Sunday, 23 September 2012

Circus and Clowns

When I was a kid, circus was a big deal. When there were not many options for entertainment; wild animals, clowns and acrobats which were the core events in a circus became a source of thrill and excitement. I was told by my late parents that an event in a circus changed my life. I was a heavy consumer of milk as a baby and refused to let go the bottles even when I grew older (can't remember the exact age). However, when I saw a bear sucking milk from a bottle I decided to not do the same anymore!

I have not been to a circus for many many years. I am not sure whether there is one nowadays as most of us now watch circus on television. However, if we were reflect the way we live our lives, we could start to see that some of us are behaving as if they are the star attraction in a circus.

A circus will not be one without clowns. While they wear fancy and colourful dresses, these people are professionals and were able to deal with wild animals, involve in acrobatic acts while at the same time make the crowd happy and smiling. Being on the centre stage, the clowns will be involved in funny acts and making fun of themselves with the sole purpose of entertaining the audience.

In the real world we may have professionals choosing to act like clowns, whether they realise that or not. If we define clowning as engaging in funny actions, then we could start to see many clown, perhaps in suits, walking down our streets. Why am I saying this?

Clowns in business suits?
A professional uses his or her specialist knowledge and skills to serve the society and to act in the best interest of the society. As a trade off, professionals are given privileges by the society and the access to their fields are restricted to recognised professionals only. Professionals must externalise values which make them honourable in the eyes of the society they serve. 

So, when professionals start to forget about this principle and argue that public interest is not their business, we could deduce that they are akin to behaving in funny actions, not that far from those of clowns. What more when they do this in front of big audience, albeit among their own kind in a confined space. Such situation is dangerously close to be similar to an old time circus that we used to know. 

This is where the difference between a professional clown and a professional acting like a clown could be seen. While the former are normally entertaining, the entertainment value of the later may be very minimum but many may want to cry to observe their behaviours. To make the situation worse,  the accidental clowns do not charge any fee, their performance is free for the world to watch. Not sure whether such cheap show actually reflect the class (or the absence of any class) of this clowning professionals. 

I suppose we need to be careful in whatever that we do, not withstanding we are professionals or not. Remember, if we do funny things in public, we could turn out to be clowns and the world would be laughing at us without us realising.

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