Monday, May 26, 2008

May 26, 2008 Happiness is Not an Entitlement


Consider This for May 26, 2008-Happiness is Not an Entitlement

An entitlement is just that. It is something that everyone believes that he or she is entitled to in life. As Americans we all believe there are certain things that we are entitled to as we trundle around this big blue ball.

Many of our entitlements are found in our great United States Constitution. You can define for yourself what you believe the Constitution means by Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It is the last part that has most people stumped. It is the pursuit of happiness that is guaranteed in the constitution and not happiness itself. You are given the right to go after happiness but happiness is not guaranteed in the constitution or anywhere else. It kind of shatters the American Dream for some people.

I am now closer to 70 than 60. When you get as old as I am you have the opportunity to see how you did in the pursuit of happiness and how much the government did or did not have to do with that pursuit.

I have now lived in Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador for extended periods of time. In each country I lived with a local family and not in a hotel or any other place with the comforts of the United States.

You cannot believe the culture shock and how much you learn to appreciate your opportunity to pursue happiness in America.

Simple things like having hot water, central heat and/or cooling become very evident when they do not exist. Some things that we take for granted like a hot shower or being able to wash and dry your clothes are no longer available. You learn how to adjust very quickly.

I laugh when someone tells me about being in a third world country for a period of time and getting angry when room service can’t bring extra towels when asked. One friend of mine once told me that if I went to a certain country to stay I should take my own towels because the hotel never provided enough. I felt so sad for him and not the hotel or the country. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have been his mother. He was in his 50s and still acting like a demanding child.

I had one instructor in Guatemala who made $1 at day to teach me for eight hours. What she did at the school was considered a great job because many of her peers did not have any job. I did leave her a sizable tip when I left and when I asked her what she did with the money she told me that she had paid her water bill. She was married with four children and her husband did not work.

One of the classes that I teach is Sociology and I often consider each culture that I visit from the perspective of a sociologist. There is a danger when someone like me comes from a country like America and then makes comparisons. There are no comparisons. It is up to you to accept their culture, to never judge and to not try to change their culture.

One thing that is very obvious is that in our American culture that holds us together is our diversity. Believe it or not the lower class in our society is just as important as the upper class in making our country strong. The fact that we have a diverse society that includes a lower class, a middle class and an upper class is part of the glue that holds us together.

That is why there is a major danger in losing our middle class in resort communities the way it has happened in other Colorado resort areas.

In many third world countries there is no middle class. You are either extremely poor or extremely rich. There is no in between.

There is no true pursuit of happiness. You only have the pursuit of enough to eat for that day before you have to move on to finding food for the next day. How was your dinner last night? Did you get enough to eat? Did you find happiness?

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