“Do as little harm to others as you can; make any sacrifice for your true friends; be responsible for yourself and ask nothing of others; and grab all the fun you can. Don’t give much thought to yesterday, don’t worry about tomorrow, live in the moment, and trust that your existence has meaning even when the world seems to be all blind chance and chaos. When life lands a hammer blow in your face, do your best to respond to the hammer as if it had been a cream pie. Sometimes black humor is the only kind we can summon, but even dark laughter can sustain."
I ran across the quote above from horror writer Dean Koontz the other day and I loved it and wanted to share it here. It speaks to black (a.k.a. dark) humor’s value toward the end and I like it specifically for that reason. Dark humor often emerges in emergency management arenas – particularly in the areas of response and recovery. It is used as a coping mechanism, but it is often so difficult to explain to those outside the field. The ultimate point of dark humor is not whatever the humor happens to focus on, but instead the laughter it produces.
As someone said to me yesterday, and you may have often said yourself, "better laughing than crying." Laughter is healing and you don’t have to take my word for it – check out the research. It tells us that laughter affects human physiology by reducing pain, strengthening immune function and decreasing stress. Plus, it impacts intellectual and emotional functioning by helping create perspective in relation to life’s trials and tribulations, helping overcome fear, allowing us to take ourselves less seriously and triggering creativity. And on top of it all – it is free. What is not to love about laughter??
In looking at the benefits of laughter yo can understand why it is so critical in emergency management – even if the humor is dark and incomprehensible to others – it creates the desired effect – laughter. And trust me, you want the folks working on response and recovery to horrendous events to be able to laugh for all the beneficial reasons above. "Better laughing than crying" is indeed the message of the day in some of these events as we know that the magnitude of the damage and the despair can be soul crushing…and laughter, we know even without psychological research, is good for the soul.
Day three hundred and seventy-nine of the new forty – obla di obla da