Laughter is one of the best things about life and as Robert Frost once said “if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane” and I couldn’t agree more. Laughter is more often a healing balm for a weary heart. And, in some cases, but a slight diversion from the harsh reality that is sometimes representative of our daily lives. Laughter is good for a number of beneficial reasons like: relieving physical tension in your muscles, improving cardiac health by increasing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Some studies have shown that laughter improves your pain threshold and pain perception. Mirth has also been shown to improve sleep, boost immunity, reduce, stress, and improve memory retention among other things.
Humour provides a healthy perspective to problems and brings people together as has been consistently evident with Kenyans on Twitter, cue the CNN hotbed of terror debacle. This is particularly important in building resilience after an attack when affected communities need to rally together and support one another. While there may be nothing to laugh about when it comes to terrorism, the role and importance of humour as a coping mechanism after a scare or an actual attack cannot be overemphasized. Psychotherapist Mark Gorkin avers that, if you can look at something scary and find a way to manipulate the image into something funny, you can assert a control over it, which put simply means that a healthy sense of humour can be of help when dealing with tough times.
Bono in his 2016 address to a US. Senate subcommittee on the Middle East and the refugee crisis, proposed the deployment of comedy in order to take the wind out of terrorist rhetoric. Many may have laughed at his proposal but history vindicates him with many instances where humour was deployed as a weapon dating as far back as the ancient Greeks. In 2006 a satirical show criticizing Hezobollah was briefly aired in Lebanon before being cancelled due to threats to the show’s producer. In 2014, another Kurdish comedy group produced a musical skit that criticized and mocked the Islamic State, ISIS. It served to educate the public on the ills of ISIS and discredit them in the eyes of the public thereby, effectively shrinking the pool of vulnerability for new recruits into terrorism. These are but a few instances where humour has been weaponized against violent extremists and I reckon that using humour against Al-Shabaab is worth giving some real consideration.