Friday, November 6, 2009

A Sense Of The Ridiculous Is What Makes Us Human

For the past few days I have been at home with a cold / flu, and it has given me time to think. That can be a dangerous thing, when I have idle time on my hands. All sorts of strange ideas meander through my head. Last night as I was contemplating the ceiling life, I suddenly thought, "What are we? What is our purpose?" When you think about it, we are strange creatures -- really, we are just a series of tubes. Stuff goes in, and stuff goes out, and once a day we go unconscious for several hours. But in addition to that, we contain something unique to us -- the human spirit. The scientific definition of spirit is the property of intelligence that drives it to adapt the environment. As a group, civilization develops when several individuals develop the human spirit together. When the results of the human spirit are successful, the consequence is progress. Without the human spirit, our species would become extinct.

But, what is that special something that makes us human, beyond the human spirit? According to science, we share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, and yet there is a universe of difference between us. Two things that make us human are laughter and weeping. No other mammal does these things. Some animals do make a sound that mimics (apes) laughter, but it is not humorous laughter. Only human beings are unique in that we have been given the gift of humor. Some folks believe this was part of the evolutionary process, as we climbed out of the primordial soup. Others believe we are God's creatures and laughter was a gift to us. Whatever it is, we need to do more of it. It may just be my imagination, but everyone seems to be so serious, and so sad these days -- full of stress and angst. People are worried about wars, recession, pandemics, finances, unemployment, homelessness -- all creations of the human condition. We need to get back to our sense of the ridiculous.

George Carlin was able to see the absurdity in every aspect of the human condition. Here he is doing one of my favorite routines. Even if you don't like sports, you'll love "Football versus Baseball". Have a chuckle... you deserve it.

20 comments:

DUTA said...

Sometimes we hear the cliche: "The same red blood runs through our veins" - so true , and yet so meaningless. The animals have also the same red blood.

It's the brain that is meningful and it is the workings of the brain that makes us different from the animals, and different from one another as individuals and as groups. It is the brain that creates the human spirit and the laughter and everything else. It's this piece of machinery that makes us unique.

Judi said...

Whatever the origin, laughter is indeed the best. This Carlin routine is also one of my favorites, although I've not heard it in its entirety until now. Big laugh!

Nancy said...

I think laughter is truly "the best medicine." We are indeed a stressed out group - especially where I live. But change is in the air. Call it the Collective Unconscious or whatever, but I think there is always stress and strain before big movements in societies.

George Carlin was one of a kind.

Alissa said...

Thanks for the chuckle. I used to work at an events venue and we had George Carlin perform one evening. Before the show a coworker and I had gone in to use the ladies room. We were in the stalls when we could clearly hear George Carlin come into the bathroom. My coworker shouted out from her stall, "This is the ladies room!" George Carlin shouted back "What ladies? All I see is a bunch of cows!"

Hope you are feeling better soon, Jo.

TomCat said...

According to science, we share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, and yet there is a universe of difference between us.

That just proves the theory of devolution. If we work really hard at it, we can catch up. ;-)

Alicia said...

Thanks for the laugh Jo! I love George Carlin as well and I hadn't heard this routine. It's so true. Have a great weekend.

PhilipH said...

Very funny vid Jo. I know nowt about baseball and probably less about American football, but the Mr. Carlin put it over very well indeed.

What makes us human is a sense of the ridiculous. Yep, I've lived by that code and creed for much of my life. Ridiculous could be my middle name. Probably is, but I've forgotten whether I have a middle name ...

jackc50 said...

great post jo......if you can laugh at yourself then everything else just falls in place. carlin was a genius. it's an overused word but it did fit him. here's another fine quote, i'm paraphrasing now...''whenever a true genius appears in the world you will know him by this, all the dunces will be in confederation against him''. hope you are feeling better soon, jack

Russell said...

I show this video clip to my students when the baseball playoffs and football are going on at the same time. We always enjoy it.

I agree with those before me that Carlin was quite gifted. He even made a good railroad conductor!

Pauline said...

""We may confidently believe that laughter, as a sign of pleasure or enjoyment, was practiced by our progenitors long before they deserved to be called human," wrote Darwin, who believed that human beings inherited some of our emotions from our animal ancestors."
(http://www.physorg.com/news176658273.html)

My cat laughs, mostly at me. My dog used to do the same. We may be the only mammal we know of that sheds tears to express sorrow but I have a feeling animals laugh at us more than we know.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Laughter is good for the soul. It is also good for our physical bodies.... good for lung expansion, iheard the other day that happy people have lower cholesterol. That may be pushing it, but I have been known to clear my sinuses with a good snort of whatever flying out my nose with laughter.... who needs a neti pot?

noteither said...

"A Sense Of The Ridiculous Is What Makes Us Human" and being able to blog also makes us human :) and that is just one of the millions things humans can do that chimpz can't. great post!

A.M. said...

I've been feeling this way lately too, and with mediation, prayer and staying strong with my faith...I finally have realized that I'm doing it to myself. Of course, people can try to make my journey in life difficult BUT I have the choice whether or not I'm going to be happy in life, and laughter is the best medicine. Thanks for you post, and I loveeeeeeeeeeeeeee your new painting!!!

nomore said...

I think there're( in the Universe ) so many houses and rooms in the world right now...I have 5 computers in my house and 3 computers in my room. You'd better think it as the human is a Super computer while the Chimpanzee is only a 8 Bit computer...Take care from the Flu...and think it more simply to.....Have a nice weekend...Once I love to read the book "Cosmos"...

Carla said...

I hope you're feeling better now, Jo.

Love, love, love the George Carlin video clip!

Kimberly said...

In my world - my dogs laugh with & cry with me.

JeannetteLS said...

No one quite like Carlin... I think laughter has gotten a group of us through this life more than anything else. Sometimes people accuse others of using laughter to mask pain, but I don't think that's usually the case... not when it is belly laughing. Then I think we are using it to DEAL with pain and to minimize its impact. As always, thoughtful and fun at the same time, you NON-writer, you.

The Bug said...

This video perfectly explains why I like baseball over football - I much prefer my walk in the park!

Marguerite said...

George Carlin is a riot! As you know, I love to laugh and have fun! Laughing, dancing, dining, going to festivals and gatherings are part of everyday life in Cajun Country. It's a lifestyle that has been passed down for many generations through the Cajun food, the Cajun music, and the Cajun people. I think it's all in how you look at life and what you think about the most, that determines each person's reality.
Hope you're feeling better, Jo!

Paula Slade said...

George Carlin was a great comic! Thanks for the giggles Jo! Hope you are feeling better!!