Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Great Humor Escape

It's a widespread popular belief that humor may be employed in a healthy, useful way to develop altered states of consciousness, or states of mind that remove us from our ordinary conscious awareness of ourselves and our surroundings. 

Is this position defensible? 

Let us first consider some of the reasons why humor might be unhealthy and in tension with accepted societal values. 

Recognizably, there are times when humor is not appropriate. Unless, of course, you ask the person in a difficult situation whether or not they would enjoy a joke to take their mind of the pain.

Asking someone's permission before cracking a joke utilizes humor as it is intended, as a remedy or device, minimizing stress so that people can again return to a state where they can "think straight." 

Under the imperial ambitions of Pericles during Plato's time, we too live in a world where the art of persuasion is the most coveted form of artwork in the modern world. Daily, people deceive one another for self-promoting intentions rather than working together toward a common goal. 

As such, the incongruities of humor could be seen as hypocritical (derived from the Greek hypokrisis, which means play acting or feigning). This would account for some people's strong reactions toward humor, deeming it a dangerous escape from reality rather than a positive escape from pain and suffering. 

Whether you consider humor a positive or negative escape depends largely on the life experiences that have influenced your present mindset. Often times, people who have experienced great tragedy tend to laugh easier, recognizing humor as a welcomed release or an escape from pain rather than a distraction from living life according to truth and wisdom. 

Laughter brings with it a release that helps us separate from pain to find a more balanced perspective. In this respect, humor's like an emotional reset button. 

The stern insistence on truth-telling enslaves people into thinking that truth cannot be funny. Yet, it is the quiet truths about living which collectively we find the funniest.

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