Have you ever heard a joke that depicted Turks as hot-headed and thick? Or a joke about women from Rasht being promiscuous? Or how about jokes about Shirazis that portray them as shiftless do-nothings?
We tell ourselves it’s okay to make fun of each other in this way because obviously “it’s just a joke”, and the people we ridicule seldom feel offended – they’re either used to it or used to making the same kind of jokes themselves. But someone does get hurt from all this, and it is the person who ridicules his fellow men. It shapes him into a new man without him even being aware of it, and diminishes both his compassion and his self-respect (and most definitely also the quality of his humour).
It’s a shame that we divide ourselves up like this. Even if the jokes themselves are seemingly harmless, the thought patterns behind the jokes contribute a whole lot to a great number of people’s deeply rooted sense of loneliness. Don’t many of us already feel that the world doesn’t care, and that we stand alone in waiting to accept our fate? Dividing ourselves by the borders of our own ostan makes us just as weak as we would have been strong if we had united across them.
Some people might feel that joking about each other also is a way of showing and embracing unison, that we have such a good relationship with people from other parts of our country that we without fear can both make and take jokes. Still though, be careful. If someone continuously gets to hear something about themselves they might believe it in the end and live up to the stereotype of the culture/city/ethnicity they belong to. It is the power of the self-fulfilling stereotypes that makes us produce behaviours that reflect the stereotype that people have of us if they treat us according to them.
So let us take humour more seriously, and let our jokes instead be witty, clever and unifying so that we can get closer to the day where the only thing that would be maskhare would be to maskhare one’s compatriots.