>Happiness Is Not The End

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I was outraged to read the opening article in the May 9-15, 2011 issue of BusinessWeek (
which I usually greatly respect): “Why Bin Laden Lost.”
Here are some of the “highlights” from Businessweek:
“The United States has no purpose. That is perhaps its greatest achievement…the United States was not founded for the greater glory of anything.”
– “The most successful organizing principle the world has ever known is a simple guarantee that we can buy and do things that have no point greater than the satisfaction of our own happiness.”
– “We human follow base and pedestrian needs…Freedom. Self-determination. Democracy. All of which are means to an end. For us humans, the end is almost always just a house.”
– “You might consider embracing what defeated him. Do something private and ridiculous, something that answers no creed. Pursue happiness.”
Yes, we won the battle against Osama Bin Laden this week, but the war is not over.

Bin Laden’s henchmen are already forswearing that they will turn our joy to sorrow.
Why?
Because the clash of ideas and principles remain.
One one hand, we have belief in mandated, restrictive religious sharia law and the return to a 7th century caliphate (i.e. government of the people–the state is supreme) and on the other we have principles of freedom to choose–how to worship, what to say, what to publish, when to gather etc. (government for the people–the people are supreme).
With the Spring Uprising in the Middle East, it seems that the people are leaning toward the latter, although there is much work to be done to transition from the former.
Bloomberg Businessweek’s article misses the whole point of our great democracy and the freedoms it provides.
Rather than being a society whose end and purpose is simply to “shop until we drop” and that is free to orgy itself on prosperity, physical pleasures, and materialism, we are about so much more.
The United States and its partners do have a purpose.
No, we are not a society that mandates a certain religion or in fact any religion, we leave that to for the individual to choose. But we are a society of laws, principles, and belief in freedom to choose one’s destiny.
Not everyone chooses well, but that is part of the freedom to learn from our mistakes and grow.
The end, for most good and upstanding citizens of this country and others, is to be driven by principles and righteousnesssuch as human rights, curing the ill, feeding the hungry, rescuing the downtrodden, innovating and creating opportunity, and building stronger personal protections and cultural institutions.
I think it is sad that Bloomberg endorsed exactly the view that the terrorists hold of us — a view that is shallow and wrong.
We do not focus exclusively on the “pursuit of happiness,” rather that happiness is a means to a higher end. Similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which begins with physical survival and proceeds to self-actualization through connection with others and giving back.

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