April 12th, 2002

The view from up here

"...certain and unalienable rights..."

Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness.

When is the last time you exercised those rights? There's a difference between living and existence; a crucial difference that many miss in their day to day drudgery. When's the last time you asserted your right to liberty; to freedom of thought and expression, not merely for the sake of itself? To rebel solely for rebellion's sake lies only the other side of the coin opposite obeying the rules. People expect you to do either, and you can't really be free if you're devoting yourself living up to others' expectations. To conform or to rebel? Neither; to live.

Oddly enough, item number two on our list has come right back to item number one. Or maybe not so oddly; maybe our forefathers had some inkling, at least some of the time, as to what they were laying down.

The third item makes me laugh the hardest. The pursuit of happiness? In an age where "goth" is a style (which has nothing to do with the germanic tribes OR the style of architecture) and people seek to wallow in their own depression? I think that this tenet has been the most thoroughly misconstrued and, ultimately, violated. It's given way to the pursuit of lucre. I use the term lucre because I like it; saying it makes me happy. Not to be trite, but money can't bring you happiness. It's given way to the pursuit of blameful reason. If only you could find out whose fault everything was, you'd be happy, because you'd understand the reason behind things and could change it. Wrong. You can't change reason, and the most expiditious way to change someone's reasoning is through action. "Men debate; nature acts," to use my favorite Voltaire quote. As a result, nature has her own longstanding and inviolate laws, while men must congregate in large numbers to create a single law, and even that can be questioned and repealed. I'm not saying thought can't provide happiness; thought is, in this case, irrelevant. The operative (and I use operative as operate is an active verb) question here is a matter of productivity. How much of what comes from each thought? You can measure happiness quantitatively by smile width to the millimeter you like; if taking things literally makes you happy. But are your thoughts creating something; an invention, a business, happiness? Or are they destructive, filled with deception, scheming, blame and loathing?

It's your right as an American to choose.
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