2008/03/18

Is Happy Stupid?

This is a blog about questions and clarity, and I have a question.

WHY, I'd like to know, do we think it's "smart" or "savvy" or "caring" or "knowing what's really going on" when we're doom-saying? Why is happiness stupid? Is happiness stupid?

I'm sure you've seen the bumper sticker But is this any way to go through life? Blind to the blessings and opportunities and joys and pleasures because the bad stuff is, you've decided, what's "really" going on? Why isn't the good stuff what's really going on? Why isn't it "if you're not GRATEFUL you're not paying attention"?

Especially here, in the pampered, spoiled West! Why do we, of all people, find bad news easier to believe than good news? What is it confirming for us?

And howcome the people with the most blessings are the ones doing the most complaining about the state of the world? Do they think they made things safe and happy before? Do they think it's their job to do that now? Do they think it's even possible to make everything in the circumstances of the world safe and happy?

I fought this battle and had this debate and sorted this whole thing out for myself when I was a teenager. There was just too much doom saying for it all to be true. And I'm sorry, but if you're a high schooler, and "this is the best time of your life," then just shoot yourself after graduation. If it doesn't get better after high school, then we can just all give up now. "Shoulda taken a rock and killed myself years ago." (Cher, in Moonstruck -- "is that all I'm ever gonna have? Bad luck?")

But it's NOT TRUE. Life didn't get worse after high school! For cryin out loud! The whole world of opportunity opened up after graduation. Okay, okay, I tanked my wide world down the hole of an unaccredited fundamentalist college, but even that was a wider world than high school.

Maybe that's what it is. Maybe it's the wideness of the world that bugs people. Old people get like that sometimes. Crochety. Unwilling to take in any more information. Like Bertie Wooster, it seems they "can't do with any more education. I was full up years ago," they say. So instead of finding all the reasons change is good, we doomsay. We whine. We cope with an ever-changing world by noting all the bad stuff we can find, and declaring that we have thereby found "proof" that the world is worse than it used to be, back when we were happy. Back when we didn't have to deal with all "this." (Never mind that all "this" was around back then too -- never mind history -- I didn't see it -- so it wasn't there.) We seem to think that the "wise" part of the three wise monkeys was in their refusal to take in any new information at all.

Well, phooey! I still come to the same conclusions I came to as a teenager.

Yes, there's bad stuff. Yes, there IS a very real and very heart-breaking "anguish of the world" I want God to heal. I ask Him to. I know it's there. When I find it in my path, I take action to alleviate the pain.

But I also know a whole bunch of other stuff.

I know that heroes large and small wage war against this anguish, and that their heroism is a grand and glorious thing. Heroes make my tears flow - in the glorious grandeur of their fight. In the joy of it.

I know that after the dormant, frozen bleakness of bare branches and after the stillness of the wintry mornings, spring comes again. I've seen 47 of these springs now. I've learned my lesson. Yes, there's winter. And then there's spring. That's what I insist on saying as the end of the sentence. There is spring. Today, I can almost hear things growing out there -- I can almost hear the sound of all the budding branches, and the reaching toward the teasing and occasionally visible sun.

I know that a child's baby teeth fall out. Right now, I know a little girl who is currently growing in EIGHT of her front teeth! All at the same time! She's not crying over the loss of those baby teeth. Her mom might've. Her mom might be noting the passage of time and the temporary and quickly passing innocent years of childhood. But the kid knows the truth! Eight missing front teeth means she's getting bigger. And bigger kids can do all kinds of stuff that the babies can't do.

Yes, there is darkness in the world. Of course there is. We can all see it.

But there is Light. And there's no such thing as a darkness so strong that even the smallest light is extinguished by it. And Light is good. Yes, there is darkness. But there is Light. And the darkness is not more real. Love is stronger than Hate. Life is stronger than Death. Light is stronger than the Dark. Today, I can almost hear the budding branches sing the ancient song of praise to the Light.

2 comments:

Polly said...

I also rail against "it's worse than it's ever been" statements and "we're going to hell in a handbasket."
Human nature doesn't change - media coverage just gives it all to us. There have always been child molesters and other monsters - we just hear more about it these days.
There is no paradise this side of heaven, so just make it a great day in your little corner!

Love,
Pollyanna

Douglas Bienert said...

I would like to point out that:

-this is a bumper sticker, on a car

-if you are busy being outraged,
your not paying attention... TO YOUR DRIVING!