I’ve been trying to figure out, without the help of books or an education, whether humour is as innate to human beings as suffering. This was prompted by a tweet I received from Lawrence Donegan who criticised my tweet last night where I joked about how I only allow women into my house if they’re wearing no clothes at all. I considered responding on Twitter but 240 characters obviously isn’t enough when it comes to the topic of suffering and humour.
It seems to me that as we still have humour, it clearly has utility, else why would it exist? It might be a social construct, but I doubt that. I’m inclined to believe humour has evolved alongside us for millennia, in spite of enormous suffering and pain. In fact, there is less suffering and pain in the world now than ever before, and it would seem, if Lawrence is anything to go by, that humour is also on the decline. Maybe the supply of jokes correspond with the amount of suffering in our own worlds? The more we suffer, the more we joke. Empirically speaking, and of course relatively speaking, any suffering I’ve ever experienced has often been followed by humour. It relieves pain.
The problem with taking a moral approach to us golfers playing in Saudi Arabia this week is that it would lay bare many contradictions of the past. Like, for example, why do we play in China? Or Qatar? Or Turkey? Depending on your time scale, you could argue that every country on earth has at some point exemplified the worst that human beings have to offer, but back to 2019. It clearly is true that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is questionable at best, and appalling to anyone in the West. But should that mean we boycott competing?
That probably depends who you are. I can really only speak for myself, and plus, remember I’m not being paid to be here, so I’m only slightly less immoral than the top guys who have showed up. For me, if I didn’t play, I sacrifice the opportunity to play against the best in the world, I miss a chance to improve my world ranking also, which objectively speaking, does hold some importance for me, since if I fall out of the Top 50 before April then I won’t be eligible for a PGA Tour event I have scheduled to play. And that means losing flights etc and having to pay for new ones, which you might say is no problem because I’ve earned a lot of money lately, though resentment isn’t good for anybody.
This week throws up a not new conundrum for us then; that competition supersedes morality. If I don’t show up, the field doesn’t reduce a spot, somebody takes it. With over 7 Billion people in the world, our futures might give us all an opportunity to choose between morality and survival. This isn’t to say morality isn’t important and should never be acted upon, but it is to say that there’s a reality to the world that while we might all dislike, still exists.
On top of all of this, maybe, just maybe, the Regime out here really do want to change. Maybe they’ve recognised the perilous state of their own affairs and in particular their reliance on a fossil fuel that won’t be here forever. It might be true that they want to Liberalise their Kingdom so that they can be competitive themselves in the future. Why should we Westerners not accept this, if it is true? After all, aren’t we the true purveyors of forgiveness?