Imagine a tombstone. My tombstone. What if it were to read:
Here lies Megali. She was happy.
|Jan Kotěra [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Did God give us the right to pursue a good time? Don't get me wrong-happiness is a wonderful emotion and a state to be desired. But is that what our founders really intended to be the pursuit of our country and its people-to be happy? Let's put it this way: How would you like your tombstone to read, ‘Here lies [your name]. He/she was happy'? Count me out! Isn't life supposed to be more significant than that? Let's face it-many of life's pleasures are not even good for us, as my waistline constantly reminds me.As one of the commenters, cassibearRAWR, notes at the end of the Jezebel article, one of our founding fathers did actually have something to say about God and his interest in our happiness:
Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.
-Ben FranklinUm, also, "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." So, yeah. Look, of course not all things that make people happy are legal, nor should they be. And I can easily see how one might argue Santorum's position, even though I vehemently disagree. PolitiFact clearly argues why I see it as a "mostly false" notion.
T[hree historians] agreed Santorum was right in the sense that " ‘pursuit of happiness’ is the pursuit of fulfillment in a wider sense than immediate gratification," said Jan Lewis, a history professor at Rutgers University at Newark who wrote the encyclopedia entry.My greatest hope for my sons, above success in whatever way they define the word, above even kindness and thoughtfulness, is that they facilitate a sense of happiness in themselves and others most of their lives (with what is an obvious caveat to me - they can't hurt people, animals, or things to achieve happiness.) And I don't see anything wrong with that. We get this one life on Earth. Why shouldn't we enjoy it (in a legal and moral way)?
That’s relatively consistent with Santorum’s claim that happiness "was not doing what you want to do." But Santorum’s claim that to the founders it instead meant "doing what you ought to do" lands him on the wrong side of history, experts said.
That’s a puritanical definition out of line with the world of Jefferson.
"It wasn't a sense of obligation. It wasn't a sense of oughtness. Rather, it was a more expansive sense of property," Lewis said. "... I guess the closest we could say is ‘well-being,’ being well-situated, being fulfilled."
And Jefferson may not have been referring to individual happiness at all, she said — a point of debate among scholars. He may have been writing about a general sense of social well-being, a good standard of living — not about individual desire or duty.
"It wasn't an individualist, libertine happiness or individualist pleasure-seeking," she said. "But it wasn't a sense of duty."
A little while ago, I watched a movie that illustrates what life looks like when enjoying life isn't possible, and it isn't exactly pretty. Well, that's not entirely true - it is cinematically stunning and the. Melancholia was directed by controversial director Lars von Trier. It's haunting. The characters are terribly unlikeable. When their vulnerability is so bluntly laid open, it grows exhausting to care about their fate. What a rather apt depiction of being the loved one of someone suffering from depression or other mental illness. It is the realistic, pessimistic portrayal of how depression sucks the spirit out of the depressed and their family that is un-pretty.
Kirsten Dunst's character tries to explain her emotional struggle to Charlotte Gainsbourg, the woman playing her sister, “I’m trudging through this gray wooly yarn, it's clinging to my legs. It’s really heavy to drag along.” < THAT! Yes! That, in one sentence, is nearly a perfect description of what my depression can be like. Just add that I grow apathetic about the yarn, that I no longer want to have to trudge along, and that I imagine ceasing existence (not dying, just not being, and there is a distinction for me) to be the preferable course of action.
As Will Leitch puts it in his review, Melancholia documents "how she destroys everything around her and feels nothing ... and hates herself for it." It's not just me that depression destroys, it is my husband, my sons, it was and is my parents, and my sister, and my brothers. I don't want that; I've never wanted to hurt them.
Is it any wonder then, that I would love to die having experienced happiness frequently enough to warrant listing on my grave marker?