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Wednesday, June 29 2022
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Laughter is the best medicine for all ailments except death! - 7 min read

Photo Credit : Wikimedia

When you negotiate a cease fire with your back to a wall, and literally no gap between your back and the wall, it’s because you have concluded that nobody has your back, no matter what they say in front of you!  You realise quickly that you must kow-tow to whoever is sitting or standing in front and his / her demands. Of course, as the popular saying in Kannada goes – those who bend are entitled to an additional blow!

The choice is between a backstabbing disc compression and a Chest Press while exercising with weights. It will be a weight of your chest, while you wait with compressed breath for your back to straighten and regain your posture before you will be able to posture again.

These thoughts came to me as I read this buried (just buried – not dead and buried as the saying goes) paragraph in a news item on the Ukraine Situation as described by a Ukrainian Envoy, and not a status update from the Russian Situation room with its long table and socially distanced war council discussing bombs, bullets, and Western BS! (read that as Bluster and Sanctions, not what you thought you read, though it might as well be), that is, if you’ve been following the news from more than your local sources!

The intensity of the Chest and Back Press can be deduced from the headline of the article in which I found this paragraph: “35 killed as Russia rains fire on Ukraine military base, hint of resolution in the air | Top points”

Let me quote from the buried paragraph:

“HOPE FOR RESOLUTION SOON?

Despite the violence, both sides gave their most upbeat assessment yet of the prospects for progress at bilateral talks that have been held periodically since Russia the start of the invasion, although they gave no details of what might be agreed.

“Russia is already beginning to talk constructively,” Ukrainian negotiator and presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said in a video posted online. “I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days.”

When Russia begins to talk constructively, the prices of steel and cement are likely to go up like oil already has, as it could possibly be the beginning of another Berlin Wall but more to the east! It was the fermentation in the Y*east that prompted the Wall estimation after all!

The real tragedy of war is not just the costs of war – lives, prices, availability, fear, anger, mayhem, personal and professional growth, economies, and political dialogue – or the accessibility of McDonalds and Christian Dior in Moscow, but the death of laughter. Literally the laugh has been gouged out of the belly and you can only hear it rumble! Grumble too because there is no food to eat! McDonalds has shut shop!

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The man who won the presidential race on the back of his satirical take of the presidency itself, who helped a nation laugh at its foibles, and sweep a serious situation (and a president) under the carpet – that’s called a scurryfunge by the way – (he has already re-emerged), has now little time to engage in or help others laugh at their own lives because those lives themselves are at stake or already tied to one ready to be burnt, including his own! It’s gotten too serious, because on the other side, its a Grimm in charge! And that is the tragedy of polities and politics. When the Grimms take charge, you get a scary, not a fairy tale!

Luckily for us one of our own is following this blazing (figuratively 92 seats) trail in one of our major states. That is something that may bring a smile to the residents faces, and hopefully a belly full of laughter (and food) in the course of time. Certainly, we hope it will have a positive impact on India’s ranking in the Happiness index which has deteriorated over the years – Starting with rank 111 in 2013, it has consistently been going down and was a dismal 139 in the 2021 report – a dip of 25%!  Its time to stop reading Grimms Fairy / Scary tales, lest they come true.

We have a chance to do that, but we as a nation have a very poor sense of humour – that is why most people ignore my column! and Satirists are trolled, while those they caricature, are extolled! if there is humour to be found, anger is not far behind. They are first cousins; surname? Sentiment! Most of us don’t look at humour or satire as ointment for a burn wound, but Vinegar in Gajjar ka Halwa.

I was just reading a very interesting article on BBC.com on how laughter CAN make us a better polity and improve our politics – as of now, the joke is on us. It quotes a policemen-comedian – policeman by day – (now ex) and that’s a damn serious job – and comedian by night Alfie Moore. He uses his experience of how the police operate to poke fun and expose polices that seem logical only to those who make them!

So how does it change things? Well, he says people watch his shows with pre-ordained notions of what policing is all about and leave with a new perspective – “One phrase I heard recently was, ‘If they’re laughing, they’re listening’, and I think that’s a powerful quote. “Nobody ever listened to me when I was in the police. I had no influence. I’d never met senior officers and I’d never met my chief constable. Now I’ve been out of the police, lots of people listen to me. The Radio 4 show got 1.4 million listeners per episode. I had chief constables emailing me.”

So that’s how. That’s how the President of Ukraine became the President of Ukraine and that’s how we have a chief minister who we expect will change our perspective of politics – from the grim to the whim!

There is science behind the meme, behind the Stand-up Comedy, that at least some of watch and enjoy, not to prosecute, persecute or troll, as the Grimms do, but to enjoy, relax and extol, which irks them more!

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The BBC Article I am quoting time and again – forgive me for that or laugh at me if it makes you happy (at least happier than you were before!) – says there is a science to it. It quotes Scott Weems, a cognitive neuroscientist and author as saying, “My first thought when I think about humour is it’s a great way for us to have evolved so we don’t have to hit each other with sticks,”, for that is what we do when we are grim, is it not? When we prefer anger to laughter, when we prefer praise to criticism, when we prefer stubbornness to correction and when we prefer hate to love? When our preferences matter more than those of others and is no laughing matter when they take precedence?

Humour has a social function, and now a political function too. It can reform and reframe society and social justice, it can break taboos, give a reality check to people in power, and relieve us of the stress of daily life under the Grimms! Josie Long, British Comedian says “Politics can leave you beleaguered, plagued, miserable. It’s that maxim where they say, ‘Satire is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted’.”  But will the Grimms allow you that leeway? Doesn’t seem like it! Now, I can see them smile!

Humour – it’s just beginning to work in India, and we must not laugh off this beginning! Seriously! Not if we want to move up on the Happiness Index. What’s our preference? dynasty or die nasty? Either way we must find a way to laugh it off, or we die early! Laughter is indeed the best medicine – for all ailments except death!


Disclaimer

This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental.

Brian Fernandes

Brian is an alumnus of Roshni Nilaya’s Post Graduate School of Social Work, HR Department and has 30 years of local and international HR and General Management experience. Journalism, poetry, and feature writing is a passion which he is now able to pursue at will. Additionally, he loves compering and hosting talk shows. He loves learning and imparting it; so, when time permits, he provides leadership facilitation and soft skills training to Postgraduate students and Corporates in Mangaluru and Bengaluru. Besides, he is an accomplished Toastmaster under the aegis of Toastamasters.org and a designated Distinguished Toast Master.

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