Glenn K. Beaton is a writer and columnist living in Aspen. He has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, RealClearPolitics, Powerline, Instapundit, American Thinker and numerous other print, radio and television outlets.
Well, no, you shouldn’t. But here’s my point in asking the question.
These were great people. In launching the best nation in the history of the world, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
He served as the third president of that nation, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, sent Lewis and Clark across the continent and put the nation on a path to become a beacon of freedom to the world.
Yes, he owned slaves, as did many people throughout the world at that time. But in his intellect, his morality and his words, he set the stage for the abolition of that ancient heinous practice four score and seven years later.
Our parents’ generation had no time to pursue happiness. They were too busy saving the world.
But the blood, sweat and tears sacrificed by “the greatest generation” in saving the world wound up making them happy, too.
Their offspring — a generation that has bled less blood, perspired less perspiration and shed fewer tears than any generation in history — perceive “happiness” differently. They see happiness not as the incidental effect of a life lived well. For them, it’s the whole purpose of life.
“Happiness” is all we want. Our parents became happy by being great. We, in contrast, think we can become great by being happy.
We don’t exactly know how to achieve our happy goal, but we think we know how not to. “Happy life,” we happily theorize, must be the opposite of “hard work.”