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  • Writer's picturegailphilip4

Why see the funny side when you could be miserable?

Humour is a huge human asset. I doubt whether animals see the funny side of things, though I know some people believe their pets can smile. Humour is widely used in ordinary conversation. Good teachers use humour to make a teaching point, or to manage a pupil’s behaviour without being heavy handed. Humour can defuse an angry situation. If you can see the funny side of a difficulty it lightens the burden. Maybe you will live longer if you laugh more.

Sometimes I think there is a very thin dividing line between humour and sarcasm. The teacher who says to a pupil in front of the whole class: “I think your work has improved a tiny bit – but it’s taken the last two years!” may gain a laugh but has strayed into sarcasm. But perhaps some people need this sort of jolt.

Humour is not for every occasion. A sick person arriving at hospital in an ambulance may not appreciate the suggestion that they have enjoyed a free taxi ride.

Did Jesus use humour? I would say so. When he used hyperbole/exaggeration to make a point he used humorous images: the camel trying to get through the eye of a needle, the debtor who, having been forgiven a massive debt, demands payment for a much smaller amount and gets thrown into prison, Nicodemus struggling to understand what Jesus meant by “being born again” and supposing that Jesus might mean this literally!

Where people deserved it Jesus brought a sarcastic edge to his humour. Having called the Pharisees hypocrites, he said: “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside” (Matthew 23:27).

So... try to see the funny side of things – even (or especially, perhaps) in the lock-down. By the way, isn’t it disgraceful that when you go for a walk in the park you find that others had the same idea as yourself?

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