Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Divine Disinfectant

Do you know what it is that we all need in these grey, damp February days?
No, I'm not thinking of sunshine, I'm thinking of what was once called 'that divine disinfectant' . . . I'm thinking of laughter.

Surely laughter is the most unlikely and inspired gift from God? Who else would have thought of it? There's not the slightest practical necessity.
We don't need to laugh in order to function perfectly well physically. An appreciation of the ridiculous is no requisite for efficient hunting, gathering or procreation . . . although a sense of humour can enhance all of those occupations!
No . . . the stomach-wrenching act of laughter, the cacophony of mirth, is a useless, senseless, inexplicable stroke of sheer genius! It's a wholly beneficial blessing . . . one that enhances our health, lifts our spirits and restores our humanity.
I defy you to listen to this laughter and not smile in response.

But, wait a moment, in saying that laughter is useless I could well be completely wrong. A disinfectant is far from useless, it fulfills a very important function. What if laughter is man's inbuilt survival mechanism . . . a final, fail-safe way to prevent us from destroying each other?
Tell me, have you been able to retain a sense of anger or animosity after sharing a laugh? I haven't.
An old Yiddish proverb puts it perfectly:
"What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul."

So . . . I'm game if you are. Let's defy those grey skies with a laugh.
And, although the pictures I've chosen to illustrate this letter would suggest otherwise, laughter is by no means monopolized by the young.
"You don't stop laughing because you grow old," a wise man said, "You grow old because you stop laughing."