person A on Facebook 'This clip is soooo funny'

Various friends of person A 'Lol' or other approving comments.

Bev or I 'this undermines women'

Everyone else 'you need to get a sense of humour'

Bev and I 'ouch'

So what is going on here. Are we right in wanting to point out what seems blatantly obvious. Are 'they' right suggesting that it a just a bit of fun and that our sense of humour is deficient.

Firstly, the video is written and filmed in a humorous way and it does reflect the type of conversations men and women might find themselves in:

Woman: there is a problem

Man: let me fix it

Woman: you never listen

Man: I know but I can see what needs fixing

Woman: it's not about the nail

Audience: LOL

Now let me explain what Bev and I saw immediately as we watched the video clip (we watched it independently)

Firstly, the 'nail' or woman's problem is so blindingly obvious that anyone, including other women, could see it. What the woman needs to do is stop talking and let the man take the nail out.

Secondly, if the piece was merely about the different ways that women and men view things then it would not have been just a nail. A nail is not an issue of perspective. In this video the man is seeing the obvious, and true issue, the woman is ignoring this and blaming the man's need to fix things.

Granted, my two observations are not as funny as the video so in one sense I can see how our interlocutors would view us as having no sense of humour.

The problem for Bev and I is that the video IS about the 'nail' but the problem that it highlights is NOT about the humour.

I would simply leave you with these two thoughts.

Men: if this video massaged your feelings of being hard done to when in conversations with your partner then pause for a minute. Did you want to turn to her and say 'see! This is what I have been saying. Pause and reflect. Is the problem she speaks about as obvious as a nail in the head?

Women: if the video made you laugh because it reflected the kind of arguments you have with your partner then pause for a minute. Consider the next time you argue that your husband might simply say 'let me take out the nail'. Will it feel funny then?

The Queen thinks the whole world smells of magnolia paint....

When living in Norfolk several years ago I happened to be completing a speaking engagement on an RAF base not far from our home. It was about a week before Queen Elizabeth was due to visit to inspect the camp.

I was given access to one of the married quarters that would be used to show the Queen how this section of her loyal servants lived. The room had been given somewhat of a makeover in order to create a good impression; new carpets, freshly laid lawn (borrowed from a local cricket pitch), a chandelier in the lounge, and a toilet that had been soundproofed just in case HRH needed to spend a royal penny. In addition the whole house had been repainted.

This taste of unreality is what the Queen experiences everywhere she goes. Each of numerous hospital wards, charity buildings, factories, and other assorted venues will have been freshly painted just prior to her visit. Hence the phrase 'The Queen thinks the whole world smells of magnolia paint'. Magnolia being the standard cover-all colour of choice by builders and decorators up and down the United Kingdom.

It is not directly the queens fault of course. She cannot truly know what she doesn't know. In a similar way each of us 'smells' or views the world in our own unique way and we don't completely know how other people perceive things.

So it is with issues of race, gender, and sexuality; we can do our best to empathise but we can only know in part. This is additionally complicated by the fact that some of us occupy positions of privilege. I, as a white, western, heterosexual, male, walk around a freshly painted world compared to the world experienced by those who do not fit into these categories.

Now there is understandably nothing I can do about these categories; without wanting to turn this into a musical 'I am what I am'. It does, however, present me with both a challenge and a responsibility.

Firstly, the challenge is for me to acknowledge the privilege that is delivered to me often without my knowledge; to acknowledge the presence of the magnolia paint and to recognise that this is not the reality for others who are not offered such a privilege.

Secondly, I have a responsibility to both listen to those who do not have the advantage of privilege and to become part of movement of change.

When I come to engage with issues of race I must first acknowledge my position of privilege in that I live in a society that is weighted in the favour of a white person. The popular press would like to present a different picture when dealing with issue such as immigration but I know that my path is eased by the colour of my skin.

Similarly when tackling issues of gender I can never fully know how it feels for a woman to deal with systemic gender bias.

Likewise when addressing issues of sexuality I am also privileged. I have been struck by some of the arguments raised against the proposed inclusion of homosexual marriage that seem to suggest those with a more traditional view are being victimised. It is my view that this stems from a lack of appreciation for the privilege position of being heterosexual in our society. We can never know what it is to face the kind of rejection and negative treatment experienced by our gay friends and family.

In first century Palestine it was thought shocking connect with Gentiles, Romans, Prostitutes, the sick,and Tax Collectors yet these are the kinds of people that Jesus related to even at the risk of being condemned himself. In doing so he showed us that no earthly constructed privilege hierarchy could truly define the value of human beings. He came to show us that all are equal and all are equally loved by God.

At the beginning of his major sermon highlighting just how things were meant to be in a kingdom where God was in charge he declared that the poor in spirit were to be known as blessed. The ptochoi pneuma (spiritually breathless) where to be makarios (free and unfettered).

Challenging the place of privilege, even in ourselves, is turning the system upside down so that inequality is shown for the evil that it is. Challenging the place of privilege is declaring that in God's kingdom the first shall be last and the last shall be first, even if it costs us to do so; perhaps even if it makes us look Christ-like and costs us our lives.

So here I am a white, western, heterosexual, male and I admit that the world smells of fresh magnolia paint in a way that is not true for others and I am committed to becoming part of the answer.