What had Thomas Jefferson in mind when he considered essential to add the right to the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence? Life and liberty were of course vital rights that the forefathers of this country had to fight for when the British army was abusing the colonists and the colonies weren’t allowed the sovereignty to decide their own destiny.
But the pursuit of happiness? I’d like to understand the intention behind the words. I believe that it was not about individuality and not about possessions. They were fighting for freedom and I am inclined to agreeing with those who think that they were referring to happiness that can only be achieved when you work for freedom and for the public good.
The pursuit of happiness is since the declaration of independence a goal linked to the American way of life. People have come to pursue happiness or what they believe happiness is through the most extraordinary ways. Money and fame have become avenues that supposedly take you to Heaven on Earth. But soon people realize money can’t buy happiness. People achieve riches and fame and they party, drink alcohol, consume drugs, have sex, all in pursuit of happiness. Every time they get a quick peak at a brief sensation of elation that feels to them like heaven, but because it doesn’t last they go for more of it until it become obsessive and destructive. They are always unsatisfied. Longing, always longing.
Divorce between the soul and the ego might be the big culprit of people’s lack of satisfaction. The soul is capable of experiencing utmost joy and peace. The ego is greedy and lonely and afraid. It can seek experiences that can elevate the body to the heights of elation or manic moods but cannot achieve joy on its own. Joy is a less intense experience, but more sustained.
The pursuit of happiness has been misunderstood. It’s not about the individual, but about the collective; it’s not about possessions but about achievements. It’s more about doing the right thing than a lot of things!