by Dave Skylark
The 1998 book “Happiness is A Serious Problem” by Dennis Prager says we have a moral obligation to friends, coworkers, and family to maintain a happy attitude out of respect for them, even when you don’t “feel like it.”
Prager doesn’t mean you have to be irritatingly cheerful. Nothing of the sort. This short book – 192 pages – has staying power. Trying to boil the book down to one phrase, I told a friend: “Happiness is your responsibility.”
“Huh,” he said. “it sounds kind of like a rightwing idea.” I tried to argue that the message of the book wasn’t political. Happiness, insomuch as not ruining another’s day, is not political. So here are three things that are not political.
1. Virtues, like responsibility, are not political. Faithfulness, Peace, Love, Joy, Kindness, Goodness, Humility, Patience and Self-Control. These are just a few virtues. I took these from the Bible, but that shouldn’t put off some non-Christians. Everyone would recognize these as positive characteristics for their children, or preferable qualities in a friend. There shouldn’t be one political party that “owns” one of these virtues. Whatever party you belong to, these virtues should not be seen as part of one party, and not the other. Self-Control, aka temperance, aka discipline is not political. It is essential.
2. Supporting law enforcement officers is not political. “I see people on their worst day, everyday.” That sums it up. This was a quote from a police officer who was in the job for many years, who had decided to retire this year. He was explaining to people who were outraged about police brutality and of the general hatred of cops that is socially acceptable today, why they need to stop it. ACAB, All Cops Are Bastards is a slogan of the protestors in the public square. It is disgusting. Both major political factions must denounce this. Law enforcement workers have been consistently ranked as the job with one of the highest suicide and divorce rates. Who would want the job? These people are imperfect heroes, doing a job most people would never want to do. Yet those same people who would never do the job feel no remorse about denigrating and attacking police.
3. Valuing families over the childless is not political. This one is going to seem out of left field to some readers, but think about it. Raising a family takes a lot more work than living a life of only waking up everyday and asking “what do I want to do to make myself happy? A childless life can be fun and exciting, but it does not benefit society as much as raising kids into responsible adults. This is a bigger piece of the puzzle than most people think. If you look at the people in this country that are most passionate about tearing down long-standing institutions of our society, the pillars of civilization, they usually have one thing in common: they are living for today, and not thinking of future generations, aka the fancy word, posterity.
We want to believe that the opinions of every individual hold the same weight, but its more complicated than that. Is it a coincidence that every president for over a hundred years had a family? No, I don’t think so. Republican and Democrat voters have thought, maybe even only subconsciously, that they would rather vote for a president who has had to raise of family of his own before we put him at the head of an even larger family structure, leading an entire nation. In fact, the only bachelor president, James Buchanan (1857-1860), did such a bad job that it ended in a freaking Civil War. It’s just not a good idea!