Thursday, April 09, 2015

Finding humor everywhere

I'm a fan of humor. With my writing I try to put in as much of it as I can. I believe you can find something funny about everything (okay, I'm including hysterical laughter in that belief). Believing in humor can take you from crisis to comedy. It's hard to fight laughter. You can do it, but you only end up looking ridiculous. I found a perfect example of this truth when I was fortunate enough to be able to spend two weeks in Poland.

Poland wasn't somewhere I'd ever thought of going. At the time I worked for a museum and the trip was an exchange program between my museum and a sister one in Lodz. My gracious hosts took me all over the country in those two weeks. I saw castles, historical sailing ships and some of the most beautiful chapels in existence. I also saw the gnomes of Wroclaw.

Much of Poland's history is laced with sadness and oppression. The people of Wroclaw, however, found a way to lighten that burden through humor. The original gnomes were the work of the Orange Alternative Movement of the 1980s. Its members painted bright orange gnomes on buildings as a way of protesting the absurdity of the communist edicts they were forced to live under. The silliness of the paintings were a way to help the people of the city cope with their oppressors.

In 2003, the Wroclaw city council commissioned local artist Tomasz Moczek to create a memorial to the original gnomes. Moczek sculpted a series of gnomes which were then placed all over the city. They are quite popular and tourists are given a map of their locations so they can enjoy them as they stroll through the city. To me they are also a testament to the strength and endurance of the Polish people. In spite of all the tragedy they have endured as a country, they have the gnomes to put a smile on their faces.

Debra Doggett

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