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The Pursuit of Happiness - Abadoss' Mind
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Thu, Jul. 7th, 2005 03:38 pm
The Pursuit of Happiness

What is the "pursuit of happiness"? In the Declaration of Independence, that was one thing that was listed as one of Americans' undeniable rights. However, the term has been so widely used and wholely misinterpretted for two-hundred and twenty-nine years. What does the "pursuit of happiness mean"?

I suppose before trying to discover what it means for me, I should look into what it meant for those that wrote it. When the signing of the Declaration of Independence, people spoke a different language than we do now. It was still called English and a lot of the words meant the same things they do now. However, the ways in which ideas and concepts were communicated were much different than that of our so-called modern ways. Their language is so displaced from our own that the only time you ever see it is in old text books and original documents of the time. We, the People, have lost that art of communication.

The "pursuit of happiness" is based mostly on the idea of what "happiness" means. Happiness is most often defined as an emotional state of contentment or joy. However, for the founding fathers, this wouldn't necessarily have been the case. "Happiness", for them, would have stood for a wholistic sense of peace and harmony within the fabric of society. It was meant to mean that the country would support the well-being and livelihood of its citizens.

For me, the term "happiness" means a little bit more. I believe that the term is far more than an emotional or social goal, but rather a very personal one. I believe "happiness" to be the fulfillment of one's potential for life. This is not to be confused with the hedonistic view of fulfillment, which suggest that pleasure is fulfillment. Rather, fulfillment is growing as a human being, taking the challenges that stretch the capabilities of one's mind and skill, and acting in the best interest of all humanity.

Yes, I'm an idealist and I know that there is no end to a pursuit of fulfillment, but I think that's the point. Fulfillment isn't something that one can achieve, it must be something that one does.

I believe fulfillment and success are interrelated. Success is often measured by what one acquires, even though that's hardly a good place to determine value. Success is like a city on the horizon, that never moves any closer as one continues towards it. However, the important part is not that one never reaches it, but rather that one is travelling in the right direction. I think humanity only progresses when it's oriented in the right direction. Otherwise, it just decays.

So, looking at today's society, it's not difficult to notice that there's not a whole lot of balance, harmony, or peace. I think a lot of it is due to this misinterpretation and misuse of the phrase "pursuit of happiness". I believe that people are meant to find out what "happiness" personally means for themselves, but I think not looking at all is not acceptable. Taking the phrase at face value is not enough.

Just a thought...

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rosemilk
rosemilk
The Childlike Empress
Fri, Jul. 8th, 2005 07:08 pm (UTC)

One might also keep in mind that that line originally read "life, liberty, or property," and still appears that way in the constitution. Given that, the current state of things and the general interpretation of this instance of the word happiness as used by Americans is totally unsurprising.


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