This I Believe

Andy - Saint Paul, Minnesota
Entered on March 18, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in skepticism, …but I’m not sure.

I believe that needing to state your beliefs is a sign of fear and insecurity.

I believe, if my life had some useful purpose, I wouldn’t be writing a radio show to tell them about my beliefs.

I believe in Jerry Rubin’s saying, “Never trust anyone over 30.” …Which is why I don’t trust myself.

I believe I’m not sure what I believe.

…But, most of all, I believe in humor. Specifically, I believe in the kind of humor that gets to the core of a serious issue and then laughs at it—the kind of humor that strips away pretensions, opens your eyes and enables you to see the world in a new way.

I believe it’s important not only to laugh but to laugh at yourself and allow others to laugh at you. Most politicians, orthodox religious folks or people in positions of power don’t like to be laughed at. Heck, most of us don’t like to be laughed at, including me. Don’t laugh! The best comedians can laugh at themselves, however, and they often derive their most incisive humor from this. I’m thinking of people like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Gilda Radner, Dave Barry, Stephen Colbert, John Stewart, Mel Brooks, Tom Lehrer, and Paula Poundstone. I LOVE you guys! You’ve helped me survive 41 years on this planet.

Humor dissipates pain and anxiety. It’s gotten me through a lot of hard physical and emotional times. When we stop laughing, the pain and anxiety builds up inside us and we start acting crazy. It’s no coincidence that repressive governments or religious groups often try to censor humor. Eliminating laughter helps them keep their populations under control. They go after cartoonists like Honoré Daumier, comedians like Lenny Bruce or, more recently, Bill Mahr and Tom Toles. They claim these humorists are “unpatriotic.” If they can’t arrest them, they orchestrate hate-mail campaigns to try and get them fired from the newspaper, radio show or TV outlet that publishes them. Orthodox religious mullahs issue fatwas for their execution …all in an effort to stop the laughter! Because nothing disarms power like humor and satire.

…But maybe humor uselessly dissipates rage and energy that could be better used to CHALLENGE power and FIX problems? As a skeptic, I can’t be sure. We skeptics can’t be sure of anything …but, on the bright side, we’re open to EVERYTHING. Uh, where was I? …Oh yeah… Humor is very personal. What one person finds humorous, another might find revolting or insulting—like the campfire scene in the Mel Brooks film “Blazing Saddles” or that scene in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail,” where an academic historian is lecturing about medieval history and a medieval knight on horseback rides by out of nowhere and KILLS him! …Now THAT’s funny!

Lastly, I believe that humor is destroyed by any attempt to describe it. So I’ll stop right here. Suffice it to say, I hope we all keep laughing.