There is a saying, which I have never used for Saying of the Day, perhaps because it is so often spoken. How often have you heard, “How can you keep ‘em done on the farm, once they’ve been away?”? I’m certain that one or two returned to the farm, but most find a better life in another occupation at another place, usually less rural.
This saying came to mind as I worked in the garden and thought about my upcoming trip to Dubai. One often sees reports about foreign workers being exploited in a country with a small Arab/Muslim population and extreme economic growth. Many have surely left a farm to seek a better life or, at least, more money. Some are surely abused, especially in the building trades, but still earn more money than they good at home. Most, I’m certain, are happy to have a job to support themselves and families, mostly left behind in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, etc. In places frequented by tourists, one has the feeling that most are content...or good actors.
After some thought, I decided that leaving the farm is not the main problem in the United States. The problem is that some get to thinking. They notice that they have been sold a bill of goods about the American Dream. People emigrate to Dubai not chasing an impossible dream, but to earn a simple living. All know that they can never strike it rich or even make much progress, although advancement is possible in some branches. Contentment seems more prevalent in the artificial city in the desert than in some parts of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and disillusion is rare.
And I don’t mean the television series...
Freud found the pursuit of happiness to be a distraction from living. He felt that “it would be better to aim for something different: a type of life in which you do not need a fantasy of satisfaction in order to find being human an interesting and worthwhile experience”.
I learned this in John Gray’s The Silence of Animals, which is not a book for everyone. This requires a bit of thought, which is why the above quote caused me to think about the words of the US Constitution that “guarantee” the right to pursue happiness (left undefined). Of course, that was written long before Freund stirred up though and/or muddled human thinking. Many quote the Constitution; few have ever read Freud.
I do not recall ever consciously pursuing happiness. Mostly, I have been satisfied with my lot in life, which provides as mush “happiness” as I can handle.
America is a predominantly Christian country...or so the polls indicate.
Have you ever noticed how the values of the United States and the Christian religion (especially the Puritan sort of the founders) are incompatible?
The Declaration of Independence states, among other things, that "all men are created equal" and that they have "certain unalienable rights", such as "the pursuit of happiness".
I'm not going to get into the bit about being created equal, because that is a can of worms containing such fun topics for discussion like slavery, internment of Japanese, immigration, McCarthy, etc.
I want to focus ofnthe happiness bit. Puritans, and even their descendants, are known for their deathly fear that someone, somewhere might be having a good time or might be happy. These dour folks certainly must have made a mistake, or been absent on the day the document was written, because the two don't fit together. Christianity and happiness are not compatible, but both make up the foundation for the country. Perhaps that explains the success of pornography in the United States...