The fatal fallacy of living a felicitous life alone

Posted January 1st, 2009 and filed in Human Condition, Life

The fatal fallacy of living a felicitous life alone is that it is not up to you. Anyone who strives for personal happiness only will inevitably find this happiness hindered or destroyed by forces over which he or she has no control, including one’s environment. Your food may be manufactured with hazardous, genetically modified ingredients; the air you breathe may be polluted; your neighborhood may not feel safe anymore after break-ins, robbery, kidnapping, shootings, or gang violence; you might get hit by a drunk driver; your kids may receive a bad education at school, suffer from bullying, be subject to the temptation of legal junk foods/beverages and illegal drugs; everywhere you may be provided with services of poor quality by heartless incompetents, from your house builder, your government, to even your doctor and dentist; a person may curse you when you are taking a walk because you are of a different skin color; your country may decide to go to war; another country may attack yours for oil, land, ambition, or religious difference. The ozone layer is getting thinner and the sunrays are becoming more harmful, causing skin cancer; rain forests, your ultimate oxygen supplier, are being destroyed at an alarming rate; species that constitute the genetic repository are being extinguished; the oceans are being over-fished; the deserts are spreading; the glaciers are melting; terrorism is rampant; fascism is reviving; civil liberty is being compromised; and so on and so forth. There goes your felicitous life.

The sooner you become aware of the problems on a larger scale, the better. Otherwise when disaster hits, you are just one of the casualties.

There is really no good life on your own. All your inputs are coming from the environment—people and nature around you, and all your outputs go into it.  You have to have relationships with your environment. Your relationships with other people and nature are less decided by your quality, more by their quality.

The world we live in is not a good one. It is not a world we want our children and grandchildren to live in. Since there is no self-contained, self-sufficient island of heaven to escape to, we had better work on changing at least one thing that does not make sense. Yes, one person cannot change the world. But it is not an excuse not to take action.

If we cannot live a felicitous life, at least let us live a meaningful one by striving to improve the possibility of individual felicity. Maybe we’ll have a better world in our lifetime. Maybe our children will, in a future too distant to us. Either is good. Our happiness will derive from our struggles and victories. Therefore it will be a happy life after all. We will have thus truly lived to our limits and answered the exigencies of our life.

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