The inauguration of Barrack Obama was an historic occasion.
His speech was very moving and I am sure it will go down in history alongside those made by other great leaders such as
JFK and Martin Luther King.
However, one phrase which he used jumped out at me and made me a little disappointed about what was otherwise
a great piece of oration.
"The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift,
that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and
all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
What am I disappointed about? I think that the phrase 'the pursuit of happiness' shows a fundamental misunderstanding or,
if you have a little less trust in the essential goodness of people than I do, you might consider it deliberately misleading.
Why should people only have the right to the pursuit of happiness? Surely it would be much better if they had the right
to the attainment of happiness. What use is the right to the pursuit of it?
"I'd like some happiness, please."
"Ha! Sorry, mate, we can't give you happiness. We do have a bit of it out the back though. We can let you chase after it
for a while if you like, but you can't actually have it. Where would be the fun in that?"
I have read some opinions which argue that this was very deliberate wording, that governments don't want people to actually
attain happiness. If all the people actually attained happiness, there would be no need for government.
I like to live in a world where such sinister machinations do not take place, and therefore I choose to take the view that
this is just a misunderstanding about the nature of happiness.
Happiness cannot be pursued. It isn't round the corner, or in the distance. It can't be caught up with by making more money,
buying more things, gaining more status, fitting in or finding that 'perfect' partner any more than it can be caught up with by
taking alcohol or drugs. Happiness is a choice. It is a decision and anyone in any position or circumstance can make that
decision right where they are without 'pursuing' anything at all. Indeed, the act of pursuing is very likely to prevent them
from doing what they need to do to attain happiness, which is look inside and change their thoughts and beliefs about life.
It puts me in mind of someone trying to pick up water by grasping at it. The water continually eludes them until they relax,
cup their hand receptively and simply allow the water to fill it.
Happiness is a choice you can make right now. Choose to love peepl (sic). Choose to be magnificent. Choose daily acts of
kindness towards your fellow human beings.
No pursuit is necessary. Just stay right where you are, relax and open your heart.
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