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Laughter keeps us from brink of madness

As readers of this column know, I think laughter is very important. Most readers who comment to me, do as well. They frequently cite something that tickled them.

As readers of this column know, I think laughter is very important. Most readers who comment to me, do as well. They frequently cite something that tickled them.

Scientists tell us that of all creatures on earth, only man has the gift of laughter. In my four score and five, I'm met very few people who didn't have a sense of humor. Those are not very happy people and most everyone feels sorry for them.

The only times, I lose my sense of humor or my appreciation of laughter are humorous TV shows that play canned laughter as loud as they run commercials. To me, in addition to being insulting (predetermining when and where I'm supposed to laugh) it sometimes interferes with the program dialogue.

Once a prize was offered as prize for the best answer to the question. "What makes life worth living?" The novelist, Rafael Sabatini, won it with the following epigram: "To be born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad." This statement ultimately found its way to a place over the portals of a gate at Yale University.

Robert Ingersol was quoted as remarking: "Laughing has always been considered to be a crime by theologians." That I think, was some church leaders only, many years ago who felt religion was extremely serious and laughter not often proper. One religious leader, Rev. Alfred Hobart, said it quite the contrary, "Laughter frees mankind from fear, and on the day that human beings learned to laugh at Hell, the gates of Hell crumbled."

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Laughter brings strength and confidence in moments of peril and discouragement. Laughter is warming. An American submarine under attack was taken down to the ocean bottom while depth charges exploded all about them.

The men waited tensely, sweating it out, death in every depth charge. Suddenly, a creaking voice from an upper bunk said, "Anybody want to buy a good watch cheap?" A roar of laughter followed and the danger of hysteria was gone.

I used to read columns by Lewis Grizzard when my newspaper ran his syndicated column.

One time he used a church scene for a good situation to read about rather than being there that day. It was a snake-handling church for folks who took literally the Bible statement: "Take up the serpent!"

As Grizzard describes the scene that day in southern Georgia Coweta County: Reverend Roy Dodd Hembree was chasing the devil out the county when a fellow walked right down to the pulpit and asked Brother Ray Dodd if he personally had enough faith to take up the serpent.

Brother Roy Dodd said that he'd never been asked to. Whereupon the man said that he did now as he dumped out a large cottonmouth moccasin on the sawdust floor. Well, Brother Ray Dodd grabbed a metal folding chair and he beat that snake to death and with serious and proper intonation said: "Shame that I didn't have a chance to save this belly crawling sinner before the Lord called him home."

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