Humor is a good and important thing.
The ability to laugh at life, to laugh at oneself, shows faith, optimism and humility. Laughter in the face of adversity is a sign of a healthy spirit.
In this sense, the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner was once a positive event.
Poking fun at the highest centers of power in Washington showed that, despite differences of opinion, our commitment to our most fundamental values -- particularly our First Amendment protections for freedom of speech and religion -- held us together and our sense of nationhood.
But something has happened. The common ground that held us together is shattering.
There was no humor in this year's correspondents' dinner. What pretended to be humor was politicized vulgarity driven by animosity and hate.
The attacks on members of the Trump administration by leftist comedienne Michelle Wolf were shots across a ravine -- a ravine that now divides America into two sides that have so little in common, and share so few values, that it is not clear whether our national fabric can withstand the great tension pulling on it.
Wolf called Vice President Pence a "weirdo", saying he "thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don't knock it till you try it. And when you do try it really knock it. You know, you got to get that baby out of there."
It interesting that Wolf referred to the humanity in the mother's womb as a "baby." If she thinks the infant is a baby, then she agrees with Mike Pence that abortion is the destruction of a distinct and unique individual.
When we cannot agree as a nation on something so fundamental as the nature and meaning of life, our national unity stands on very shaky ground. This was on display at the correspondents' dinner.
The retiring president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, is now touring the country promoting her new book in which celebrates her 12 years as head of he nation's largest abortion provider and extolling the virtues of the pro-abortion movement. Not once does she mention, per Alexandra de Sanctis in National Review, that "under her watch Planned Parenthood clinics have performed 3.5 million abortions."
When President Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address, as the Civil War raged, he said, "Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other."
Arguably our national fabric is more damaged today than then, when the nation was torn apart over the issue of slavery.
Not only do the warring sides today not "read the same Bible," but many, probably most, do not read it, care about it, nor share any common thoughts on the existence and nature of our Creator.
According to a new Pew Research report, although 80 percent of Americans say they believe in God, just 56 percent of this 80 percent say they believe in God "as described in Bible."
This means that only 44 percent of all Americans today believe in the God of the Bible.
In a Marist poll of January 2018, 44 percent self-identified as "pro-life" -- exactly the same percentage that believe in the God of the Bible.
Perhaps one reason White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was able to so graciously hold her composure, despite the vicious attacks directed at her at that maybe final WHCA dinner, was she knew deep inside that Michelle Wolf is the epitome of our nation's great divide, which is not a laughing matter.
Perhaps we should turn again to Lincoln who said that a "nation divided against itself cannot stand." Per his wisdom, we might expect that we will move again to be a nation that reveres life and the God of our Bible. Or maybe we'll continue our descend into the abyss of nihilism.