Life’s more amusing than we thought.
                                      Andrew Lang

A mother field mouse and her brood huddle in the tall grass.  She looks bemused as one of the youngsters innocently asks, "Mommy, where are we on the food chain?"

Comedy and tragedy. The world overflows with both, but tragic events often overshadow the lighter, brighter side of life. Why wouldn’t the incessant dreary drumbeat of pollution, extinctions, and human suffering drown out the softer chimes of hope and humor tingling amid the din?

Yet good people everywhere, including scores of Pantheists, devote untold hours to better the world. And Pantheists bring their special optimism and joie de vivre to the task:

--Pantheist optimism reflects an affinity with Nature and its creative energy. However badly humans mistreat the Earth, Nature will rebound ( with us or without us) and life will flourish. Pantheists know they’re on the right side in battles to save the environment, and they unite with the power that pushes tender seedlings through cracks in concrete.

--Pantheist joie de vivre reflects a prodigiously positive view of existence. Heaven's on Earth. Right here, right now, not in an imagined afterlife. Pantheists revel in every precious moment, and realize life is short, much too short to let heartbreaking happenings long overcloud the joys of living.

Life’s much more amusing than we thought. The word ‘amuse’ comes from the Old French ‘amuser’ which means to stupefy. Life stupefies us with its wonders, it occupies us in agreeable, pleasing ways, and it causes us to laugh or smile by giving pleasure.

Pantheists have no corner on humor, but they do tend to laugh a lot--never making light of the planet’s plight--but joining with others who realize the many merits of merriment.

Humor renew spirits, even in the face of overwhelming gloom.  Humor often adds perspective and exposes the absurdities of modern civilization. Laughing reduces tension and stress. It generates happy feelings  (studies confirm that laughter triggers pleasure-inducing endorphins).  It has exercise value  (researchers claims laughing 100 times a day is the equivalent of rowing strenuously for 10 minutes). Laughter even stimulates the immune system by increasing the production of disease fighting antibodies. No wonder the person who laughs, lasts.

It’s so advisable to be risible, to cultivate mirth and gladness.

But understandably, in the bustle of day to day living, people sometimes forget about fun. Yet with just a little thought we can jump-start joviality. Our family enjoys a "joke for the day" ritual (alongside the "word for the day" and the "quote for the day"), in which we share rib-ticklers with one another, often at dinnertime. Something like this:

A ferocious lion chases a missionary through the jungle and finally corners him. With no other option left, the missionary falls to his knees in prayer. To his great surprise, the lion also begins to pray.
"This is miraculous," says the missionary, "joining me in prayer when I had given myself up for lost."
"Don’t interrupt," says the lion, "I’m saying grace."

We glean jokes from friends, library books, magazines, and the Internet. Or we make up our own. We post zany newspaper articles and comic strips on the refrigerator. And we share funny incidents from our own daily experiences, remembering now and then to laugh at ourselves.

Good humor often pops up in cartoon anthologies. For example, Gary Larson’s popular The Far Side Series contains hilarious material in which animals, rather than humans, often have the edge-- one panel shows a shipwrecked individual clinging to driftwood and heading towards a small island with a just a palm tree, a watching canine, and a sign that reads "Beware of Dog." Larson’s  new cartoon book titled There’s A Hair in My Dirt! combines humor and humus in a wonderful worms-eye view of ecology.

Children’s joke books may also bring a grin, as do these items from The Wackiest Nature Riddles on Earth by Mike Artell. Ask a youngster: What do you get when you cross a boa constrictor and pasta? (Spaghetti that winds itself around the fork). What sedimentary rock is sourer than the rest? (Limestone). What do ecologists eat for dessert? (Environ-mints).

A sparkling quote by R. W.  Emerson says "the Earth laughs in flowers."  Nature splashes colors riotously around the globe. Nature’s same creative exhuberance generated humanity, with its unique capacity for self awareness and fun. In a way, "the Earth laughs through us" when we find joy and humor in our lives.


By Gary Suttle

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