Saturday, January 9, 2010

Right to Happiness?

So the main question is this: Do we have the right to happiness?

First of all, I want to define what happiness is. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, happiness is “A pleasurable or satisfying experience”, but I want to add to that that it is an experience that brings momentary pleasure and momentary satisfaction. This happiness then, in my opinion, is an earthly thing.

Then do we have the right to pursue happiness? I don’t know about having the “right”, since it’s not something we can demand because we have no real ownership of it (the owner is God), but I believe we are permitted to do so because of God’s grace. Small pieces of temporary happiness are a gift to be enjoyed while our lives last. We are left to be happy by certain correct means, but not eternally, since that is promised to happen in “Home”. However pursuing happiness does not mean pursuing it by any means necessary, but by “lawful means,” which obey two kinds of laws: The law of the state (nation’s law) and more importantly, the law of nature (God’s law) which permits to judge the laws of the state.

Now regarding sexual happiness, Lewis write that he disapproves how sex is treated as an exception among other impulses. He puts it like this, “It is like having a morality in which stealing fruit is considered wrong- unless you steal nectarines.” Lewis specifies that he does not have anything against sex itself but the way it is pursued.

Therefore pursuing sexual happiness by any means is wrong. “It’s an offense against honesty… Against good faith, against gratitude… and against common humanity.” The author uses the example of a man who has abandoned his wife because her looks faltered, and has married another. He is pursuing sexual happiness by being self centered and superficial. However such happiness (as any other happiness) cannot last. And soon enough, the man will repeat his previous action, and will never find real happiness. The only ones who can achieve, if not “lasting”, the best quality of happiness are those who are “great lovers” and “good people” whom are in turn described as “controlled, loyal, fair-minded, mutually adapted people.”

Finally there are two things Lewis also mentions that are related. First of all, he talks about women’s disadvantage at pursuing happiness. And though, it offends some, I must say that it is the sad reality. Although not all women only search for “domestic happiness”, it’s true that they are more often the victims than the culprits.

Lewis also gives the readers a serious warning. Though in the start sexual happiness may be the only one among impulses exempted from its bad behavior, slowly, society might begin to make exceptions to other impulses. If there is a foot in the forbidden door that prevents the entrance from closing completely, it will end up wide open. Soon, Lewis claims, “our civilization will have died at heart and will.” If we let this happen, “civilization” will not be “civilization” anymore, but loose beasts. Let us prevent this by imposing self control and praying for guidance to not stray from the right path, and if we have already lost the way, to have the strength and courage to come back. True and eternal happiness is waiting on the end of this path.


  1. Ah Hee, I like that you mentioned that we don not have a "right" per-say to happiness because the ownership does not belong to us but rather to God. I also liked how you quoted Lewis' (what I would call) criteria on finding a good spouse: "controlled, loyal, fair-minded, mutually adapted people."

  2. Creo que tienes razón en lo que dices sobre la felicidad. La felicidad solo son momentos, no podemos esperar sentirnos así todo el tiempo, sino no sería tan especial para nosotros. También creo que tien mucho sentido lo que mencionas sobre la felicidad cuando estemos en "casa" . Nunca lo había tomado así, o sea no había relacionado ambos pensamientos , por eso me parece interesante.

    Supongo que lo que queda por ahora es disfrutar de aquellos pequeños momentos felices ^^. Al fin y al cabo, la vida es corta y los momentos felices son pequeños milagros y los debemos aprovechar.