Where does Happiness come from?

Recently, I was reading the questions on a shopping survey, and one of the multiple choice answers to the questions stood out like one of those children’s games of “which thing is not like the others”. The question was, “what was the purpose of your shopping?”, some of the multiple choice answers were: to buy a particular item; to purchase food items for a single meal; to replace normal home products; to shop for fun for yourself; to purchase clothing for work or school; to do regular grocery shopping; to replace an electronic item/appliance. So, did you see the one that didn’t fit? Since when is shopping something one does for “fun” for one’s self? This is a blatant promotion that selfishness is okay! I’m not saying a person shouldn’t buy themselves things, but to shop specifically to make yourself “happy” is like saying eating to make yourself happy is okay.

The US government recently had to prove it was not going to default on it’s debt and stop paying employees or stop funding the many programs and projects it has around the world.  Something that I heard over and over was that the government needed to get out of this recession in order for the public to feel good about spending again because spending is what keeps society going. Really? I know how capitalism works, and it is not for public betterment. It is for the owner of the business. But, I want to keep this as short as possible, so I’ll try to cut to the chase, as they say. As the illustration at the top shows, I have come to believe that the US public is encouraged to spend in order to “feel good” and “be happy”, and not only that, it seems to be suggested that by spending they are helping the whole society. To this I say there is a balance, but I have talked about that before. There is something I perceive as slightly insidious. Education in the US is free for primary and secondary, but college/university is not. In order to have a good job, one needs to have a Bachelor’s Degree, but joblessness is so rampant that most companies are now expecting a person to have a Master’s Degree for an entry level position. This is beyond the reach of many people in the US, in spite of grants and scholarships. Spending is promoted, no matter what one’s economic level is, and people are bombarded by adverts every where for every thing, and told they “need” the newest, most advanced this or that. Here is the crux of what appears to be rambling, (bear with me, as I really am trying to make this brief, but it is complex), I believe the public is being encouraged to stay ignorant, to be sedated by spending, and to thrive on the goal of attaining the next purchase, whereas the goal of bettering oneself, gaining a strong education, seeking greater knowledge and understanding in order to be a better person and a more productive citizen to the betterment of yourself and to the betterment of society as a whole, is not promoted or encouraged.

I’ll leave you with a quote by the Marquis de Sade from his work, Juliette (circa 1797), “You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you encourage ignorance. This opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you. And that is why where you reign no establishments are to be found giving great men to the homeland; the rewards due knowledge are unknown here, and as there is neither honor nor profit in being wise, nobody seeks after wisdom. ….”So it is that among you a taste for trivial things replaces a taste for great ones, that the time which ought to be devoted to the latter is frittered away on futilities, and that you will be subjugated sooner or later and again and again by any foe who bothers to make the effort.”

Music: Because it is thematic. Old old song, and warning, it has a bad word.  “Money” by Pink Floyd          

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