This is the fifth in a series of pieces exploring the 13 Atheopagan Principles. To see the rest of them, click on “Atheopagan Principles” in the tag cloud on the right.
“I laugh a lot…including at myself.”
So reads the Fifth Atheopagan Principle, and I think it is one of the most important of them.
For, wonderful as it is, hard as it can be, one thing can be said unequivocally about this world: it is filled with absurdity. And that warrants many a good laugh.
Laughter is a tonic so powerful that it gives us strength to carry on despite long odds and many disappointments. It cements good feeling among friends, and eases tensions among enemies. It is simply a good, pleasurable thing. Only when it is meant as cruelty is it wrong.
As to the latter part of the Principle, if we can’t find humor in our foibles, idiosyncrasies and circumstances, we are succumbing to what the Discordians term Greyface. At that very moment, we begin to take ourselves too seriously. We start being excessively concerned with how we look to others. We lose our core selves to a facade we think we are cultivating.
A good belly laugh at our own humanness is a fine thing. It helps us to stay humble, livens up life considerably, tends to promote optimism. And it feels great.
If there is any major failing the major monotheisms have fallen into, it is their inability to laugh at themselves. Instead of viewing humor as a healthy perspective-balancing release of tension, they see heresy and blasphemy and all manner of scary monsters.
Which I, frankly, wish they would put a sock in, because it’s not helping our world any.
Pagans are generally pretty good about making fun of themselves and not taking themselves too seriously, though there are certainly exceptions. I would insert a Pagan joke here, but I’m afraid all of them that I know are blue.
I have less experience of the atheist/skeptic community, but they seem perhaps a little more tightly wound. A lot of the humor I see in their venues online mocks others’ religions, sometimes wittily, and others rudely.
As an Atheopagan, I make it my business to look for the humor even in difficult situations, and to seize the opportunity when a good laugh comes along. That’s why there are some funny songs in the Hymnal. It’s why there are sometimes funny elements in my rituals.
I say, embrace the laugh—lighten up, and look for joy over anger or sorrow when and where you find them. There is plenty of time for seriousness in the world; if levity is overlooked, life is less richly lived.
Laughter brings us together. It keeps us grounded. And it tells us that somehow, things are going to be all right.