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Let's Learn to Laugh and Regain our Sense of Humor

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AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Next weekend is Mother's Day, which of course reminds me of my mother, Jackie Battley Gingrich, who died in 2013. So forgive me if I spend the next two weeks writing about her -- and why her views still matter to me. She was a polio survivor, finished college in three years (the first in her family to do so); she was a math major at Auburn University at a time when few women were studying mathematics; and she was strong-willed and funny.


She went on to teach mathematics to high school kids in the public school system in Carrollton, Georgia. She was named teacher of the year and she earned STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) status several times.

She loved her family, my sister, myself, our husbands and her grandchildren, with a fierce, passionate love. She would do anything for them and anything to be with them. After decades of teaching, she retired, just before I had my first child, so she could have more time to help us out and more time to be with her grandchild.

After I had my second child less than two years later, she often stayed with us to help out. She would get up early and ask my husband how he would like his eggs cooked -- happy to spoil us all. She seemed to soak up every minute she could spend with family.

One of my most fond memories is of a Mother's Day about 15 years ago when she was at brunch with my husband and our children, and a former student of hers, Jim Borders. Jim, who is now president and CEO of Novare Group, a real estate investment and development company based in Atlanta, rushed over when he saw her to say hello and thank her for teaching him math.

Before taking her class, he had neither liked nor done well in math. But he excelled in her class, went on to graduate from Georgia Tech and founded what turned out to be a very successful development company. My mom believed that everyone could do math -- if they just worked at it. He was not the only former student to sing her praises.


Years ago, I asked my mother what character traits she would like to pass along to my two children. She replied, "I want them both to have a sense of humor; you've got to have a sense of humor to survive."

She would be glad to know that they both do. Alas, they appear to be the exception. I've noticed that we, as a society, appear to have very little in the sense of humor department. We take so many things too seriously, while taking very serious things (national security, national debt) not seriously at all.

Recently, I ran across a video commercial by Jeremy Boreing, the co-founder and self-proclaimed "lowercase god-king" of the Daily Wire. In it, he pitched buying Jeremy's Razors instead of Harry's Razors. Harry's used to advertise on the Daily Wire but pulled its support over the Daily Wire's stance on gender. Jeremy's Razors is a new startup competing directly with Harry's.

As the website says under their story tab, "Harry's (Razors) and Daily Wire had a deal. They paid us. We advertised their razors. We did this for years, with the clear understanding that Harry's can leave at any time, for any reason. But after they left us for saying that boys are boys and girls are girls, it was too much for them ... They said the views you hear on our programs -- whether you agree with them or not -- are 'inexcusable,' and dropped their ads on our network due to 'misaligned values.' They tried to shame you for the unforgivable sin of not adhering to their woke platitudes du jour."


Jeremy's pitch: "Harry's and their ilk don't want you in their world -- but I want you in mine. So stop giving your money to corporations that hate you. Give it to me instead." At least he is direct and to the point.

The commercial itself is a ridiculous parody. It includes a sports car that almost runs over someone, leggy women with low-cut dresses and musclebound men with no shirts on. No doubt, many will find it offensive. But the questions I ask are: Can we find humor even in things we don't agree with? Can we laugh at ourselves, take ourselves a little less seriously?

Life is short, and laughter brings us together. Find someone you disagree with and share a laugh with them. It will bring you closer and make the world a bit better.


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