Well, Laughter Yogurt probably does not exist. I received an email from Dr. Andrew Weil, MD., and the subject line, which I misread, actually read “Laughter Yoga.” Okay. I can live with the idea of Laughter Yoga, though I would confess that yogurt is more to my taste than yoga. So I’m a vitamin freak, as we used to say, and Dr. Weil is one of the guys I read occasionally.
Sunday my wife did not go to church because Mexico was playing Argentina in the World Cup and she was going to stay in bed and watch it. I said it was going to be a sad day in Mexico. She didn’t laugh. I was going to make coffee, as I do every morning, and asked if I could bring her coffee to her in bed. She said she would like that. “It’s going to be a sad day,” I said. I asked her if she would like a handkerchief. She said no. She would use the sheets. What a woman. In the end, Mexico lost three to one.
I’m always struck by the folk on television who talk about how in America you can be anything you want. The Glen Beck -- Shawn Hannity folk. American patriots. All you have to do is dream it, to work, to strive for it. About sixteen centuries ago a school of Chinese intellectuals challenged that idea, suggesting that no matter how much you dream of it, work and strive for it, you could not become even a dog. I’m probably somewhere in the middle there.
Of course, the Chinese were talking about life.
And then, speaking of the Chinese: Mencius is thought to have written about the goodness of man four centuries before Christ, a point of view that I have never paid close attention to. “If today men suddenly see a child about to fall into a well, they will without exception experience a feeling of alarm and distress. This will not be as a way whereby to gain the favor of the child’s parents, nor whereby they may seek the praise of their neighbors and friends, nor are they so because they dislike the reputation [of being unvirtuous].” That is, in the first instance, Man is by nature fundamentally good.
I was struck by this passage, it seemed right to me, that in the first instance that is how we would react to seeing a child in danger. The brain was picturing a Chinese child more than two thousand years ago perched on the edge of a well, about to tumble over. And then, faster than a speeding bullet, the brain replaced that image with that of me on the balcony of the hotel in Los Angeles that evening in 1979 when I first heard of Robert Faurisson and his views about the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The purpose of the brain in recalling that image, the recollection of which I personally played no role, appears to have been to suggest that my reaction to the Faurisson article that evening 30 years ago originated in innocence, that it was not intended to gain favor, or praise, or to appear virtuous. It was to suggest that my response was spontaneous, without thought, without desire.
So -- it’s not my fault then.