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Laughter is the best medicine

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

I don’t think we laugh enough in our society today. We live in a society where it seems that there is so much criticism, misunderstanding and even hatred, especially towards politicians and people of cultures that we have stereotyped.

I think we need to learn to laugh more, including laughing at ourselves. I know when I recently went out west to visit my oldest son and his wife and four children, I realized that I had not laughed that much in a long time.

In my mind, children are the greatest source of laughter. It is not that they do things that are all that funny, it is sometimes that they remind us of how we used to be in struggling with new challenges, etc. For example watch a three-year-old, determined to get their winter coat on and insisting on not getting help, or our twins sometimes taking good food from their brother or sister and exchanging it with food that they found less tasty.

It does not even have to be a laugh as Mother Teresa said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

E. E. Cummings once said that the most wasted of all days is one without laughter. A man I know says that he starts every day with watching The Comedy Channel for 30 minutes. Now I find that strange, but maybe it is one way of putting you in a cheery disposition to begin your day’s challenges.

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter,” said Mark Twain. Maybe that is really true.

Lord Byron insisted that we should always laugh when we can, as it is cheap medicine.  You might remember the movie “Patch Adams” based on Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams, who is an American physician, comedian, social activist, clown and author. Each year he organizes a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries and they dress as clowns in an effort to bring humour to orphans, patients, and other people.

In the movie, one of my favourite comedians, Robin Williams, portrays Patch. When Robin passed away this is what Patch Adams had to say: “The terrible news of the passing of Robin Williams reached me here in the Peruvian Amazon late Monday night with tremendous sadness. Surrounded by over 100 friends and clowns on our annual clown trip, we mourn this tragic loss and continue to treasure his comic genius. Robin Williams was a wonderful, kind and generous man…he was unassuming – he never acted as if he was powerful or famous. Instead, he was always tender and welcoming, willing to help others with a smile or a joke. Robin was a brilliant comedian – there is no doubt. He was a compassionate, caring human being. While watching him work on the set of the film based on my life – Patch Adams – I saw that whenever there was a stressful moment, Robin would tap into his improvisation style to lighten the mood of cast and crew. Also, I would like to point out, Robin would be especially kind toward my children when they would visit the set.”

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,” said William Shakespeare.

Even Abraham Lincoln concluded “with the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die.”

“If I were given the opportunity to present a gift to the next generation, it would be the ability for each individual to learn to laugh at himself,” said Charles Schulz.

“Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy,” John Cleese said.

“Laughter has no foreign accent,” said Paul Lowney

Finally from Maurice Chevalier, “You don’t stop laughing because you grow older. You grow older because you stop laughing”.

Readers are invited to send me their best jokes and perhaps next week, you will see them in a column… Or maybe I will just soak them all up in laughter at bdfox@rogers.com