“Some claim that puns are the lowest form of comedy. Dan, rather, says, “Guns are the lowest form of community.” Choose your weepin’! I prefer to hit ’em in the groan. Though puns and untrained minds can produce a “Not see,” puns and arms go hand in hand when used as a righting instrument. Mixing puns with peacework puts you in the dis’armament business; and though rhyme doesn’t pay, the prophets are good. With puns, and sharing a little peace of mine, we can realize that one side fits all. In truth, it’s guns that have too “meanings” for the price of won. Sometimes it takes everything we’ve got to see the blight (as they say, “sinner takes all”). While some may feel it’s an impossible play on wars (a mortality play for sure), all it takes is a sick sense (no relation to paranormal parents). Let’s have some serious fun (a free for all). Justice is no yoke. Think good that the pun is mightier than the sword!”
I wrote this manifesto early on in my career as Top Pun. I have been a terrible punster as long as I can remember, and I have been interested in a wide range of social justice issues since I was a young adult. I remember that my parents, recognizing my propensity towards puns, gave me a dictionary of puns as a present one year for my birthday. In this pun dictionary, it was stated that there are an infinite number of puns. At first, and actually for a very long time, I thought that this could not be possible. Now, after cementing my vocation as the best punster for peace in the English-speaking world, I have little difficulty recognizing that there aren’t infinite number of puns. I am a little surprised that this “Puns Not Guns” manifesto has held up so well for me over the years. I think that maybe I’m onto something with this punning thing.
As you can tell from the manifesto, much of my early inspiration comes from involvement in the peace movement. Nonviolence seems to be the thread that ties together all of the many issues that I’m interested in. Of course, perhaps conveniently, I define nonviolence very broadly (that’s non-broadly if you’re a woman). Actually, while my first foray into nonviolence was in the late 70s when my mom took me to a peace conference at our church, Central United Methodist Church in Detroit. This is the most salient event that I can identify as far as my consciousness raising around peace issues. Back to the whole issue of nonviolence, I defined world hunger and extreme poverty as violence. World hunger has continued to be the defining issue for me in relation to the world. The interface between great affluence and extreme poverty has always challenged and perplexed me. It is very difficult for me to reconcile these cruel and destructive differences in a world with so much. The fact that such issues are deep and central to me really comes as no surprise. In fact, I was literally born into it. I was born in Haiti while my parents were serving as medical missionaries with the Mennonite Central Committee. My father was a physician at the time, and my mother was a nurse at the time. Mennonites have a tradition of encouraging their young folks after high school or college to perform some service to others. Also, while I have been a lifelong United Methodist, I come from a very long line of Mennonites. This Mennonite influence has been very strong, with predictable outcomes, in the sense, that peace and justice and simple living are powerful themes in my life. Little did I realize early in my life that I was a good candidate for being a hippie. My parents never really spoke that much about their experiences in Haiti, and when they did speak of their experiences in Haiti, they spoke rather nonchalantly. Perhaps paradoxically, this more casual exceptions of what is hardly typical service, instilled in me that such commitment and service should be normal; and for me it was normal.
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