“Suppose for a moment, that we define a virtuous act as bowing in the direction of Mecca every day at sunset. We attempt to persuade everyone to perform this act. But suppose that instead of relying on voluntary conviction we employ a vast number of police to break into everyone’s home and see to it that every day they are pushed down to the floor in the direction of Mecca. No doubt by taking such measures we will increase the number of people bowing toward Mecca. But by forcing them to do so, we are taking them out of the realm of action and into mere motion, and we are depriving all these coerced persons of the very possibility of acting morally. By attempting to compel virtue, we eliminate its possibility. To be moral, an act must be free.”
I can’t recommend enough that people study economics. It has taken over my life, for the better. It is the ultimate red pill. Governments make sense when you study economics (if you’re studying the right places). It makes revolutions all the more understandable, and is truly frightening in making you realize that, very likely, you may be involved in a revolutionary war in your life time, or a political prisoner, or subjected to the whims of your “rulers”, whatever they may be. “Constitutional protections” are flimsy when the rulers just……….you know, ignore them. The ultimate answer is an education. That is truly profound. The battle between good and evil never ultimately ceases. We just, thankfully, get some breaks from it every now and then. Peace, of course, is preferable. But smart people know that evil people won’t hesitate to use evil to achieve their means. It is crucial that people be willing to accept their natural right to defend themselves.
It is already known that the Enlightenment changed the world. And such a relatively short period of time ago. But as government gets more and more involved in education, these truths become lost. We mustn’t let the little kiddies ever believe that they have a “right” to ever disobey us. This is why the warning bells have been signaled ever since America’s FOUNDING. The debate over the structure of the government. Thankfully, America was founded upon a rebellion against tyranny. The Enlightenment changed the world. Americans are the products of the Enlightenment. It truly makes one want to study world history, and see if America really was the first “free land”. Ireland, apparently, was “free” for a millennium. That’s astounding. History is full of revolutions. Now, more than ever, I am interested in studying world history. I finally no longer have my fingers in my ears while I sing “Our God is an awesome God” every time the subject of world history comes to my attention. The same for other subjects as well (thank God).
Many Americans have a “Revere” spirit. We still remember why America became a nation. And at least some of us still understand that this is always relevant. “Revolution” is not simply “historical”. It is always an option. Many Americans understand this, but sadly, more and more refuse to accept this truth. More and more, people become less skeptical of “leaders”. They refuse to believe that America could ever become, say, a North Korea. That type of attitude whittles away the revolutionary spirit that founded the nation. It is a very scary trend. The reason economics is so crucial to this cause is because people will ask, for example, what happened in 2008? Why did I lose everything? They look for answers. Their political leaders always offer them the solutions. And many of them listen, and believe the leaders. Even the most elementary glance at history shows the ultimate “conclusion” of government control. Americans are skeptical of this. “Wait a minute: weren’t we founded on a rebellion against government? Wasn’t that what the Enlightenment was all about? Something fishy is going on here. What am I missing?” The answer is economics.
……….Of course, educating oneself in other areas would help as well. I’m getting around to educating myself on world history. Currently, I’m too involved with economics to do both. You have to have a structure when learning. That, really, comes down to the individual student.
If Christ has forgiven a variety of sinners of all different kinds of sins, I have to believe that murder and rape are included in these sins that are forgiven. That’s a really deep statement. I don’t recall a provision where murder, or rape, or any sin was deemed “unforgivable”. Perhaps I’m missing one. I seem to recall something about “unbelief” being the only “unforgivable” sin. But the thought of murderers and rapists being in Heaven is quite a profound statement. Statements like that help one truly grasp the nature of God’s forgiveness through Christ.
Some may see that as weakness on the part of the Lord, but let’s not forget about Hell. Of course, there will be those that will be punished. But that suffering would affect us all if we went there, regardless of what our sins were. “How do you think we’d feel if we were murdered? Or if one of our loved ones were?” Believe me, I completely understand your point. But hear me out. According to the Bible, all deserve eternal suffering, whether or not one ever murders. That’s quite interesting, isn’t it? Surely a murderer deserves Hell more than, say, an atheist, correct? But aren’t both classified as “sins” according to the Bible? That’s interesting. Does Hell have “layers”, such as in “Dante’s Inferno”? I haven’t read enough on the Bible to develop an opinion regarding how Hell is structured. I’m sure someone could send me verses to enlighten me on that fact.
Does the fact that we all justly deserve Hell make our suffering more “manageable” to us if we were to go there? Surely it’s “Hell” for a reason. Surely “Hell” means something. It means eternal suffering, correct? Well, regardless of one’s sins, I have to feel some sympathy for anyone that ends up in Hell. I don’t see how one could truly not feel sympathy for that person. According to my clearly amateurish understanding of Hell, it’s too horrific for there to not be sympathy felt. It truly shows the tragedy of evil. We all end up losing because of it.
I think it shows that we all share a common humanity as well. It shows empathy: we all deserve Hell, but none of us want to go there. I think that truly says something about humanity and love, even if some of us do murder. Clearly, murder should be dealt with. On Earth, it makes sense that murderers should be stopped when they murder, whether through imprisonment or death. An eye for an eye, afterall, is the ultimate sign of “justice“. It’s much harder to truly condemn someone to Hell in your mind when you realize that everyone justly deserves it. It makes you realize that God has forgiven you, and that even the perpetuators of the worst crimes imaginable can receive sympathy. They do deserve to come to justice, but there’s certainly a tragic element involved from multiple standpoints. The most obvious (and deserving) tragic elements are the people upon whom the crimes are committed. Then, it follows that their loved ones deserve sympathy (and even the loved ones of the criminal). But it is, understandably so, much harder to proclaim that the criminals deserve sympathy. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be overwhelmed with a desire to kill an innocent person, but I realize that people like that exist. It makes me sad. I just feel sad about the whole situation. It is hard for me to be angry at the murderer. I completely understand the justified anger that people feel, but I myself feel more sad than angry.
It would make more sense if, say, only murderers went to Hell. That would make the concept of “Hell” an easier pill to swallow. But even if Hell was occupied only by murderers, I’d still feel sad, and feel sympathy. I’d still ask “Why do they feel compelled to murder?” If one truly grows up in a violent household, it makes sense to lament at the entire situation (but, of course, not excuse the murder. It should still be dealt with). But if one grows up “normally”, but still murders, there is still a sympathy that I’d feel for the murderer. It’s the tragic “Why?” that we all have any time a situation like this occurs.
However, according to the Bible, it isn’t the case that Hell is occupied solely by murderers. It is hard to accept the scope of things that makes one a sinner in the eyes of God. Why should I be punished for Adam and Eve’s doing? I, admittedly, don’t understand the scope of God’s justice. It may be hard for people to understand why I’m saying this, but I can accept that God is, in fact, just. I don’t know how to convince anyone with “evidence”, and I’m not going to. Ridicule me as a “crazy conservative” if you must. Ultimately, I think the debate between “believers” and “non-believers” is pointless. I think “live and let live” is a much better alternative. The fact that Hell is not composed solely of murderers makes me question a lot of my views regarding ethics, justice, and forgiveness. I certainly think there is a place for justice and a place for forgiveness. It is not up to me to tell someone when they should be enraged or when they should forgive, but this is merely my perspective on the topic. I’m clearly not a “divine authority”. It’s just interesting. I’m not quite sure why I’m so sympathetic. I just always have been. It’s just who I am.
As I said, I just thought this was interesting. I’m not passing any judgment: just bringing up a point. One that I have not noticed brought up, is all.
This, of course, says a lot about religious conservatives, but that’s a topic for another time (and yes, I understand that even they can be forgiven. I used to be one of them).
I will conclude by saying, of course, murderers should not be free to murder. But the point is that God is infinite in His existence. His way of dealing with things such as murder transcends what we, as humans, are able to do. I think that is extraordinarily profound. And I thought this all worth mentioning, as evidenced by the fact that I wrote this.
Ideological conflict is human nature. Us humans were given life on this planet, without a say so in the matter, and we live. Our very existence is a conflict. Within our existence, there exists “nature”. This “nature” provides us with things we need to live (air, water, etc.), and also things that can kill us (air, water, (hurricanes, etc.) etc.). This troubles me. It is often said that those things which one cannot change should not be the cause of stress, because there is nothing one can do about those things. But it is precisely the fact that I cannot do something about a thing which bothers me the most. Realizing the constant state of conflict in the world wears on my soul. It wears on all of our souls. It will always wear on all of our souls. We will be given breaks for indefinite amounts of time. But it will always wear on our souls. And that fact wears on mine.
I truly should be thankful for those times in which I live in the moment. In some ways, I think it is almost impossible not to be. Almost instinctively, we say the phrase “I am thankful.” There are often situations which are so great to us that we feel compelled to say thank you. The phrase “I am thankful” itself signifies gratitude, so there is an inherent gratitude that overwhelms us whenever we are thankful. It is in those exact moments that we are freed from the conflicts that we otherwise cannot escape.
I suppose this is a good time to bring up a specific conflict that I’ve had in mind. Quite simply, the conflict amounts to these two separate ideas: 1) that our wants do matter, and 2) that our wants do not matter. Among these, there, of course, branch off several different beliefs attached to each of these ideas.
I will approach the second idea first. The idea that our wants do not matter. This can be approached from several different standpoints. There is a religious standpoint (particularly self-defined as “Christian”) in which our wants do not matter because there is a “higher” purpose. This “higher purpose” is “God”. And I don’t want to discuss fully the idea of what “God” is in this sense, because that would take me forever to do so (and I probably would not be sufficient at doing so, anyway). The idea basically comes down to a few things: that we are sinners, and that we deserve to be punished. That we should punish ourselves for our own sin so that when we die, we may be rewarded. And it attempts to identify what is a sin (what should be avoided) and what isn’t, and, every single time, it creates anger, resentment, confusion, depression, guilt, and hopelessness upon the person weighing his own sins. His time is to be preoccupied with these emotions, and happiness just doesn’t fit into the equation. In fact, “happiness” means he is enjoying his sin. His flesh (including his mind that isn’t preoccupied with Heaven and Hell) will lead him to a path of eternal damnation; an eternal pain and suffering caused by an everlasting fire. But some mysterious spirituality residing in specific buildings will help him when he dies, say, 40 years from now. Constant guilt and beating oneself up for one’s whole life will show God that one is, in fact, holy, and worthy of being saved. The key to avoiding Hell when one dies is to not allow yourself to escape from thinking about it while here on Earth. That, in a nutshell, is the gist of the idea. It doesn’t make any sense to me (anymore), but that’s the idea.
There is also a standpoint with regards to the philosophy that our wants do not matter from a “depressed”, “defeatist” attitude. The idea that life itself does not care about our wants, because our wants are so often devastated, often horrifically, by things outside of our control. A lot of scientists and atheists take this approach. In the case of science, this “defeatist” attitude often comes from a lack of repeatable evidence. This isn’t always true, but it happens enough for there to be a noticeable “tendency”. The idea that life was an accident of nature. That everything was “just right” for life to come into existence, but without a purpose for coming into existence. The “Descartesian” approach: that reality is perceived through the senses, so all realities must be measurable by the senses in order for something to truly be a reality (even though he admits he’s a Christian in his writings. In college, my professor brought it up that he probably would’ve been tried for heresy if he hadn’t have admitted such, so that makes me “doubt” (haha) whether or not he truly identified as a Christian). “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
“Beliefs” cannot be seen, smelled, heard (from an outside source; they originate from “within”, and then can be talked (and, therefore, “heard”)), tasted, or touched. They are something separate from “the senses”. It is evident that beliefs are separate from the senses as someone can deny (through, say, shock) something that is seen in front of them, heard over the phone, etc. “Faith” is something that transcends the senses. It doesn’t have to be called “religious faith”.
Take, for instance, the case of a loved one dying in the hospital. No one wants to believe that the loved one is going to die. They know it is either possible or likely, but they still hope that the person lives. Knowing that they are likely to die is different than believing they are likely to die. Hope transcends the senses. Optimism, in this case, transcends the senses. The belief that the loved one will recover is an essential emotional tool. You can’t see, smell, taste, hear, or touch the recovery that you hope to happen, but truly believing that someone isn’t going to pull through is very difficult emotionally. People believe the loved one is going to make it through because it makes them feel better. There’s certainly a lot of scoffing at the idea that one would ignore a reality just because it makes one “feel” better. I’m included among these “scoffers”. But belief is an essential emotional tool for us humans. Optimism, hope, belief, and faith are essential. What makes one optimistic, or why one is hopeful, believes, etc., is up for debate. But the most obvious answer is that it makes one feel better, and this, by itself, does not disprove anything. The fact that one is hopeful that the loved one lives does not disprove that the loved one is going to live (of course, this goes without saying, that hope does not prove that the loved one will pull through, either). Hope, faith, etc. are things which cannot be measured, and are truths that exist separately from realities that are perceived through the senses. So, in conclusion, if the creation of life itself has no “purpose”, and our existence has no “purpose”, then why would our happiness have any “purpose”? If life was a happy accident, why can’t happiness be a happy accident? Why should we treat it as anything more than a “fortunate accident”? This, I think, explains, on at least some level, the noticeable depression among many “atheistic/scientific” types. This is one “atheistic/scientific” approach to “wants”. (There are, of course, atheists who believe that “purpose” is whatever we ascribe to our realities, and they aren’t particularly nihilistic. But the nihilistic atheists are worth mentioning). I should mention that I went through my own atheistic period, just to make sure the reader understands that I am not critiquing atheism because I was raised religiously and accept what I was taught uncritically.
The temperatures of space and the sun can be measured. The infinite majority of the universe is uninhabitable. There are searches for hospitable planets in the depths of space, but for every chance there may be a planet where life could exist, there are countless examples of places in space where life almost certainly cannot exist. If you very deeply value the idea of there being life outside of Earth, this fact, of course, will produce depression inherently. If you don’t care about whether or not there exists life outside of the Earth, this will not bother you. It is a matter of differences in personal values.
There are other “types” that believe that our desires to not matter from a philosophical standpoint. Unfortunate life circumstances have a tendency to make one extremely pessimistic and depressed. This will, of course, make one believe that the world doesn’t care. And that perspective certainly makes sense. “If God loves us, why does He allow for war, famine, and disease to happen?” I personally find that to be a very poignant question. A lot of Christians run from that question, for fear of angering God and suffering His wrath. But how can anyone not ask that question? It’s a very valid question. When it comes to matters of spirituality, I believe that honesty is always the best policy. Opening up your soul to The Great Beyond is always important and therapeutic. It is important to believe that one is able to do this. You can’t have peace spiritually if you are afraid. Comfort requires peace, and quiet, and poignant honesty. Admitting that you have problems with something. We, as humans, should not avoid the nature of our brains when we discuss spirituality. We can’t run from ourselves. It only makes us more miserable than we were when we first started running. And if God loves us, as Christians preach, why can’t we ask Him tough questions? Why can’t we say we have problems with Him? Why can’t we be angry at Him? Jesus Christ is said to have been God in human form. Human. It is said that we were made in God’s image. We, as humans, were made in God’s image. What does “image” mean, exactly? Well, perhaps the way we look is a part of it. I don’t know what “God” looks like, but Jesus was a human. I think it’s more than just cosmetics, however. The Bible makes it clear that God can both love and hate. Can’t we also love and hate? Of course we can. I think this is also what is meant by being made in “His image”.
So if there is, according to Christian doctrine, a strong connection between humanity and God, let’s think about some specific instances of relationships between humans. Let’s take loved ones for example. Can we not get angry at loved ones? We still love our loved ones. But can’t we get angry? Can’t we forgive our loved ones when we believe they have wronged us? I have to believe that these are also what is meant by us being made in God’s image: sharing some of His characteristics. That He can get angry at us, but also forgive us. That makes sense to me. I can’t comprehend completely the level of, say, His anger, or His forgiveness, but I can accept that He can “experience” both.
The atheists and Christians come together in their resentment of human choice. Speaking broadly, of course, the atheists’ nihilism leads people to believe that their actions have no significant influence, and the Christians’ condemnation leads people to believe that their desires are evil. Both of these stifle action. And action, of course, is driven by desire. Both the atheists and the conservatives are about creating misery. The sad thing is that they spend so much time fighting each other that they can’t see that, in that respect, they’re the same. “It doesn’t matter what you want because God isn’t real and life has no meaning and we’re all going to die” is, of course, an extremely similar message to “It doesn’t matter what you want because what you want is going to lead you to an eternity of suffering after you die.” Notice the similarity? (Hint: it isn’t just the fact that “in the long run, we’re all dead”).
This attitude of “it doesn’t matter what you want” extends beyond any religious/spiritual spheres. It’s common even among non-religious discussions. Of course, the basic fact is “You can’t always get what you want.” But there’s a certain attitude that comes with this reality that I rather despise. It, similarly, amounts to “It doesn’t matter what you desire”, which is ridiculous. Much like the hospital example I gave earlier. Does the fact that a loved one is almost certain to die mean that I should just “Get over what I want”? This attitude is extremely pervasive; not about loved ones, but desire in general. You can be that way if you wish, but I find it disgusting and repulsive.
Once again, I think this largely has to do with unfortunate life circumstances. Perhaps there’s an underlying depression that manifests itself through anger among those that so proudly declare to dreamers that “It doesn’t matter what you want” when the listener of those words is deciding upon which course of action to take in the common course of his life. It’s usually very hateful, which is a red flag to me. I’m not against hate completely, as there are many things that I “hate”. But the way that I so often hear “It doesn’t matter what you want” raises a red flag to me. It has for a very long time. I had this attitude for most of my childhood simply by observing my parents. I watched them leave for work everyday, and complain about it every single day. Of course, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. But, to my child mind, I wanted something different (my parents certainly had a lot to do with planting this seed in my head in other, more intentional ways, as well). I grew up basically expecting that adulthood was going to suck, and that I’d never experience happiness again after childhood. It’s interesting, because that perspective influenced me in other regards as well. It basically became my overall demeanor for a long time.
It goes without saying, but several different things have affected my perspective. Religion affected my perspective; my mother abandoning me affected my perspective. The most embarrassing thing which affected my perspective in childhood was porn. I consumed porn as a child that affected my perspectives about women. Apparently, looking back on it, I must’ve been reading some dominatrix porn. At the time, I didn’t know anything about “kinks” or “normal human relationships”, so I thought this was just the way that women treated men. It made me resent them. Hey, it’s embarrassing. But honesty is therapeutic to me. (I must include that in addition to this porn, religion severely affected my perspectives about women. It made me hate the fact that they made me feel “sinful” things, and made me resent them because of it. Once again, it’s embarrassing. I already know what is going to be said: “Wow, sounds like Ed Gein.” Go ahead and get that out of your system. I know you’ll feel better for hating me). But the type of porn I discovered, along with religious guilt about sexuality in general, made me want to stay as far away from women as possible. Even to this day, I do not particularly desire women. It’s no surprise why. I realize that will make many readers angry, but hey. Therapy is good.
Also, as is the case with many, if not all people, you have crushes during your childhood that lead to absolutely nothing. And it continues through your teenage years. If it happens frequently enough, and you’re emotionally sensitive enough (as I was), you put your guard up. All of these facts lead up to why I don’t particularly enjoy dating, nor sex. I try to avoid attractive women because I don’t even want the thoughts to enter my mind. I’m developing a healthier attitude towards sex due to the way my life philosophies have changed regarding happiness, but the idea of being in a relationship does not interest me in the least. Casual sex doesn’t either, honestly. Friendships, of course, are fine: provided that I don’t get too physically or romantically attracted to the friend. Then, that just leads to more complicated feelings that I wish I could rid myself of. (I should also mention that my desire to be alone also originates just from my natural demeanor, without being influenced by “outside forces”. I just naturally enjoy my alone time).
It is quite unbelievable how long I spent trying to run away from my emotions about women. Trying to run away from physical attractiveness in particular. It doesn’t surprise me that it happened, but I can’t believe how long it has taken me to say “Uh, that’s just dumb.” I’m basically having to teach myself that sexuality is ok, and that’s a really bad thing to have to do. That should be taught from the beginning. I don’t recall exactly who “taught” me otherwise (I really don’t think it was my parents. I remember them speaking to me about condoms, and I was so overwhelmed with embarrassment that I tuned them out. I think it was pastors on the radio, or something. It’s crazy how one sermon can completely change your life forever. For the worse, even). Emotional sensitivity, shyness, dominatrix literature and conservative preaching have all been factors towards my feelings about women. I don’t hate women. Women are human beings. I know this. But I prefer to be alone and guarded. I know this will change with time, but it doesn’t really bother me that I am this way. It bothers me that people are going to think the worst of me based on what I’ve said, but it doesn’t matter what you do or say, you’re always going to have people that think you are an evil person. It’s just how it is. I’ll concede that I am a stupid person, but, hopefully, you understand why I’m a stupid person. I’m working on it, slowly but surely, and a large key to this is going to be my “happiness” philosophy. I’m having to retrain myself that my wants actually matter. That my wants aren’t “evil”. And I just don’t want romance. I’m also still hesitant about being sexually attracted to women, but there’s just some things that you can’t help. THERE TRULY ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU JUST HAVE TO “ACCEPT”. Once again, I know you’ll think I’m weird, and that’s acceptable. Because I am weird. I just hope you understand where I’m coming from, and can maybe empathize with me, is all.
So, slowly but surely, I’m learning that wants (especially sexual) are not inherently evil. Physical attraction is not evil. It makes me uncomfortable, but it isn’t evil. I can see how trust is important when it comes to relationships. Learning that trust, love, etc. are important to relationships does not occur in the way that learning to fear God through the Ten Commandments happens. A major problem I have had is hearing basic facts about the world and judging them through this “Ten Commandments” logic. “Is this sinful, or is this not? I’m going to judge this to the fullest extent of holiness to see if it stacks up to God’s plan.” Basically, it is the idea of treating, say, the fact that love is built on trust to mean that you must trust anyone you have any attraction to at any time or else you are an ethical failure with regards to trust, and I guess that means you’re going to be punished for not trusting. This, of course, is a result of being taught that lust (a.k.a., sexual desire) is unholy unless you are married to the person you sexually desire. So it isn’t surprising to believe that you must develop an intimate relationship with anyone you physically desire, but it’s excruciatingly tragic. You push your warped logic to its extreme end. Most of us are aware of “conservative crazies”, but sadly, too many of us are those “conservative crazies”. It’s really stupid and depressing. There’s many of us that understand what warped conservative ideologies say, and, thankfully, many people that are critical of it. The amount of times that I treated being attracted to a girl to mean that I had to date her is physically repulsive to me. Shitty conservative ideas: “lust” (looking at a woman with sexual attraction with no intention of “marrying” her) should be avoided at all costs, you should ask God for forgiveness, masturbating is a sin, yadda yadda yadda. It truly is emotional child torture. It is so weird how, over the course of your life, people can affect you for the worst. Some people make your life better, others make it worse. Just another inescapable fucking reality of being here on Earth.
Interestingly enough, in addition to me being a fucking retard about women, I’m also a doormat. When I was younger, I made sure not to step on anyone’s toes, and this came at the expense of me asserting myself pretty much at all. You want to date me? Sure, why not. It doesn’t matter what I want: I exist to make other people happy, because that’s a holy thing to do. Showing that I “care for others” as God commands. Jesus fucking Christ: when have I not been stupid? Time after time after time, I dated a girl simply because she wanted to, when I had no interest in doing so whatsoever. Because I’m just a pushover that couldn’t assert myself. Of course, I doubted myself because of perceived “peer pressure”: “Everyone else is fucking, man! Why don’t you care about dating?” Finally, after several years of emotionally tormenting myself, I accepted that I just wasn’t interested. I was still physically attracted (and emotionally attracted a few times), but not interested. That was a huge, great first step for me. Asserting myself. Defending myself is the next step I see, but there is a value in ignoring criticisms, whether they be just or not, and entering your own bubble. That’s blasphemous to those who aren’t being widely criticized, but privacy and solitude are beautiful blessings indeed.
The final step, at least thus far, towards my “accepting happiness as a valuable, worthy goal” philosophy was tackling religion on a different front. Not the religious ideas that I’ve already mentioned in this piece, but ideas that I’ve mentioned before in other pieces. I reached a breaking point as far as money and God were concerned. The conflict between making money on the one hand (thus, avoiding God, in my mind) or choosing God and remaining in poverty on the other proved to be my breaking point (the dichotomy, of course, existing because “this world is sinful”, etc.). By a miracle, I finally accepted that the two ideas were not mutually exclusive: they were not incompatible. The misery I experienced in my youth regarding my parents being miserable with their jobs was gone. I always ran from my desire for money by saying “Well, if my parents don’t like making it, why should I make it?” “If money is the root of all evil, why shouldn’t I avoid it?” “If CEOs are greedy, horrible people, why would I want money?” Then, of course, when I actually needed money, I faced a huge contradiction. Thankfully, this was resolved for me by realizing that I can choose both. A truly revolutionary idea that has basically zero traction in common discussion, which goes: Either we should focus on God and not care about money (because of “greed”) or we should abandon God altogether. I have not seen many connect the two dots. I have not seen many say that one can be wealthy and be a Christian. Often Biblical verses are cited to prove that one cannot be both simultaneously, but I’d have to be skeptical of this analysis from several points. On the one hand, why should poverty be something to be “helped” if wealth is also a bad thing? In other words, how can poverty and wealth both be conditions undesirable to God? What other “state” is there? Middle class? Is there a specific amount of money that God will allow? That seems ludicrous to me. Let’s say I start out at this “specific” amount of money that makes me “holy”. If I buy something, I’m “below” that monetary amount. Likewise, if I sell something, I’m “above” it. Is the amount which determines “holiness” dependent upon money, or materials? How exactly is this “value” to be measured? Once again, I consider the whole idea of God demanding a “specific” amount of money to be a Christian a ludicrous idea. I also consider the idea of there being a holy “range” of money to be just as ludicrous.
Many interpret the Bible to mean that Christ hated wealth itself. As I’ve been studying economics for quite some time now, I find this to be absurd. I have learned that wealth is created through common, beneficiary exchange. Why would God dislike humans working together to become happier? Still yet, others may say it is the wealth disparity that God hated. Once again, I don’t think this would be the case. On the free market, wealth is created through voluntary exchange, whereby individuals trade because they believe to be better off. Those that are wealthy have traded more valuable things to more people, and thus, have increased the happiness of all of those involved in the trading (of course, there is such a thing as “buyer’s remorse” and “seller’s remorse”, but one buys or sells when one believes one will be better off, more satisfied, when he or she buys or sells). Why would God be upset with the traders if they are benefiting the people around them more so than the poor? (Of course, many will say that, for example, those with disabilities can’t trade as much with others, if, in fact, at all, and thus, are at an economic advantage. Surely God cares about the disabled, correct? The argument I’m making isn’t that God hates the poor because they are poor, but that He doesn’t hate the wealthy just because they are wealthy. I don’t think He hates the wealthy simply because the poor exist. I don’t think God is a Socialist (I don’t think He has ever been accused of being an egalitarian in hardly any sense: He’s been condemned for being a “favoritist” more often)). Certainly I don’t think it is wealth that God has a problem with. I’m sure he has problems with how wealth is created (I don’t see how God can issue a commandment “Thou shalt not steal” but be ok with stealing from the rich to give to the poor (it is a commandment, afterall). But what about the murder commandment? What about “just holy wars” where people die? What about self-defense? All valid questions that I don’t have answers to), but I don’t think there is a problem with wealth per se. Wealth can do great things to people. One has to be wealthy in order to donate wealth to others. In other words, you can’t donate unless you have. Why would having be evil, while giving be praised? Once again, I think the whole idea is ludicrous. And even if a rich person spends their money “selfishly”, other people are still getting paid. Whatever the rich person buys is being given to the people involved in getting the product (or service) to the rich person, whether it be producing, distributing, storing, or whatever. The whole idea that God hates wealth is nonsense. Why would Heaven be described with “streets of gold” if gold (a symbol of wealth) is this inherently evil thing? I don’t think God is displeased with us humans because, within the past several centuries, wealth has been created for humanity on a scale never before created in humanity’s history. (This makes me think of conservatives, who lament at “the good old days”, back before people were “Godless”). I can’t believe that God has a problem with the free market, and that He has a problem with wealth. Of course, it is easy to compare the rich to the poor, but the fact that all money that is spent helps out somebody is a reality that should be understood. Whether a rich person gives it to another rich person that owns a business and employs people and gives customers goods and/or services, or gives it to a charity to help children born with life-threatening conditions, it should be understood that his wealth helps whomever he gives it to. (It should be noted that there would be no money to give to charities without profit). I do not think this means that God has a problem with saving (“hoarding”), because saving simply exists for future consumption. Everyone knows that it is dumb to, for example, be buried with your money after you die. I think that is part of the problem with wealth that God may have: stuff that is already obvious to us. I think the fact that it is obvious to us is evident that God would have a problem with it (the “human connection” between God and man).
My life changed forever on that day when I realized that God and money were not completely incompatible. I desired to learn about what money actually was, and I’ve been studying economics ever since. I’ve also, largely thanks to my best friend, been developing a “happiness” philosophy. I enjoy introspection, and unraveling why I am how I am. I’m always going to do this with my writing. This, typically, is done in retrospect. But now, I actually have a philosophy to anticipate developing in the future. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a time in my life where I actually looked forward to the future (pun unintended), at least long-term. It’s really overwhelming: I’m not quite sure what to do at times. I feel like a dog that has been abused, who, thanks to a very loving owner, wags his tail violently and jumps and runs around uncontrollably simply due to glee and relief. I love listening to my best friend talk about religion. He has taught me a lot, and I owe him a lot. His personal battles, past and present, are interesting to me, and I’m interested in seeing how God develops us over time. What will our similarities within the faith be, and what will be the differences, as I’m sure there will be? I’m very interested in finding that out.
I, also briefly, would like to mention something else regarding to my past sensitivities, morality, etc., and that is the idea of debating. I don’t really believe I was taught this, but it has just always been a natural disposition of mine. When I was younger, I never liked it when people “debated”. I hated arguments (even harmless ones), and I didn’t like loud noises. I never liked gregariousness (which explains why I spent so much time alone, away from, for example, my father). Of course, you learn, change, and grow over time. People help influence you, and I’m clearly different than I was as a child (God, I would hope so). But now, I dislike debating for other reasons. I won’t mention them all here: I’ll save them for other pieces. Change always makes me wonder why in the fuck I was ever the original way in the first place, but, at least if the change is clearly for the better, I can be thankful that it, at least, happened at all.
I’ve been influenced for the better; I’ve been influenced for the worse. I guess I’m just a human being.
I certainly understand the idea that “you can’t always get what you want”. But what I don’t understand about people who so proudly declare that “it doesn’t matter what you want” with so much sass is that everything we do is an attempt to satiate some desire that we have. What we desire drives our actions. I don’t understand why this isn’t widely believed, or, at the very least, why it isn’t widely disseminated. I am indebted to various economists I have read over the past several years for the revelation that “human beings use means to achieve ends”. This, of course, means that humans desire. Desire is what drives all economic activity: the desire to live, and to live how one wants to the best of his abilities, doing the best he can for himself because he desires what he considers to be in his best interest. So, in other words, all of those miserable people who, so proudly, declare that it doesn’t matter what you want, are, essentially, driven by their own wants. Once again, I don’t know why this isn’t widely accepted and disseminated. The conservatives want to go to Heaven, and the best way they can see to do this is by condemning the “sinful” world around them (sadly). Atheists, I suppose, want to learn sensible truths, or, at the very least, want to avoid the negativity that often comes with being religiously conservative, and want to call out those who make others purposefully feel like shit, even if for a “higher purpose”. Of course, there’s countless motivations and reasons for what people do, but the point is that they are driven by intrinsic desire to obtain their goals, and they take actions in an attempt to satisfy these goals for themselves. This, in the words of Mises’s magnum opus, is “Human Action”.
I personally refuse to accept that what I personally desire isn’t valuable: that it is a “waste of time”. I certainly reject the proposition from a Christian standpoint, which, ultimately, I believe, is the “life” standpoint. As a Christian, I refuse to believe that God loves and cares about me, but somehow doesn’t care about my happiness. Once again, if I said I care about, say, my best friend, but didn’t care about his level of happiness, can I really say that I care about him? Sure, I can rationalize and try to be “moral” and “preachy” and tell him all the reasons why what makes him happy is wrong. But the idea that being happy itself is wrong is, quite simply, just wrong to me. Incorrect.
Because, as I have said, I don’t desire debating, I’d rather not go into too much detail into what it is that I want. As I’ve said, I know I’ll get a billion different reasons as to why I shouldn’t want what I want, or why I’ll never get it, etc. etc. Of course, I write about what I want all the time, but I want to defend wanting itself in this piece.
Despite the fact it will always be the case that I will never be completely satisfied always, this does not mean that there is something wrong with wanting in general. I sincerely hope more people discuss this (I’m probably just looking in the wrong places) and understand that every thing we do is an attempt to satisfy some want. I hope more people will become more comfortable with expressing and accepting their honest feelings about wanting. While I certainly understand the phrase “You can’t always get what you want”, I reject the notion that what I want doesn’t matter. I implore everyone else to believe the same thing for themselves.
And people trying to tell you that what you want doesn’t matter or is impossible to achieve will only make the satisfaction of that desire all the more sweet. (Let’s say that what you want is impossible to achieve, and you finally realize this, and change course of action. …Who cares? Who should be the one to decide when one should change course of direction, and to which direction?) That’s a gigantic motivation for me, personally. I want to prove people wrong that say I’m never going to succeed at what I want to succeed at. More than anything. Almost more than the success itself. “What do you possibly have to offer to the world, Cody?” Let’s just wait and find out, shall we?
Life is a learning process because we aren’t omniscient. Our wills drive us. Our entire lives will be battles between satisfying our desires and the desires of others, and not satisfying our desires nor the desires of others. Human interrelations are so complex that it is seemingly impossible to discuss all of its nuances. Sometimes, we do good, and other times, we do evil. Sometimes, we helplessly make things worse, while other times, we do good accidentally. I don’t really have any good way of explaining why things are the way they are between us all. I’d be highly skeptical of the one that says he does have a good way of explaining it. When you get right down to it, ultimately, the answer to the question “Why?” does seem to come down to: “It just is.” But we should all ask “Why?” as often as we are comfortable with asking, and, for me, that’s quite a bit. Why are many people content with not doing so? Who knows. “They just are.” But if they proclaim, from a deeply philosophical sense, that my wants (or anyone else’s wants, for that matter) simply don’t matter, they are wrong from multiple standpoints. In my opinion, they are taking the easy way out because they themselves are miserable, and that’s the great tragedy behind all of this. I may not know why some men commit heinous evils while others do not, but I can be thankful that I don’t want to commit evil, and I can be thankful for the others that feel that way as well. I am thankful that we don’t all want to be evil, even though, inevitably, it will slip out from all of us, from time to time, to varying degrees. That’s the best I can hope for while I’m alive: that our evil doesn’t destroy us too much. That remains to be seen, but I’m hopeful. Of course, I’m not in a gulag, so that’s easy for me to say now. If I were, I probably wouldn’t be as hopeful. But, in the long run, maybe that’s all we have: hope. Because we want good, even when we create bad. (I reserve the right to be pessimistic, especially for comedic purposes).
Why do we desire to express ourselves with other human beings? What is this desire to “express”? What are we looking for? Why is it so natural, and so human? Why are we social creatures? Why don’t we exist without the ability, nor even, without the desire to express? Why aren’t we isolated atoms, unconscious, incapable of introspection, and without a sense of belonging? Why does the painter paint? The writer write? The musician music? Why is this how we are?
Interestingly enough, not only do we desire to express, but we desire to consume. I think it is fair to say that, for most, the desire to consume is greater than the desire to create: or, rather, that there are more consumers than there are producers. It seems as if there are more listeners of music than players, readers of books than writers, watchers of movies than actors, etc. Clearly, given the fact that we have minds, we desire stimulation for our minds. For some, this comes in the form of sexual violence, or other unspeakable evils. For others, this comes in the form of books. Human interaction of some kind is always desired at some time or another, whether the interaction be constructive or destructive.
Despite how natural this fact is, it still puzzles me. Indeed, it seems as if those facts most “factual” puzzle me the most. Questions with an answer “It just is” puzzle me the most. I ponder those most often. Their simplicity causing the most confusion. “But why?”
It would be fair to say that, obviously, considering the fact that each of us as humans is an independent entity, with individual desires, that we have different reasons for expressing ourselves. But yet, we share a common humanity, in that we desire human connection. Speaking for myself, I find most of this human connection unsatisfactory; and I would imagine the same is true for many. Sure, you see people as you drive down the road, but do you really want to converse with them all? Flag them down just for a chat? Clearly, we ignore a majority of people that we are aware of. Because we feel as if we do not need to engage in deeper levels of interaction to achieve what it is we are looking for from human communication. This exists on a spectrum, of course, as most, if not all human desires and actions do. Some are more willing to talk to strangers than others. But still, we all need some form of human interaction. And I just find that weird, even if, admittedly, it is a “given”. We’re all looking for something, and we are all going to experience the ebbs and flows of success and failure in achieving that “something”.
I suppose that expression, at least in my case, is not always about human interaction, nor communication, but rather a desperate attempt to speak. The desire to speak (mainly through writing) often overwhelms me. I don’t know why. I don’t care about the feedback. But yet, I still speak. What am I looking for from other people? Do I not write for others to read? Why do I want them to read? Why do I want them to read if I don’t want to read what they write in response? And is that actually true? Do I hate all responses to my writing? Do I enjoy any responses to my writing? And if so, what kind? Clearly, I enjoy feedback that says the reader “enjoyed” the work. I enjoy any positive feedback, as all creative people do. But that isn’t why I express. I don’t express to say “I can’t wait for that positive feedback.” No, I just have something to say. Something to “get off my chest.” Whether praised or critiqued, I have a desire to express myself.
We all have people whom we enjoy listening to. And we all have people whom we enjoy speaking to. But what of, say, people like writers? Musicians? We don’t write simply for our closest friends. We write to “the world”. To anyone willing to take the time to read, or listen. Why? My first thought is something cheesy, like “Making the world a better place.” Do I really believe that to be true in my case? For one, I don’t think my work is good enough for that currently to be the case. Do I desire for that to be the case in the future? Yes, I would say that I do. Of course, there is an economic aspect involved in expressing “for the world”, as “the world” has money. But I think it is fair to say that many, if not most “artists” express regardless of the money. There’s something about expression that we need. We were given thoughts, and we were given an ability to speak. It may very well be that it’s simply our nature to be expressive, regardless of how we are received.
There’s many different ways I could go with this. The quality of what is being expressed (if, say, what is being expressed is an attempt to convince others what ethics should be practiced). What is expressed at expression (“reaction” to an “initial” expression). The soul is desperate to speak out. I think this is simply a matter-of-fact, no matter how puzzling that fact is to me.
People risk their lives for expression. Many value expression more than their life itself. When one is deprived of human rights, the desire to speak out against that is overwhelming. The victims are letting the oppressors know that they are not going to take it anymore; that they are going to take a stand. Of course, their masters are expressing themselves as well: telling their slaves that their own slavery is good for them. Once again, expression is not necessarily ethical. There are various motivations for expression. But, nonetheless, the desire to express remains, whether one be introvert or extrovert; criminal, good Samaritan, or both.
In addition to, in my own case, being interested in my own reasons for being expressive, I am interested in how “expressions” are “received” in general. Everyone has types of music that they dislike, or artists, or songs. The musician has reasons for creating the music he or she does. And that music is either liked or disliked by any particular individual. It’s weird to me. Individualistic diversity will always puzzle me. I accept it as a reality, but it bothers me that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly understand it.
Why speak if few listen? Why speak if you ignore the listeners? Human interaction is a very weird, intricate thing. Musicians create songs that people love. And people buy albums, memorabilia, go to concerts, etc. Sometimes, millions of people are involved (more than that, if you consider the people who aren’t “fans” who are aware of the band’s existence, express that they don’t enjoy their music, etc.). And, typically, the musicians are very thankful to all of the people who financially support them. But, clearly, they can’t have a “one-on-one” conversation with each and every one of them. However, I guess, in some ways, they do have a “one-on-one” conversation with each of them. They sing the songs that the listeners enjoy, and the listeners voice their support of the music either by cheering or by purchasing their products. But yet, I think you get what I mean. It isn’t the same as sitting at McDonald’s with your best friend, talking about religion, financial situations, etc. The communication is a bit weird, but at the same time, is natural. Assuming that the song was not created simply to sell (meaning the musicians derive some independent, artistic pleasure from the creation itself), they sing. Whether they be rich or poor, they sing. They express. What are they looking for? Money is an obvious first answer. But there’s often more than that. There’s something else. A receiver? Who, and why? Why does the writer desire readers, and the musician listeners? If you take money out of the equation, why would we write? Why would we make music? We could make music that we enjoy, and try to share that joy with others. Perhaps that’s what it is, to a certain extent. “This makes me happy: does it make you happy too?” An attempt to spread “joy to the world.” Maybe it truly is an attempt to “make the world a better place.” Of course, there is a way to spread “joy to the world” that isn’t self-fulfilling. You can be unhappy while “making the world a better place.” Say, you’re a doctor, and you do good work. You can still hate your job despite the fact that your work is helpful, and “makes the world a better place.” But, I think often, expression is simply meant to make the expressor feel good; and who could say no to the others that happen to enjoy it as well? I think that’s as simple as it comes down to: basic joy. I’m not willing to ask the question why it creates joy, nor why joy is a desired result (especially as the latter question is absurd: one of those “it simply is” answers, even though I typically do enjoy asking those questions. I’m done with it here, however). One of these days, I attempt to have a body of work that fully explains my philosophy regarding happiness and the purpose of life.
Time to get back to the next piece of writing, whatever it is, struggling to find the best words to convey my thoughts that I feel worth sharing.
Humanity has an aversion to happiness, and I can’t figure it out. Conservatives tell you that holiness is more important than happiness (as sin can make one happy, and that leads to eternal damnation), and other people, generally unhappy, will tell you countless reasons as to why “There are more important things in life than being happy.” Taking care of your family, your job, etc. Any time you talk about happiness, what makes you happy, and how you plan on achieving it, a million people will give you a million reasons why you shouldn’t do it. Now, I’m not saying they shouldn’t. I’m not saying many of them do not bring up valid points. But the argument that happiness shouldn’t be the ultimate goal is, quite frankly, just wrong. I will go to my grave believing that we exist to be happy. I’m not saying we always will be happy. But we exist to attempt to maximize our happiness. We do things in an attempt to be “happy”. All action we take is an attempt to satiate some desire, whether it be to not be hungry, to not be bored, etc. And we desire to be full, to be entertained, etc., not only to live, but to be happy, as one who is depressed cares not for these things, but only to die, as one believes that will finally be an end to the sadness they feel (which, it should be clear, is the antithesis of happiness; so they are attempting to be happier than they are currently).
Everything we do on a regular basis is an attempt to bring us joy, even if only relative to a current state of being (for example, but by no means the only one, a “coping mechanism”).
We don’t exist to serve God if it makes us miserable (I explain my position on the relationship between religion and happiness later in this piece); we don’t exist to have a family if the thought of having kids makes us want to kill ourselves (if we don’t want to have a family, but do anyway, perhaps we’ll change our mind and care for the kids. But what if we don’t? What if we resent our children, and only create miserable kids and shitty adults? Is that the reason for our existence? Of course not); we don’t exist to be rich if we can never figure out how to obtain it. The only thing that makes sense is happiness. There is no other satisfactory reason why we act. We act to satiate desires. And we desire because…well, we just DO. We exist, we desire, and we act. This is what we do, every single day, for our entire lives. We act to satiate desires, and we desire to be happy above all else. I do not think this is deniable. What does one want besides being happy? And what answers could you provide that aren’t ultimately an attempt to make the one trying to achieve them happy? What could one possibly do that isn’t an attempt to satisfy some unmet desire, which would make one more content than they were before, i.e., happy?
Hell, even family is not a more important value than being happy. I’m not saying that families will always get along, or that they’ll always tell you what you want to hear. But if your family doesn’t make you happy more often than not, then FUCKING DITCH THEM (thankfully, I’m not in that position). If your family abuses you, then you don’t need your family. You may wish that they were “normal”, because you want to have them in your life to have a “happy family”, but just because you are related to someone doesn’t mean you need to keep them in your life if they make you miserable. If they abuse you, ditch them if you can. Your mental health is more important than some moralistic (perhaps religious) duty to family. It will then become your choice to figure out what you think will make you the most happy, and then go for it.
Every person has individual things that make them happy. And the point of life is to do those things as much as possible. “I’m unhappy at my job, Cody. Should I quit?” Obviously, you think that the job that you have will provide you better with what you want and need than would be the case without the job, as evidenced by the fact you are still working there. I’m not saying life is a perfect paradise, whereby we’re always perfectly happy. But all human action is an attempt to satiate desires, as stated so eloquently by Mises in “Human Action”, and although a satiated desire may not ultimately make one happy, one takes action in an attempt to be more happy than one currently is. For what does one do when one is happy? If you are happy with how much money you have, and are happy with the items that you have, are you going to earn, or spend? If you eat all of your food, you are not going to try to get more until you are hungry. And if being hungry bothers you, you will eat. If it doesn’t, then you won’t. The point is that contentment gives you no reason to act. And you will not act unless you believe that you will benefit from the action in some way; i.e., that the action will make you “happier” than you were before, with “happiness” being no longer hungry, bored, etc.
Let’s talk about some “vices” for a second. There’s a counterargument that life is more important than being happy: that living longer is more important than being happy (which is quite odd, when you think about it). What do I mean by this? Just take a look at the “healthy crowd”. People who are very conscientious of their health are quick to tell others to give up junk food, smoking, drinking, etc. Of course, it is perfectly plausible (and, in fact, likely) that these “health nuts” are happy with their lifestyle; and, indeed, are happier than they would be without it. I don’t doubt that for a second. However, although it is generally accepted that most people would rather live longer than shorter, it is clear that “health” and “a long life” is not the main concern with many individuals (as judged by the actions they take). Many people eat unhealthy, or smoke, or drink to excess, and although there are many of those who do those things and are distraught by them, and either eventually quit or try to quit with help from others, there are many who don’t. Many people don’t care about the consequences. Maybe they don’t fully recognize them. Or maybe it actually is worth it to them (an absolute possibility). The point is that not all go the “health route”, and it isn’t because these humans are broken. It is because each individual has his or her own “value scale” (credit to Murray Rothbard in “Man, Economy, and State” for the term), whereby certain things make them happier than others, and they act upon these intrinsic, personal values. And if they’re happy, the best you can do is tell them what it’s doing to them, and that you wish for them to live longer rather than shorter, and then, their action is out of your hands. They will either take your advice or not, and that is that. A “long life” is not an ultimate value to be held in higher regard than the individual happiness of people living their own lives: to suggest otherwise, even if it does make people live longer, is, ironically, inhumane.
Yeah yeah yeah, you can eat unhealthy, face the health consequences when you’re older, and say “Shit. I wish I would’ve taken care of myself.” But is that the path that all should take? As I said, to many, it seems as if taking care of your health should be the “ultimate” life goal. Even if smoking, or drinking, or eating fast food makes people happy, what they should care about is being healthy. But what kind of fucking life is it to live long if you’re unhappy? Who wants to live a long, unhappy life? Of course, “Maybe if you tried running”, “Maybe if you tried this or that”, you say. But what if it doesn’t provide these individuals with the same feeling it provides you? What if they hate running, hate taking care of themselves, where you actually do care about taking care of yourself? Are these individuals “broken”? I certainly don’t think so. They have different values, and because they aren’t violating anyone else’s human rights, they have the right to live how they desire. You can put out as many PSAs you want about smoking and fast food, but if the people continue to smoke and eat at McDonald’s, then you can either continue with the PSAs or give up; whichever one you decide will satiate your personal desire the most. And, of course, the question is begged: “What if you smoked a cigarette? What if you tried a cheeseburger? If you didn’t try the first one, maybe you’ll like the second one.”
Of course, loved ones can be concerned, and try to convince you to stop. But the point is that a long life is not a more important value than happiness. This should be evident. How many of you have had an elderly family member who was dying, and ready to depart? Of course, you want them to stay because you love them, and you don’t want to lose them. But can you blame them for wanting to leave? Why do they want to die? Why are they ready to go? Obviously, they believe they will be happier dead than alive. Think I’m wrong? What other reason would one have for “letting go”? You go when you go, and, inevitably, it’s beyond your control. But who wants to die if they believe that whatever is after is worse than what they are experiencing currently? NO ONE. (Unless they somehow believe that what is worse will make them happier than they are currently, which is unlikely, although still possible, as I know how religious conservatives act on this Earth, where they try to “torture themselves for happiness” (or, rather, torture themselves and try to convince themselves that they are happy, perhaps due to a fear of going to Hell), etc.).
Being rich is not a more important value than being happy. Money for its own sake does nothing if it doesn’t make you happy. Wealth only matters if you believe that it helps you. If it doesn’t, then you will do something that you believe makes you happier with it. Perhaps it makes you happier to save it rather than to spend; to spend rather than to save; or give to others rather than to spend for oneself. But the point is that money does nothing for one if one is not able to obtain some sense of happiness from it. (They say that money can’t buy happiness, but I think that depends. Certainly, there are those that become wealthy, and either become more miserable or stay in the same state of misery they were before (assuming they were miserable beforehand). But, obviously, not everyone who becomes wealthy becomes unhappy because of it. To many, the money does make them happy, for various reasons, some of which may be the ones I mentioned above).
So why do I say that happiness is a virtue? For one, it is a reality that all humans attempt to achieve happiness. We all want to be happy. It’s probably harder for some to be happy than others. But that’s still the goal. That’s what we really want. We may not be able to control the death of a loved one, or a natural disaster, or a cancer diagnosis; Hell, we can’t always make ourselves happy constantly. But yet, that’s still what we strive for. We still try to make ourselves happy, through individualistic, diverse means. And if going to Heaven after you die is such a great paradise, and going to Hell after you die is a great torment, then I have to suppose that God actually cares about our happiness as humans (if He actually wants us to come to Christ, go to Heaven, and avoid Hell), and doesn’t want us to suffer (I mean, He created us in a fucking paradise, for Christ’s sake (no pun intended- that’s a lie)). I know that answer doesn’t satisfy atheists, but I’ll try to address that in a future piece.
The idea that God wants us to suffer, especially as a means to get into Heaven, is ludicrous. God did say that suffering was inevitable as a result of the Fall of Man. But He clearly didn’t want us to suffer, because He told us to not do what would cause that suffering in the first place. So clearly He cared. Of course, why He put the Tree there in the first place is a mystery, and it could be argued that He doomed at least some of us to failure; why even put the Tree there in the first place if He knew we were going to eat from it? That means that even before He created the world, He knew He was going to punish some percentage of the people that He would ultimately create. Why would He do that? “To make His justice known” seems to be the answer, and it could be argued that humans were just “caught up in the middle of it”. But, of course, we are sinners, so there is clearly guilt on our part. But why were we ever even given a chance to suffer? Why was that even created? In other words, what is the origin of sin? Why not a perfect paradise with no Tree? Indeed, why even exist on Earth at all, and not be created directly into Heaven? Of course, that begs the question: why even be created at all? And, of course, why did sin ever exist? Why were we able to do it? These are the questions I’m going to have to ask Him after I die, if I can. Perhaps they’ll be immediately revealed to me after I die. Only after I die will I know for sure.
There are those of you that will tell me not to ask those questions. There are those of you that will say that I’m wasting my time, asking questions that, more than likely, I’ll never know the answer to. Some of you may say that I’m treading on thin ice around God, and that if I keep it up, the Earth is going to open up, and I’m going to be swallowed by it, forever burning. And, although I do accept that not everyone will ask questions of God like I do, and will have different opinions about the “meaning of life”, I have to ask those so-called Christians, who question my desire to ask the Almighty intimate questions: if God loves me, and sent His Son to die for my sins, and He cares for me, why would He not care about my deepest concerns? Why wouldn’t He care about my doubts and my questions? Why wouldn’t He care about my problems with Christianity? If God didn’t care about me, I’m sure He’d say what YOU say: “Stop asking those foolish questions, boy. Don’t doubt me.” And yet, I haven’t been thrust down into the eternal burning chasm yet. Perhaps He’ll throw me in there tomorrow (I doubt it (wait…isn’t doubt a “triggering” word?)). But I bet He won’t. Perhaps He could help me accept those things that I can’t understand. Perhaps I’ll have a heart attack tomorrow. Anything is possible; only the Almighty knows for certain. But, the best that I can figure, there is no greater goal to work for on this Earth than happiness.
To continue: We were put on this earth as individuals, and the natural individuality of all human beings just so happened to also be diverse. Therefore, there is no universal blueprint. There is no universal blueprint to obtain “happiness”. There are only individuals with desires, a framework known as “reality” (more specifically called “science“; or, at least, “truth“), and individual means used in attempts to obtain individual ends. Then, “success” or “failure” is measured by each individual actor.
Someone might say “But Cody, what if raping people makes you happy? What if killing people makes you happy?” For one, I would argue that one isn’t really happy if they rape or kill. I know that sounds odd to many. But I think that people who do those things are so far removed from humanity that “happiness” is not an emotion that they can actually feel: much like love. You may say that they “love” to rape and kill. And it would be hard for me to argue against that. But I think it consumes them more so than providing them any sense of joy. They may not be tortured, but they’re just lost. They can’t feel, so they just destroy. I know that’s not a good answer to many, and I understand the argument that they do enjoy their vicious natures. But I think, ultimately, they are tormented by them. They are experiencing Hell on Earth, and they’re sharing that Hell upon others (I suppose that means that I believe that a feeling of “Hell” is diverse and individualistic as well. I can’t provide as much evidence for that, however. But I know that the phrase “personal Hell” has been a common part of humanity’s lexicon (for exactly how long, I couldn’t say), and I wouldn’t be surprised if that applies intimately to each individual on Earth and also in Hell).
And what about love? Clearly, our family members, romantic partners, and friends don’t always make us perfectly happy. Children infuriate their parents, vice versa, and the same for romantic partners, and even friends. Clearly, the people in these relationships are not happy while this is going on. But yet, they still love their family and friends. Why? Because that love brings them some sense of joy. Love does not, and cannot, exist without joy. Joy is the connecting factor in the giving and receiving of love: if one did not enjoy the giving or receiving of love, then one would do neither. Despite all of the heartbreaks, and despite relationships that fail, love cannot exist without joy. Love is pointless without joy. If love was simply a connection to another individual who always hurt you, and never provided you with any joy whatsoever, then the purpose of loving anyone at all would be lost.
I’ll deal with the religious aspect of “happiness” and “duty” later (I’ve written a little about it here), but, as Martin Luther wrote in 1530: “Whenever the devil harasses you thus, seek the company of men, or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.”
To conclude, life without happiness is not worth living. Indeed, you’d hear something similar from those who killed themselves right before they died. Happiness is often seen as the antithesis of sadness, and it’s easy to see why: those who are happy want to live, and those who are sad want to die (of course, it exists on a spectrum). There are other emotions, such as anger, and anger can be a motivating cause for constructive action, or destructive action, so the happy-sad dichotomy is not perfect. But, I believe that the facts that happiness is the most pleasant emotion that we can experience, the information I have presented about Christianity, where I believe that God actually does care for our happiness, and the couple of examples I gave of possible arguments against my position are at least enough to get you to consider what I have said for yourself, and perhaps even enlighten you. At least I have stated my honest opinion about this subject, which was my purpose.
(You REALLY don’t want to know how excruciating this was to organize. I know this is a sign of things to come with my writing, and I want to fucking vomit as a result).
When you like someone’s work, you attribute all of these characteristics to them.
And then, you want to embody those characteristics for yourself, so that you can attain their level of success by making others feel the way the “successful” person makes YOU feel…