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On the Beauty of Humor

Taken from the book:
"The Promise of Virtue" by
Eugene Hemrick
Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN pp.152


Why is humor considered a virtue? Because the virtue of kindness requires a sense of humor to practice it effectively. Romano Guardini tells us why this is so.

One other thing is required by kindness, something of which we rarely speak a sense of humor. It helps us to endure things more easily. Indeed we could hardly get along without it. The person who sees [someone] only seriously, only morally or pedagogically, cannot endure him [or her] for any great length of time. We must have an eye for the oddity of existence. Everything human has something comic about it. The more pompously a [person] acts, the greater is the comic element. A sense of humor means that we take [a person] seriously and strive to help him [or her], but suddenly see how odd he [or she] is, and laugh, even though it be only inwardly. A friendly laugh at the oddity of all human affairs that is humor. It helps us to be kind, for after a good laugh it is easier to be serious again. . .

Humor is not only a type of energy or an intellectual way of coping with life's oddities, but it is also a spirit. We describe those who have humor as having good spirits. They are people blessed with an enthusiasm for the lighter side of life, who know how to use it to fend off its darker side. . . .

The strength of humor is especially inspiring in people who have suffered the loss of a dear one, a job, or much of their belongings, and yet never lose humor. Despite being devastated, they somehow find it in themselves to crack a joke and through a simple laugh to model a firmest of spirit that exudes awesome energy and faith.