Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sarcasm and Ether 12:23-37

I have been thinking a lot about sarcasm ever since the class I attended at Education Week.  Brother Himmer compared sarcasm with verbal flogging. When you understand what was involved in flogging, it’s clear to see how seriously wrong it is to use sarcasm as a communication style. But I was reading today in the scriptures and had another realization about sarcasm.

In Ether chapter 12, Moroni is lamenting to the Lord about his fear that the Gentiles will “mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing”. In verse 26 the Lord answers him “saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;”

Sarcasm is basically a form of mocking.  In fact, it’s a backhanded way to mock someone, pretending to be trying to be funny. It is, in reality, “taking advantage of [someone’s] weakness”(verse 26). It is the opposite of charity. In this same chapter, Moroni talks a lot about faith hope and charity. He says in verse 34, “. . . except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father”.

Sarcasm as a communication style in a family is especially hurtful because of the significance the Lord has placed on family relationships. It destroys safety and trust which are two critical elements in meaningful relationships. It tears down self-esteem. The spirit cannot be present when we’re engaged in sarcasm. It leads to cynicism in those who are learning it from us and is an expression of cynicism in those who engage in it. Cynicism is an indication of a lack of faith and hope. Verse 32 says “wherefore a man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared.” It seems that sarcasm is the opposite of faith, hope and charity.