Friday, June 01, 2012

Laughter and Tears

We need to laugh more.

Not the cynical chuckles of the chattering classes or the derisive digs of cable TV narcissists. I am speaking of joyful, spontaneous, from-the-belly laughter that comes when we are with good friends observing and reflecting on the human drama. Life is just funny sometimes. Watching children play in the mud, teenagers try to impress each other and the not-so-subtle rituals of daily life evoke smiles and guffaws. Hearing a good pun - intended or not - is a cause for grinning. Great comedic acting and physical comedy, from Dick Van Dyke to Robin Williams, helps us forget our stress and marvel at what our brains and bodies can do.

We need more tears.

There should be a lump in our throats when "Taps" is played and we remember our fallen soldiers. Watching soldiers reunite with their families moistens our eyes. When we hear or see the oppression of the vulnerable anywhere we ought to taste bitter tears flowing from a heart of compassion. Joy can bring tears as unexpected kindness comes our way. Self-control is a noble discipline. It does not mean the absence of tears, but the ability to guard our reactions to the tears. America needs to weep for the missing 55 million since Roe v. Wade. But tears are also in reserve for the desperate ones looking for a way out of poverty and violence. It is good to cry during happy endings and weddings.

The antidote for all the anger we observe - from political rhetoric to the uncomfortable verbal joust next door - is a renewed commitment to live fully and well each day. If we will wake up and think about the glory of God and the good of others, we will laugh and cry more. If we defer some gratification we will enjoy the rewards of our sacrifice at the proper time. If we turn off the gratuitous nonsense and tune into great literature and music, the deepest wellsprings of our being are liberated.

Yes, we must work, vote, and fulfill other duties. We face enormous personal stress. But we can decide to live from the inside out, directing our affections and actions toward transforming our world instead of just surviving another day.

Let's laugh more. And cry more. When we do, we will love more as well.

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