STONE ELEVEN CONTINUED
Laugh: I choose laughter as the notes of my song. This temporal life is a journey to be enjoyed. I look for the comedy in situations, and I learn to laugh at my own comedy of errors.
Instruction: Let go of bad humor.
Unfortunately, humor can have its dark side. When we laugh at people instead of with them, we are not using laughter in a positive way but in a negative way. Simply being aware of the difference between good and bad humor helps us to avoid being cruelly unkind. There are ways of using dark humor to our advantage, and one of those ways is to exaggerate dark humor to a degree that we see it for what it is — silly, untrue, unkind and ultimately unwanted. The humor of Don Rickles comes to mind. If we were to take his words at face value, we would dislike the man, and some who don’t understand his sense of humor do not find him funny. He says things that are often unmentionable and politically incorrect in order for us to see how ridiculous our prejudices can be. He categorizes people by ethnicity and calls them names that had we used them when we were children, our mothers would have washed our mouths out with soap. It is his extreme, almost like a child without a filter, that makes us laugh at him, and ultimately at the likeness of ourselves we see within his cutting words.
Don Rickles sets for us a bad example, an extreme that is so wrong that it opens our eyes to the right, and through his foul approach we actually become better people. Don Rickles’ humor is the exception, not the rule. But there are ways in which we can emulate, to a lesser degree, the lighthearted “ribbing” that allows us to poke fun at our world and the seriousness we often give to it. We should avoid humor that hurts people — that is the bad side of humor — but we can find humor in our own story. Self-deprecating humor can help us lighten the seriousness in situations and call us back to the song of joy of the childlike nature that lives within each of us.
Today’s Assignment is to consider the nature of your humor. Do we enjoy a good laugh at someone else’s expense? If so, we might want to look for other ways to be funny and humorous. Laughter doesn’t always have to be about hilarity. Light humor can also lighten our mood and brighten our day. Let us remember to avoid the dark side of humor and bring out the best in everyone, including ourselves.
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