Laughter – The Great Weapon Against Anger

St. Gregory of Nazianzus personifed Anger as a wicked friend – someone who is always nearby so quickly summoned into our hearts and minds, and yet someone we shouldn’t want in our lives and should readily expel from our hearts and minds.  He also felt becoming enraged was itself allowing oneself to become possessed by a demon.  The person in a fit of rage behaves as if he or she has lost their mind.  Gregory felt laughter was the best weapon to dispel rage when it wells up within us.   We might imagine all the monkish saints as being austere and humorless, yet Gregory sees laughter as a a medicine, an antidote to anger.  He wrote in one of his poems:

For laughter is the greatest weapon against an assault of rage.

. . .

What then is the mildest of all things? God.

. . .

Otherwise I vow that you, O wicked friend [Anger],

the wretched supporter and protector,

who make men swell up and give them to the gates of Hades,

to submit this day to God and to the Word,

O Anger, you boiling, fullness of homicide,

eminent ugliness of the face, storm of the heart,

drunken gadfly who drive men off cliffs and send them to Tartarus.

O legion of spirits, evil composite,

who tear up bonds and fetters with their shackles, Christ . . .

himself wants you to flee as quickly as possible from here.

Go out and fill the depths of your swine.

They will readily receive you as you cast yourself into the sea.

Depart from all of us who are dear to God.

(Poems on Scripture, p. 119)