The pursuit of joy


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. — —

I believe this snippet of text to be what guides the world as we speak: a proposal that worked so well that one country became hegemonic, one economy game to rule them all and one culture to absorb all the others.

What is it about that sentence above that makes us devout to fulfilling it?

The kind of persuasion which embedded in one country’s constitution effectively created a new power, the power of self evident truths.

Why are these truths self evident? Is it because, at the time, it seemed like a step forward? I am not sufficiently history savvy to say that. Still, I am human enough to feel sensorially that these truths are not even by far self evident.

A lot has been already covered on how we don’t even believe as wishful thinking that all men are created equal. No one really understands this profoundly, and by that I mean viscerally, because we’re craving identities and the validation of them so badly that being equal is a sort of nightmare for our egos. All men lacking egos could be equal. I say could because I don’t lack an ego, so I can’t be sure.

Unalienable rights is down right a lie, by exercising any of power or force anything is alienable.

Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges. Carlin.

Creator given privileges? Only one: high awareness. Endowed rights? None.

But what stands most is the list: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This list sounds like nice-to-haves all business meetings write off at the end of some extenuating hours. This is how you know that government worldwide exists as a moral concession made by the powerful to the many, when they enshrine themselves as a fake guarantee of your option to live and desire to be free.

To me, however, the biggest concern is the last item on the list: happiness.

I believe that by proclaiming the pursuit of happiness as a Creator endowed unalienable right you achieve the greatest, most feasible way to lead a fractured humanity into its own doom.

The unique selling proposition of the United States constitution to sell the land of the free to reproductive material did an amazing job. That is some derisive way to speak about a country which enabled me to use the English language universally, not to mention that I as well as many other semi-millenials whose entire adolescence was in the 1990’s are in debt for the instillment of the brand care and consequence free rebel spirit, so specific in the american way, an american way rooted, after all, in the pursuit of happiness.

But then again, I’m a teenager no more and I know advertising when I see it. Naturally occurring rights are like natural look makeup, you must work really, really hard to look like nothing happened. For anyone feeling endowed and scared of loosing their life, liberty or happiness pursuit, keep a lip up, rest assured there will always be a next version, better formula around: religion, patriotism and consumerism.

I say there are three basic components of living: pleasure, joy and happiness. We all know pleasure. All aware humans know it. Some find joy. But only a special few achieve happiness. You see, happiness is a goal, and as a goal it is completely imaginary.

Happiness is to do the right thing, the right way, while you’re in the right place, at the right time, with the right company and all these while you’re all right.

There’s the problem. Happiness is so special and particular that therefore it is absolutely individual. The pursuit of happiness is individual. Happiness is elusive. That is why consumerism is unavoidable whenever we manage to ignite a boom.

I propose the pursuit of joy.

We need joy in our constitutions. Someone has to consider a common goal of working together to achieve joy at a global scale.

Addiction happens when reason is missing between imagination and will. Obsession is when reality doesn’t mediate between fantasy and action. While pleasure can be a source of trouble because of addiction and happiness a source of stagnation because of obsession, joy is free of all these problems.

Joy, I believe, is the basic state to strive for. As pleasure comes and goes on its own, happiness requires work and attention, joy is closer to us than anything. However, we chase pleasure, pursuit happiness, and pass by joy.

My idea is that politics is the management of life which empowers our survival, economy is the management of survival which empowers our society, while civilization is the management of society which empowers our progress.

Politics(Life) = Survival 
Economy(Survival) = Society
Civilization(Society) = Progress

You see, there is a difference between what a society guarantees and what it works towards. If we’ll guarantee happiness, then we favor the individual, because the pursuit of happiness is individual. Joy is shared and therefore it is communal. If we guarantee joy, then we’ll favor the collective, because the pursuit of joy is collective. What a society guarantees is exactly the thing it does nothing about. I mean, think about it, the only way to make a guarantee is if you absolve yourself of participation. Our faith now is random chance. On the other hand, what a society works towards are all the values and basic truth we all agree about and move to make a reality.

When the society is guided by our rational agent economy we favor the individual over the group. There is the famous Nash group dynamics theory which explains pretty well how fallacious this approach is. In the pursuit of joy we cannot do it individually simply because joy can be experienced only when shared. Putting joy in fundamental laws is a political act.

Politics favoring joy over happiness will yield new economic outlooks on our survival, the economy of sharing which in turn shall give birth to a sharing society. Our current Silicon Valley idioms, in my view, put the cart before the horse.

Who helps the individual? No one. The whole idea is for individuals to help themselves. A society must stay out of the way of the individual, but it should help the common. Therefore we should not consider a society that values individualism as “helping” it, but one that simply stays out of the way.

Joy should be our constitutional aim since just as curiosity is the spearhead of arousal, the same way joy is the piercing nib of meaning with which we’re writing our stories in the book of life.

Not less tax, fewer taxes. Not less government, transparent government. Not pro business, business assistance. Not deregulation, clear regulation.

Alienable privilege

16th November 1963
Every one of us has suffering, and the most important task of our life is to get rid of it. The defilements besiege the mind which, lacking the study of Dharma, is left helpless. They continually scorch the mind with suffering and unless we turn to Dharma it will be consumed throughout this life and on into the next.
Upasika Kee — Directing to self-penetration, re-printed 1985

When you are focused on joy you will eventually recognize the futility of the struggle. The struggle’s epic top is what we call the hustle. The hustle drains out the human’s psyche too soon. Too soon? Yes, because we’re physically built to last a lot longer than we do to mind stressing factors. It is the intellectual energy that we must conserve, not the mere cell power. But we hustle.

The struggle for happiness makes everything too cheap

Everything! Except dental. And going back to Marx, again. I think the pursuit of happiness is what drives all prices down, and before stupor kicks in one hundred percent, bear with me.

I’m serious. Food is too cheap. Money is too cheap. Clothes are too cheap. Travel is too cheap. Talk is too cheap. Sex is too cheap. Sex should be either free or damn expensive. Gas is too cheap and because it is so cheap we have a couple of people working to own the nuclear reactor in the sky.

There is no reason to make things cheap. We rejoice when prices go down like some kind of magic will simply take care of the lost value. When the price of anything goes down it basically means we value that thing less. Cheap prices help products permeate markets but at the same time they do irreversible damage to the concept of value associated with the thing.

We all complain about how much plastic there is in the oceans, yet plastic is so cheap and everything made of plastic is so cheap. Why don’t we factor in the price of getting rid of plastic in the plastic itself? About all countries as of now are part of economic and political unions so getting a common ground on taxing plastic should not be that difficult.

The pursuit of joy keeps value as a common agreement, not a whim of luck.

Everything is cheap because we borrow from the future. This is what the pursuit of happiness does. We borrow heavily as we speak. And this is not some environmentalist piece about saving the planet.

The planet is fine, the people are fucked. G. Carlin.

The poor don’t benefit from cheap things

I live among the poor. This morning someone I know saved 25 cents and waited an extra 15 minutes for a cheaper shuttle to the city. But overall life is cheaper the more rich you get.

First the reacher you are the better you become at not paying taxes, legally. This happens because financial counseling is still way cheaper than full tax accrued by wealth, while for the regular folk there is only one way: just pay. Second, anything that lasts is cheaper on the long run. Third money does buy time, and time is the real richness we should all get.

The poor benefit from opportunity, income, and access. Politics creates opportunity, economy generates income streams and civilization develops access. Without these three things in place all the foundations and NGOs of the world will not move the needle very much.

This is not the way

The abundance of cheap things is not real abundance, it is filling up shelf space and moving garbage at the borders of humanity and into the ocean.

What we think as a healthy normal trend of a free market that drives prices down is the actual value extraction. It is when I can sell you a time limited piece of engineering that I am truly making a lifetime sale. There are things and there are other things. High tech is fast, software can now push one into upgrading, but a light bulb, or age old tools made to be cheap and broken by design? That is exploitation by means of productivity.

This is a start

Does a philosophical problem bear any resemblance to an actual solution? Does simply the way we think about (of) a problem bring us closer to solving it, or at least come up with better solutions? In a world swamped with data can simple, clear thinking offer better insights, I wonder.

How does politics define happiness? Who are the happiness teachers of the world? The self, religion, politics, everyone else. The self is the only one teaching about real, true happiness, all the rest are a lottery of false happiness promises.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”.

Be cheerful. That is what a society is for. Strive to be happy. That is what you are here for.


P.S. There are lots of “I”s in this article. This is intentional and it is not a form of self aggrandizing, like I found the ultimate answer or anything, it is simply because this is a statement, a proposal and it is meant not to sell, but to explain. I know lots of people are allergic to reading “I” followed by sweeping remarks or postulations, so this note was required.

Love me, I dare you,

A

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