We Hold These Truths: The Pursuit 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.

This line is the start of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence of “the thirteen United States of America”. It is well-known to most Americans and serves as an inspiration to others around the world. However, the last four words are misunderstood in the 21st century. The Pursuit of Happiness did not mean chasing after the emotion or the feeling of being “happy”. To the Founders, this term meant living your life as you saw fit. It was about shaping your own destiny, instead of having that destiny shaped for you. That is a high ideal an imperfect nation does not always achieve for its people.

By many measures, Americans today report less happiness than in the past. Here we are most clearly talking about the emotion. There are those studies regarding happiness. One, for example, shows parents have less overall happiness than non-parents. Another one I like shows happiness drops in our mid-20s and then starts to go back up in our mid-50s. At 51, that sounds pretty good to me. Sorry for all you younger folks.

Many people focus on being unhappy. They are anxious and miserable. Social media does not help. We have often violated the Tenth Commandment: You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s Goods. This is even worse in a world of social media, where not only do we see the great house others live in, but we also get to see their fantastic vacations and lives that at least appear to be so much perfect than our own. This means that often we chase happiness by focusing on the acquisition of things, such as money, power, and material items. When we get that new car, we are happier than before. At least for a while. Then we get used to the car and the increased positive feelings fade away. Then it is on to the next thing. And then the next. The unhappy reality is that none of us can maintain a sense of happiness by chasing after things. We just get used to them.

What does work in life is the practice of gratitude. That is not saying, “You should be grateful”. No one can tell someone else how he or she should feel. The practice of gratitude is a practice of self-care. What science has shown is that by zeroing in on the positive things in our lives we experience more happiness and joy. What a concept! It is just that our brains tend to focus on the negative to keep us safe. It is difficult to practice gratitude.

So, how do we engage in this practice? That is surprisingly simple. One great way is to write down three things for which you are grateful. Just three, and you can even have repeats. Some of the biggies can be easy, such as family and health. But those of us living in the first world have all sorts of things to think about. Did you have a hot shower today in clean water? Did you have enough to eat today? Were you able to park far away from the store and be able to walk the distance instead of having to use that closer handicapped spot?

Each of us has so many positive things in our lives we can list. I promise you, if you can practice gratitude, you will have a greater sense of wellbeing.

It might even help in your Pursuit of Happiness.

Bryan is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and National Certified Counselor (NCC). He has been licensed since June 2000. He is also involved in training new therapists as a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor (CPCS) since 2011. He earned his Bachelor of Science in 1992 from Florida Tech, and his Master of Arts in Psychology from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology in 1996. Bryan started as a case manager before becoming a therapist, working in community behavioral health, where he practiced as part of a multidisciplinary team consisting of other therapists, case managers, nurses, and doctors. It was in this environment where he learned to treat the large variety of issues brought to the clinic by a diverse population. Bryan currently has a private practice in Marietta Georgia, seeing adults. 

This was originally published at www.TalkForward.com

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    This is my entry for the Group Writing: We Hold These Truths Group Writing

     

     

     

    • #1
  2. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Bryan G. Stephens: So, how do we engage in this practice? That is surprisingly simple. One great way is to write down three things for which you are grateful. Just three, and you can even have repeats. Some of the biggies can be easy, such as family and health. But those of us living in the first world have all sorts of things to think about. Did you have a hot shower today in clean water?  Did you have enough to eat today? Were you able to park far away from the store and be able to walk the distance instead of having to use that closer handicapped spot?

    Does this have long-term effects on happiness? I can imagine studies that suggest a temporary uptick in happiness but people so often tend to go back to their baseline personality. Anti-depressants for example, may make people less anxious but they tend to revert to the tyranny of their genetic predisposition. 

    • #2
  3. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    The pursuit of happiness by an individual is what makes individuals happy. This is not a group activity.

    • #3
  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Begin by being eternally grateful that you were born in the Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth, the United States of America. 

    • #4
  5. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    The problem is that most people’s happiness lies in making others submit to their will.

    • #5
  6. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Begin by being eternally grateful that you were born in the Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth, the United States of America.

    Saying that is good and true but how do you permanently alter the state of your feelz even when you rationally know that you should be happy? 

    • #6
  7. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Begin by being eternally grateful that you were born in the Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth, the United States of America.

    Saying that is good and true but how do you permanently alter the state of your feelz even when you rationally know that you should be happy?

    One thing that helps individuals accomplish this naturally is when they produce offspring and have a family which then engenders a permanent pursuit of happiness.  This is probably the easiest path for such an outcome. Artistic pursuits often engender a passion that then result in a pursuit but also often is a difficult and troubled path. There are many such paths but, in my estimation, none will quite match the family for most people.

    • #7
  8. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    The problem is that most people’s happiness lies in making others submit to their will.

    Numerically that won’t work. Additionally, while forcing others to submit to your will is a universal human flaw throughout societies, are you sure that 51% of people are like that? I think that you might have overstated your case. 

    • #8
  9. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Begin by being eternally grateful that you were born in the Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth, the United States of America.

    Saying that is good and true but how do you permanently alter the state of your feelz even when you rationally know that you should be happy?

    I don’t know that one can achieve a permanent state of happiness in this life, but when I am distracted from my happiness by current circumstances, I remind myself to remember all of the things in my life that I have to be thankful for. That inevitably lifts the cloud.

    • #9
  10. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    The problem is that most people’s happiness lies in making others submit to their will.

    Numerically that won’t work. Additionally, while forcing others to submit to your will is a universal human flaw throughout societies, are you sure that 51% of people are like that? I think that you might have overstated your case.

    You alway do think I over state my case and you are usually wrong in that assumption.  You think people are much better than they actually are.

    • #10
  11. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    This is helpful: 

    The idea of the pursuit of happiness as a natural right emerged in the 1700s among the “moral-sense” philosophers, many of the Scottish Enlightenment, who recognized the innate desire in mankind for good or blessedness versus evil in one’s life.  Scottish Enlightenment thinker Francis Hutcheson had described man’s desire for good as a right to pursue it.  He stated in his 1747 Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy that “the several rights of mankind are…first made known by the natural feelings of their hearts, and their natural desires, pursuing such things as tend to the good of each individual or those dependent on him, and recommending to all certain virtuous offices.”[1]  Swiss theorist Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, aligning with such Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, saw mankind’s universal desire for good or blessedness versus evil in life as a desire for happiness.  Consequently, he was the first philosopher to articulate the pursuit of happiness as a God-given, natural human right.  As all desire happiness, he asserted in his 1748 Principles of Natural Law, all have a natural, God-given right to pursue and acquire happiness.  He explains,

    God, by creating us, proposed our preservation, perfection, and happiness.  This is what manifestly appears by the faculties with which man is enriched (which all tend to the same end) as well as by the strong inclination that prompts us to pursue good and shun evil.  God is therefore willing that everyone should labor for his own preservation and perfection in order to acquire all the happiness of which he is capable according to his nature and state.[2]

    English jurist William Blackstone and German jurist Samuel Pufendorf more specifically believed that a person’s happiness is found in his or her relationship with God, in honoring and living by God’s universal moral law, the Law of Nature and God, which tells us that man should love and respect God and others, harm no one, live honestly, and render to everyone his due.  Man’s obedience to God’s moral law, they essentially held, gives him a sense of well-being.  In his 1765 Commentaries on the Laws of England, Blackstone states that God has “so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former.  If the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter.”[3]  Blackstone basically aligned with Pufendorf on the matter.  Pufendorf states in his 1703 Of the Law of Nature and Nations that “by order of the Divine Providence it so falls out, that by a natural consequence our happiness flows from such actions as are agreeable to the Law of Nature, and our misery from such as are repugnant to it.”[4]

    • #11
  12. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Begin by being eternally grateful that you were born in the Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth, the United States of America.

    Saying that is good and true but how do you permanently alter the state of your feelz even when you rationally know that you should be happy?

    I don’t know that one can achieve a permanent state of happiness in this life, but when I am distracted from my happiness by current circumstances, I remind myself to remember all of the things in my life that I have to be thankful for. That inevitably lifts the cloud.

    In my humble opinion, the family gets one closest to the permanent state. It is amazing sometimes to observe how much misfortune can be visited on a family and yet the bonds still hold.

    • #12
  13. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    The problem is that most people’s happiness lies in making others submit to their will.

    Numerically that won’t work. Additionally, while forcing others to submit to your will is a universal human flaw throughout societies, are you sure that 51% of people are like that? I think that you might have overstated your case.

    You alway do think I over state my case and you are usually wrong in that assumption. You think people are much better than they actually are.

    If people were as bad as you think they are, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that things would be worse than they are? I look out my window and people are polite and productive. Additionally, you CTlaw and possibly Bryan G. Stephens are the only people who are more misanthropic than myself on Ricochet. Now I am in no position to criticize folks for having a minority opinions, but why do you think that you are right and everyone else on Ricochet is wrong in their assessment of human nature? 

    I think that everyone who disagrees with my beliefs about genetics wrong because people don’t want to believe in how limited humans are by their genes. I can understand that. It’s a really depressing belief but with alot of data supporting. Additionally, it’s not an intuitive worldview.  

    Why do you think everyone else on Ricochet is far too sunny with regard to human nature? 

     

    • #13
  14. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Begin by being eternally grateful that you were born in the Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth, the United States of America.

    Saying that is good and true but how do you permanently alter the state of your feelz even when you rationally know that you should be happy?

    I don’t know that one can achieve a permanent state of happiness in this life, but when I am distracted from my happiness by current circumstances, I remind myself to remember all of the things in my life that I have to be thankful for. That inevitably lifts the cloud.

    In my humble opinion, the family gets one closest to the permanent state. It is amazing sometimes to observe how much misfortune can be visited on a family and yet the bonds still hold.

    A healthy family Bob. Families can be utter pits of despair as well as a superb podcast recently illustrated. 

    • #14
  15. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Begin by being eternally grateful that you were born in the Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth, the United States of America.

    Saying that is good and true but how do you permanently alter the state of your feelz even when you rationally know that you should be happy?

    I don’t know that one can achieve a permanent state of happiness in this life, but when I am distracted from my happiness by current circumstances, I remind myself to remember all of the things in my life that I have to be thankful for. That inevitably lifts the cloud.

    In my humble opinion, the family gets one closest to the permanent state. It is amazing sometimes to observe how much misfortune can be visited on a family and yet the bonds still hold.

    A healthy family Bob. Families can be utter pits of despair as well as a superb podcast recently illustrated.

    Well, yes, but that despair is a product that results from the very absence of what is the premise under discussion here, individual liberty. No?

    • #15
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: So, how do we engage in this practice? That is surprisingly simple. One great way is to write down three things for which you are grateful. Just three, and you can even have repeats. Some of the biggies can be easy, such as family and health. But those of us living in the first world have all sorts of things to think about. Did you have a hot shower today in clean water? Did you have enough to eat today? Were you able to park far away from the store and be able to walk the distance instead of having to use that closer handicapped spot?

    Does this have long-term effects on happiness? I can imagine studies that suggest a temporary uptick in happiness but people so often tend to go back to their baseline personality. Anti-depressants for example, may make people less anxious but they tend to revert to the tyranny of their genetic predisposition.

    Yes the practice of gratitude has been shown to have an ongoing effect. 

    People tend to stop doing it, as we do most practices. But its effects can be immediate and durable, if you keep it up. 

    And Anti Depressants can have long term effects for years. It is not like you get resistant to them

    • #16
  17. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    The problem is that most people’s happiness lies in making others submit to their will.

    Well, actually, that makes almost no one happy. Tyrants are usually not happy at all. They may look it, but not happy internally usually. 

    • #17
  18. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Begin by being eternally grateful that you were born in the Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth, the United States of America.

    Saying that is good and true but how do you permanently alter the state of your feelz even when you rationally know that you should be happy?

    What do you mean “Should”

    A factor in increasing mental health is to look at all your “shoulds” and ditch many of them. 

    • #18
  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    This is helpful:

    The idea of the pursuit of happiness as a natural right emerged in the 1700s among the “moral-sense” philosophers, many of the Scottish Enlightenment, who recognized the innate desire in mankind for good or blessedness versus evil in one’s life. Scottish Enlightenment thinker Francis Hutcheson had described man’s desire for good as a right to pursue it. He stated in his 1747 Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy that “the several rights of mankind are…first made known by the natural feelings of their hearts, and their natural desires, pursuing such things as tend to the good of each individual or those dependent on him, and recommending to all certain virtuous offices.”[1] Swiss theorist Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, aligning with such Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, saw mankind’s universal desire for good or blessedness versus evil in life as a desire for happiness. Consequently, he was the first philosopher to articulate the pursuit of happiness as a God-given, natural human right. As all desire happiness, he asserted in his 1748 Principles of Natural Law, all have a natural, God-given right to pursue and acquire happiness. He explains,

    God, by creating us, proposed our preservation, perfection, and happiness. This is what manifestly appears by the faculties with which man is enriched (which all tend to the same end) as well as by the strong inclination that prompts us to pursue good and shun evil. God is therefore willing that everyone should labor for his own preservation and perfection in order to acquire all the happiness of which he is capable according to his nature and state.[2]

    English jurist William Blackstone and German jurist Samuel Pufendorf more specifically believed that a person’s happiness is found in his or her relationship with God, in honoring and living by God’s universal moral law, the Law of Nature and God, which tells us that man should love and respect God and others, harm no one, live honestly, and render to everyone his due. Man’s obedience to God’s moral law, they essentially held, gives him a sense of well-being. In his 1765 Commentaries on the Laws of England, Blackstone states that God has “so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former. If the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter.”[3] Blackstone basically aligned with Pufendorf on the matter. Pufendorf states in his 1703 Of the Law of Nature and Nations that “by order of the Divine Providence it so falls out, that by a natural consequence our happiness flows from such actions as are agreeable to the Law of Nature, and our misery from such as are repugnant to it.”[4]

    Thank you! 

    • #19
  20. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Bryan G. Stephens are the only people who are more misanthropic than myself on Ricochet

    That seems to be a needless insult. I have already told you I don’t hate people. Please don’t project your shadow onto me. 

    I have worked with some of the most broken people in the world. I found that each and every one had inherent value because each one is  Child of God made in His image. 

     

    • #20
  21. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Bryan G. Stephens are the only people who are more misanthropic than myself on Ricochet

    That seems to be a needless insult. I have already told you I don’t hate people. Please don’t project your shadow onto me.

    I have worked with some of the most broken people in the world. I found that each and every one had inherent value because each one is Child of God made in His image.

    Now said that possibly, you might be more misanthropic than me, I am glad you aren’t.

    • #21
  22. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    The problem is that most people’s happiness lies in making others submit to their will.

    Numerically that won’t work. Additionally, while forcing others to submit to your will is a universal human flaw throughout societies, are you sure that 51% of people are like that? I think that you might have overstated your case.

    You alway do think I over state my case and you are usually wrong in that assumption. You think people are much better than they actually are.

    If people were as bad as you think they are, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that things would be worse than they are? I look out my window and people are polite and productive. Additionally, you CTlaw and possibly Bryan G. Stephens are the only people who are more misanthropic than myself on Ricochet. Now I am in no position to criticize folks for having a minority opinions, but why do you think that you are right and everyone else on Ricochet is wrong in their assessment of human nature?

    I think that everyone who disagrees with my beliefs about genetics wrong because people don’t want to believe in how limited humans are by their genes. I can understand that. It’s a really depressing belief but with alot of data supporting. Additionally, it’s not an intuitive worldview.

    Why do you think everyone else on Ricochet is far too sunny with regard to human nature?

    People are as bad as they are.  I just tend to notice it and remember it more.  Not sure why people tend to overlook so much.   Probably the reason people read the paper or news and vote thinking they elections are not rigged as much as possible or believe political promises.

    • #22
  23. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Bryan G. Stephens: The Pursuit of Happiness did not mean chasing after the emotion or the feeling of being “happy”. To the Founders, this term meant living your life as you saw fit. It was about shaping your own destiny, instead of having that destiny shaped for you.

    Bryan, do you have a source or citation for this?

    I’ve reached a point at which I don’t know what the Founders meant by “pursuit of happiness.” 

    According to the Monticello website (here), Jefferson never explained what he meant by the phrase.  The same source states that Jefferson “was almost certainly influenced by George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights (adopted June 12, 1776), which referred to ‘the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.'”

    If “pursuit of happiness” means living your life as you see fit, isn’t this the same as the “liberty” part?

    I worry that this part of the Declaration is a high-sounding phrase that doesn’t mean much of anything, but into which everyone can project their own idea of what they want.

    If you have an unalienable right to live your life as you see fit, doesn’t this mean that it’s perfectly acceptable for you to be a philanderer, a bigamist, a rapist, a sodomite, or a pedophile?  Or a drunkard, or addict, or gambler?  Or a thief, or liar, or cheat, or swindler?  To abort your unborn child, or be an abortionist?

    For that matter, what if my happiness requires me to have your car?

    Worse yet, perhaps, the implication of this interpretation of “pursuit of happiness” is that it is wrong, and un-American, to regulate anyone else’s behavior.  This leads, inevitably, to the breakdown of morality and decency in the community.  Which is exactly what we’ve been seeing, since the 1960s, if not earlier.  It leads to anarchy.

    I don’t think that the Founders were anarchists.

    I find much wisdom in Judge Bork’s views on this issue, which will require another comment.

    • #23
  24. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: The Pursuit of Happiness did not mean chasing after the emotion or the feeling of being “happy”. To the Founders, this term meant living your life as you saw fit. It was about shaping your own destiny, instead of having that destiny shaped for you.

    Bryan, do you have a source or citation for this?

    I’ve reached a point at which I don’t know what the Founders meant by “pursuit of happiness.”

    According to the Monticello website (here), Jefferson never explained what he meant by the phrase. The same source states that Jefferson “was almost certainly influenced by George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights (adopted June 12, 1776), which referred to ‘the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.’”

    If “pursuit of happiness” means living your life as you see fit, isn’t this the same as the “liberty” part?

    I worry that this part of the Declaration is a high-sounding phrase that doesn’t mean much of anything, but into which everyone can project their own idea of what they want.

    If you have an unalienable right to live your life as you see fit, doesn’t this mean that it’s perfectly acceptable for you to be a philanderer, a bigamist, a rapist, a sodomite, or a pedophile? Or a drunkard, or addict, or gambler? Or a thief, or liar, or cheat, or swindler? To abort your unborn child, or be an abortionist?

    For that matter, what if my happiness requires me to have your car?

    Worse yet, perhaps, the implication of this interpretation of “pursuit of happiness” is that it is wrong, and un-American, to regulate anyone else’s behavior. This leads, inevitably, to the breakdown of morality and decency in the community. Which is exactly what we’ve been seeing, since the 1960s, if not earlier. It leads to anarchy.

    I don’t think that the Founders were anarchists.

    I find much wisdom in Judge Bork’s views on this issue, which will require another comment.

    You left out murderer and cannibal.  But, heck, to each his own.

    • #24
  25. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: The Pursuit of Happiness did not mean chasing after the emotion or the feeling of being “happy”. To the Founders, this term meant living your life as you saw fit. It was about shaping your own destiny, instead of having that destiny shaped for you.

    Bryan, do you have a source or citation for this?

    I’ve reached a point at which I don’t know what the Founders meant by “pursuit of happiness.”

    According to the Monticello website (here), Jefferson never explained what he meant by the phrase. The same source states that Jefferson “was almost certainly influenced by George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights (adopted June 12, 1776), which referred to ‘the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.’”

    If “pursuit of happiness” means living your life as you see fit, isn’t this the same as the “liberty” part?

    I worry that this part of the Declaration is a high-sounding phrase that doesn’t mean much of anything, but into which everyone can project their own idea of what they want.

    If you have an unalienable right to live your life as you see fit, doesn’t this mean that it’s perfectly acceptable for you to be a philanderer, a bigamist, a rapist, a sodomite, or a pedophile? Or a drunkard, or addict, or gambler? Or a thief, or liar, or cheat, or swindler? To abort your unborn child, or be an abortionist?

    For that matter, what if my happiness requires me to have your car?

    Worse yet, perhaps, the implication of this interpretation of “pursuit of happiness” is that it is wrong, and un-American, to regulate anyone else’s behavior. This leads, inevitably, to the breakdown of morality and decency in the community. Which is exactly what we’ve been seeing, since the 1960s, if not earlier. It leads to anarchy.

    I don’t think that the Founders were anarchists.

    I find much wisdom in Judge Bork’s views on this issue, which will require another comment.

    You left out murderer and cannibal. But, heck, to each his own.

    Or K-pop fans. 

    • #25
  26. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Flicker (View Comment):
    You left out murderer and cannibal.  But, heck, to each his own.

    But more seriously, I think that the commonly known phrase was Life, Liberty and Property.  But property was thought to be inappropriate and replaced with Happiness.  And in the overview of these three descriptors, happiness can refer to doing what you like, and thinking as you wish, neither of which are summed up in the word property.  And neither of these pursuits is material.  It seems to me that happiness means living one’s life free to pursue his own desires, whether they be thoughts, actions, or material possessions, and not being enslaved in thought or action by others.

    Protecting one’s rights from predators is assumed.  How deep in the jungle of suppositions do we have to go to find relevant meaning in the word “happiness”?

    • #26
  27. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    This is my entry for the Group Writing: We Hold These Truths Group Writing

    I am grateful for Ricochet members like Bryan stepping up and posting in our monthly theme project.

    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the July 2021 Group Writing Theme: “We Hold These Truths (or Fictions).” Stop by to sign up for the August theme: “A day in the life.”

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

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  28. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Or K-pop fans. 

    If you mean Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (and I think you do) there’s nothing wrong with an occasional sweet, puffed rice dish.

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  29. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Bryan G. Stephens: [Declaration of Independence]: “…among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    I see that our resident contrarian has already beat me to it but I would also argue that that third item is a redundant repeat of the second. Little more than a bit of a poetic touch by the talented scribe of that document. (That is where the similar thought processes stop between me and the aforementioned contrarian.) If you look back a year and a half from then, in Alexander Hamilton (in The Farmer Refuted) repeatedly linked three items associated with a free men: life, liberty, and property. I think that, while less poetic, gives a good indication of where the Founder’s heads were.

    Just my two cents worth…none of this takes away from the your greater sermon.

     

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  30. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Or K-pop fans.

    If you mean Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (and I think you do) there’s nothing wrong with an occasional sweet, puffed rice dish.

    Sir. You have made my day. I hope you have a great day and a delicious sesame bagel.

    • #30