We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Lanchester in The New Yorker reviews two books on the subject of happiness. Interesting stuff. A Quote:
He (McMahon) points out that the Founding Fathers, who queried, crossed out, and haggled over every line of the Declaration, let the “pursuit of Happiness” stand unedited and unamended. But he also points out that the eighteenth-century understanding of “pursuit” was rather darker than it might seem now. Dr. Johnson’s dictionary defined it as “the act of following with hostile intention,” and McMahon adds that “if one thinks of pursuing happiness as one pursues a fugitive . . . the ‘pursuit of happiness’ takes on a somewhat different cast.”
The legacy of that ambiguity is with us still. We are pursuing happiness to this day, and it is by no means clear that it is a happy process. The self-help section in any bookshop is easy to mock—indeed, it sometimes seems that the titles of self-help books are almost mocking themselves—but there is nothing to mock about the people standing in front of the shelves looking for guidance. In fact, the advice in self-help books is, by and large, pretty good. The trouble is that it is very difficult to take.
Happiness in the sense of the Declaration, I believe, referred to the Platonic and Aristotelian distinction between 'pleasure' and 'happiness'.
'Pleasure' is sensual, i.e., of passing duration and dependent upon external factors (power, money, drink, drugs, sex, etc.).
'Happiness' is found in pursuit of virtue and is therefore internal and eternal in nature. True happiness is a matter of the human soul, the highest aspect of human nature. Happiness in that sense is the ultimate expression of individual responsibility.
What St. Hillary and her fellow Baby Boomers sense as missing from their lives is pursuit of virtue, which is literally impossible in the athestic materialism that our public schools teach and in a society in which citizens, after 74 years of the welfare state, believe that only the Federal government can deliver things to improve peoples' lives.
Exile of true happiness is the result of the labors of the ACLU and its allies, who dedicate themselves to reducing human existence to the Freudian level in which our genetals are the locus of human asperation.