Jefferson did not define what constitutes “happiness”. Consistent with his vision of individual liberty, he purposefully left this as the responsibility of each person. Individual happiness is not a political matter. It is not something that governments should prescribe, nor is it something that others should define for us. It is a matter of personal conscience and mission. It is precisely the kind of matter that our other social institutions, such as families and churches, should aid each of us in defining without leaning on any political mandate.
Yet despite not defining happiness, and despite excluding it from the domain of government to prescribe or to provide, Jefferson included “the pursuit of happiness” as a linchpin in our national vision. This implies that it has tremendous significance.
It does. Life requires meaning and motivation to serve as a frame of reference for all action, or else there would be no action. Why would anyone do anything at all if there is no purpose? Jefferson knew that dissertations about revolutions, rights, and constitutions are pointless if life itself has no meaning. The Declaration would have been just airy poetry if it wasn’t anchored to something transcendent.
Jefferson did not define what happiness should be for each person, because defining meaning for others is an impossible task and trying to do so violates the very essence of freedom. But his inclusion of the phrase “pursuit of happiness” with the other unalienable rights is a clear assertion that pursuing meaning is as fundamental to humanity as is life and liberty.
Jefferson rightly understood that the political and the metaphysical must at some point intersect, because the meaning of life and the proper structure of government are necessarily entangled. That is why the unusual phrase “the pursuit of happiness” is the Rosetta Stone of the Declaration and the foundation of the concept of America.
The Declaration is not a metaphysical document, except for that one phrase, but that one phrase is more than sufficient to establish the basis for an enduring politics of peace and non-coercion. The phrase does not express a religious truth, but it grants freedom for all spiritual pursuits. It does not express a psychological truth, but it grants freedom for all intellectual pursuits. It does not express a transcendent truth, but it grants freedom for the pursuit of meaning and purpose.
They’ve become addicted to irresponsibility and short-term gratification. They know games but not work. They know hedonism but not investment. They know fun but not happiness. They know victimhood but not success. They know slogans but not truth. They know pop culture but not morality. They know fantasy but not cause and effect.
For anyone not yet convinced of the dangers to civil society posed by divisive “isms” and ideologies, including religious dogma and the murderous results of forsaking the sovereignty of the individual, this book is a must read.
James Keena calls into question the notion that our society simply swings indefinitely like a pendulum between the political right and political left. He makes the case that allegiance to either faction will eventually lead to tyranny, oppression and death.
And that the solution always returns to individual sovereignty; not Darwinian rugged individualism. It starts with a true understanding that entropy is always fought at the individual level. No one can escape that responsibility; to do otherwise unfairly burdens others with your obligation.
Karma is not a boomerang, but a seed that either bears good fruit or poisons the tree. And the bonds made between individuals, families and friends which are based on love & respect & benevolence cannot be scaled to apply between millions of strangers.
The only way to ensure the reproducibility of peaceful collaboration on a large scale is for society to be based on the bedrock principle that the only just law is one that protects individual sanctity and does not tolerate coercion. We should not coerce or allow ourselves or others to be coerced.
I think you might like this book – “2084: American Apocalypse (The Pathless Land Series Book 1)” by James Keena.
Start reading it for free: https://a.co/6mBr6gE
We were told that millions were going to die in America if we didn’t shut down the economy to “flatten the curve” to prevent the medical system from being overwhelmed. Actually, after putting over 30 million people out of work, bankrupting countless businesses, and taking on trillions in new debt, we’re learning that the curves in states and countries that didn’t shut down “flattened” in almost the same manner as the curves in states and countries that did.“