Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thoughts on 'No Right to Happiness'

C.S. Lewis tells a story about two people getting divorces so they could marry each other. He was discussing the situation with a woman named Clare, who said that they should have a right to happiness. Lewis disagreed and examined her statement, wondering if anyone really has the right to happiness.

One of the first things he talks about is in the Declaration of Independence when it is stated that everyone has the right to pursue happiness. Lewis concludes that they clearly did not mean that the right of happiness comes before laws such as it is illegal to murder or steal. He began to wonder when it would be okay to pursue happiness. Lewis decided that people should remain within the laws of their country when pursuing happiness. Meaning it is not okay to murder someone just because it would make you happy.

Although Lewis does not discuss this too much it is implied that if you should follow the laws of your country before considering your own happiness you should also follow the laws of your religion. So a Christian should follow the teaching of Jesus and the Ten Commandments before considering his own happiness.

One should also consider the happiness of others. If you have a right to happiness everyone else should also have the same right and if everyone has the right to happiness is it your duty at all to worry about other people’s happiness or just your own? If so then Mr. A and Mrs. B should consider the happiness of their ex-spouses.

Lewis raises some interesting questions about whether or not being happy should be one of our goals. Personally I believe that if we follow the teaching of the Bible we will ultimately end up happy even though it might not be how our society defines happiness.

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