The Coronavirus is No Laughing Matter (but we need something to laugh about)


We are living in strange times.  Businesses and schools shut, sports leagues and entertainment suspended, places of worship shuttered, and grocery stores ransacked.  The price of gas has dropped but there’s nowhere to go; the kids are out of school for weeks, but the museums, zoos and movie theatres are closed; there’s time to play sports, but no place to do it.  It’s easy in these times to draw profound conclusions about how fragile the thread of normalcy is, about how globalism is a double edged sword, about how these crises bring out the best and the worst in people, about how important leadership is in dangerous times, and about how casually we take for granted the choice, freedom and safety we normally possess.

But we also need to keep laughing.  We need to take our eye off the stock market which is behaving like an EKG and have a good, hearty laugh.  I read an entertaining article this morning by Michael Schulman in The New Yorker entitled “Convincing Boomer Parents to Take the Coronavirus Seriously” (just another reason I’m glad I follow Jane Mayer on Twitter).  No matter how grim things get, there is always a place for comedy; laughter is as genuine and necessary a human activity as worrying or crying.  And we need a balance.  We need to remember that previous generations survived much worse threats (different, but objectively worse) than we are currently facing.  And as bad as it may be for you and your family right now, there are probably people in your community who are in a worse situation. So take a moment to laugh, to find the humour in an aspect of a grim situation.  Don’t misunderstand—I’m not advocating laughing this whole thing off which would be idiotic.  But take a moment now and then to embrace something funny, to share it and to lighten temporarily what could be a long and very different road ahead.

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