What happiness is not

Earlier this week I pointed out the numerous flaws in a “news” release ranking states as places for journalists to work. (Which included a huge math error.)

Maybe I was grumpy about that because I had to write a story about making objective and societal the subjective and individual definition of happiness. (Really.)

The good thing about my job is that while I am required to write objectively about what I cover, I can also add my two cents worth in the appropriate place. Which I did.

Several years ago I passed on an opinion from a Roman Catholic priest who quoted C.S. Lewis as saying that there is no right to happiness, only to, as the Declaration of Independence says, pursue happiness. He concluded:

So we do not have a right to be happy. The assumption that we do lies behind the utopian turmoil of our times. The attempt to guarantee our right to be happy invariably leads to economic bankruptcy and societal coercion. By misunderstanding happiness and its gift-response condition, we impose on the political order a mission it cannot fulfill. We undermine that limited temporal happiness we might achieve if we are virtuous, prudent, and sensible in this finite world.

The column mentions retired UW Band director Mike Leckrone’s phrase “moments of happiness.” (Which he didn’t come up with until after I graduated. Which makes me think my leaving may have been one of his “moments of happiness.”) The column mentions that in the past few months I’ve had a few, including two sportscasting firsts (announcing the right team in a state football championship game and announcing an Illinois substate game), performing at Leckrone’s final three UW Varsity Band concerts, and seeing Chicago with my trumpet-, trombone- and guitar-playing sons.

I suppose my own definition of temporal happiness could be listening to this and this while driving a Corvette with Mrs. Presteblog as passenger on a beautiful summer day, perhaps on the way to or from eating a bacon cheeseburger, steak or shrimp, on the way to or from announcing a sporting event. But I think the aforementioned priest has it right when he says that there is no guarantee of earthly happiness.

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