Why we are only happy when it rains.

I read Cracked a lot.  I like laughing while I find out things I didn’t know about before.  I was wondering how I could breach a subject I have not touched on before and exactly what that subject would be as I was deciding on what to bring to you fine folks today, when I read this ire-inducing article.  It made me mad, but that is precisely its subject: why we get so mad about our societies.  I got mad at what he was saying: that we actually have it pretty good and we like to complain.  I realized that the people he was talking about included me.  I have stated many of these things before.  I still believe them too.  But we do indeed live in an angry society, both sides of the political fence. I see a lot of it on Facebook, write and read about it on this site, hear about it on the news and Daily Show, swim in it daily.  This is what I want to talk about: Why we have a need to be angry with a current state of being.

I laugh when co-workers complain about not getting enough hours while complaining about having to be there in the same breath.  But we all do it.  As soon as we reach another level of progress, we find something wrong and push for some new level of justice and progress.  We do it here on this site often with GMOs, Immunizations, Corporations and the like.  But that is what pushes us up to the next paradigm; the next level of justice and compassion.  This dissatisfaction pushes us to look for something better.  And there is always something better.  No matter how perfect we think the new innovation is, there is always a next level.  On first glance, this is disheartening and cynical.  But let’s take another look.

As David Wong points out (go back up there and read the article!  It is worth your time.): we are only really happy when we are unhappy.  What really matters is whether we sit and be angry about it or we figure out what to do about it.  Sometimes that means working within the system to better your situation, like working in a job you hate for not a lot of money, or reading the other side’s point of view.  Over and over and over have we discussed perception.  I am not even going to bother linking to articles we have posted on this. The whole paragraph would be links.  We can only see our little section of reality.  What we see is colored by the position we are in and the people we are around all of the time.  So our worries and complaints and concerns stem from where we are standing, how we are standing, and what we see directly above us.  It is human nature to desire what is above and in front of us.

Yes, I want a Star Trek society (Go up there and click on the link and read the article!), but I have no idea how to reach it.  I, however, am optimistic that it is somehow within reach.  I sincerely believe that everyone deserves a home, medical treatment, and clean food and water.  Maybe a telephone.  I don’t believe that it will make society perfect.  I don’t believe that it will end any of the ills that are endemic to our societies; it will just push us up into the next level of what passes for the social contract.  Will everyone having the basic needs of survival end theft, murder, corruption? No.  But it will change the Who and Why of criminality. Will it end ambition? No. But it will change the starting point.  Will it encourage unemployment? No.  It just changes the consequences a little.  Instead of living on the street, you would be living in an unadorned house with basic food and clean water.  Humanity looks up.  We see what we have and we want more.  We always want to move the baseline, and that is why we don’t live in trees anymore.

Conflict is the necessary precursor to change.  Cataclysm, real or imagined, propels us to seek a new stability.  If an outside conflict isn’t occurring, we create one. We create a state of dissatisfaction; we get bored with what is now common to us. This is why none of the basic social problems (7 deadly sins, war, political corruption) really ever go away, no matter how we progress.  Read about fictional utopias (Aldous Huxley comes immediately to mind, with H.G. Wells in quick second), there is always a horrible secret that destabilizes the whole utopia.  As upsetting as this is to us, we are never done journeying in our own lives, which means (in our current evolutionary state) we are never done journeying as societies.  We will always be anxious to push the benchmark forward, and at the same time hold the benchmark still or push it back into pre-established territory.  This is really at the heart of most social arguments regardless of government politics: defining what desirable progress is.  Genetic Modification is neither wholly good nor wholly bad.  It needs vastly more research (good empirical, objective research). I mostly dislike that nature can be patented with GMOs. I feel the same way about vaccinations; patenting and that more real non-political research needs to be done.

So in a way, Mr. Wong is right: we are most happy when we are unhappy.  But I would restate it thus: We are most happy when we can see our next benchmark. We called the Infinity Path the “Infinity” Path for a reason.  It never ends. It is infinite. As soon as we hit our goal, our perceptions shift so that we can see the next goal and we want to reach that one. Each climb lets you see more.  And want more. And more, ad infinitum. So keep reaching for the next benchmark, knowing that it too will have problems and consequences and people who hate it.  So you can keep seeing the next one.

About Nathan

Hi! I am Nathan! So why am I here? That is my main question. I am fascinated by the current wave of science meeting with the philosophical questions throughout history. I am a Taoist and a disorganized dreamer who makes up new words to describe states of being and thought processes. I love to bring to you these simple yet powerful little inspirations and truths. I believe that each one of us is infinitely important and we are all connected. As Carl Sagan put it, “We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself.” We might be all connected, but you are still you. It is your perceptions that shape your reality. So join me in changing perceptions!

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