Last night I asked my students to write about their memories surrounding a public event such as September 11th, the Challenger explosion, the 35W bridge collapse, or other event. The writing was raw and tender. Most people linked the public event with an intensely personal one. Overall, the mood dropped as we discussed these life-altering events and memories. In the midst of this darkness, however, a few writers read a funny line or a surprising anecdote. The class's laughter was tentative and then overt. We needed to laugh, to smile. It reminded me about the importance of letting off some steam, opening the pressure valve in writing, the importance of balance.
Balance is something lacking in our political/social culture right now and so it's good to remember this even if it's just on the page.