I am a subscriber to the New Philosopher Magazine and I like it tremendously. Articles of the magazine are getting a mention on their Face Book page and they are then being discussed.
The publishers of the magazine think that “Happiness” is an important subject to discuss, because most people strive for it. In their striving for “Happiness” people overlook the fact, that their real motivation in life is “Fear”. Life becomes a struggle and there is not much to be happy about.
I think, “Happiness” in an imperfect world is almost impossible to be achieved and since we, we humans that is, are an imperfect lot we rather tend to destroy other people’s “Happiness” if we can’t have it ourselves.
The other day they quoted Edgar Alan Poe (Edgar Allan Poe, from New Philosopher magazine issue #3 “Happiness”):
“I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active – not more happy, nor more wise – than he was 6,000 years ago.”
Edgar Allan Poe was right of course. When the enlightenment came people thought it was the age of reason. But today, as 6,000 years ago and before, fear is running our lives. Reason is only a tool, not more, we can use it to counter fear, but not many can see through the fog of fear. The most we fear is “the others”. We think “the others” will devour us.
Here in Australia we regard boats as the vehicles in which those “Others” arrive, like aliens from outer space, arrive at our shores. Everything bad, we can imagine, they bring to our shores. The fear of others even gave us a government we really should fear though.
Climate change we should fear, but no, we fear the costs of electricity. People who live on an island always fear the arrival of “Others”. And we know why ! We are guilt ridden and fear that someone will come, like Mr Putin, and ask for their island back. Fear runs our lives the same as it ran the lives of Neanderthals, who were sitting in their caves and feared the arrival of Homo sapiens. New arrivals always have a little bit less fear because they are motivated by a possible future less fearful than the present. This is called “Hope”!
You remember the Vikings? They gave us the fear of God as we cowered in our little villages in England. The Vikings did not fear death, as by dying on the battle field they would go straight to Valhalla. Their fear was not to die on the battlefield.
So fear runs our lives. We fear the power of the stock market, the collapse of the housing market but not that young families can’t afford a home. I wish we all could be a bit more stoical about life on Earth.
No wonder we are all so concerned with this elusive “happiness”? We need it to balance our “Fear”. “Happiness” is being discussed since the ancient Greeks and probably before that. In any case, it is not a feeling of permanency; more a fleeting moment. It is hidden, somewhere, like the “G” spot and we can’t pin it down. It is more like a beautiful butterfly we can sometimes hold in our hands before it disappears again in the blue yonder. If we try to catch it and keep it, it will wither.
It is like a subatomic particle that registers only for a nano of a fraction of a second. If we humans experience it, it shows up as a smile in the face of a lucky person, most likely a child who hasn’t learnt to fear yet It can be infectious and it jumps from face to face till it appears again to where it came from.
But please, don’t perpetuate this moment of Happiness. It is with us, but only as a visitor.