Thinking about happiness and unpleasantness by Mark A. Goldman

by Mark A. Goldman
Guest Writer
Dandelion Salad
www.gpln.com
August 5, 2011

Image by Collin David Anderson via Flickr

Thinking about happiness and unpleasantness

  • If you are committed to maintaining a clean house, you have to, from time to time, go around looking for dirt.  No one likes to clean, but if you don’t look for dirt you can’t clean up the mess, and if you don’t clean up the mess, you won’t live in a clean house.
  • If you ignore the liars, cheats, and thieves who take advantage of the weak and defenseless, they will become very successful at what they do.  And maybe if ignored they won’t stop, but will instead grow stronger, as long as they are able to continue to be successful at taking from others what doesn’t belong to them.
  • Slavery was part of the human experience for a long time.  It still is in some places.  Where slavery was ended, it was because some people decided not to allow it anymore.  Stopping it was a very unpleasant task.  Many people lost their possessions, their happiness, their health and their lives opposing it.  Those people made it possible for their grandchildren and other people’s grandchildren to live in relative freedom. If those people weren’t willing to make great sacrifices, how free would we and our loved ones be today?  In some sense, their sacrifice was also their happiness.  Postponing their happiness seems to me the only way their happiness ultimately could have been achieved.  I admit it was risky.  Sometimes you have to take a risk to find happiness.
  • If you want to live in a world where freedom and happiness is possible for everyone, it is important to engage in some amount of unpleasantness in order to insure that those who would take away everyone’s happiness don’t get the opportunity to do that.  If you don’t protect everyone else’s right to freedom and happiness, your happiness and your grandchildren’s happiness is at risk too.
  • From time to time each of us as individuals need to take a rest from the hard and unpleasant work of looking for dirt that needs to be cleaned up.   It’s important that while we rest, others continue the work of protecting everyone’s rights and freedoms.  If everyone takes a rest at the same time, the amount of dirt that might accumulate could become overwhelming to our later efforts to clean it up.  Too many parasites can kill a host.
  • We live in a world of limited resources but unlimited potential.  If too many people squander those resources then that puts limitations on what otherwise might be unlimited potential.  Large corporations and wealthy individuals have bribed those who have fiduciary responsibility to betray those responsibilities, so that now those corporations and individuals are able to destroy what does not belong to them for their own profit, such as in offloading their costs to society while reaping great temporary gains for themselves. The oceans are on the verge of collapse, natural resources are needlessly being squandered on current generations at the expense of future generations; the atmosphere is being warmed to the point where life might not be sustainable on this planet, and where great numbers of people will starve and be forced to live in poverty and degradation.
  • I don’t write what I write to take away your joy.  I write what I write so that you might be informed about what’s happening… that you otherwise might not be aware of or understand… so that you might take responsibility — if you are capable and in the space of being able to take responsibility — in order that more of the joy you do have is not stolen from you or those you love.
  • I don’t write for everybody.  If what I write depresses you or takes away your joy, I didn’t write what I wrote for you… I wrote it for someone else.  There are many people in my life who I don’t believe are in the space to make proper use of what I write.  I worry that what I write might confuse them or put them into a place of despair or hopelessness.  But I have to leave it to God to work with me on this, to help protect those who might read what I write, so that rather than depress them, my words might inspire them, or at least allow them to be at peace with it.  But how do I know what process they have to go through to arrive at an understanding that will allow them to act appropriately given their education, resources, and abilities to deal with the unpleasantness in the world that needs attention.  My understanding is limited.  I need that help.
  • How can I be sure that I am not doing more harm than good?  Well, I’m just doing the best I know how according to my own education and understanding.  Maybe I am a fool who needs to learn an important lesson in life.  I think I am trying my best to be responsible.
  • I realize that some of my writings and these comments are unpleasant for some to hear.  The question is, are they true and if so, what is the best way for a person to be a person.  How should one begin to think about what their place, their attitude, their philosophy of life should be in the world for the world to end up being the kind of place they hope it might one day be?
  • I sometimes feel like giving up, because I feel like I am sacrificing my life for nothing; that my sacrifice along with others who have been engaged in the unpleasant and unrewarding task of ringing the warning bell are falling on deaf ears or ears that are too sensitive for this kind of input… (warning that too much dirt is piling up for the relatively small number of people trying to clean it up to handle it by themselves).
  • I have no doubt that I have lessons to learn that I am in the process of learning.  But at the same time, perhaps there are some lessons I have already learned… some lessons that I am in the process of helping others understand.
  • I don’t know for sure if it is appropriate for me to feel that I am capable of taking responsibility for those ills in the world I write about.  I suppose if I become depressed and overwhelmed by these circumstances, that I have then reached the limit of my abilities and the level of my incompetence. In any event, I can see that I live on the edge.  I fall.  I quit.  I get up and try again.  I fail and stumble.  I hurt but then I get up and try again.  I know what it feels like to be tired.
  • I am seeking happiness by following my truth and at the same time I fall sometimes into states of unhappiness trying.  If I continue on my current path, maybe I will be overwhelmed by a task I can’t handle without much more help.  And yet if I give up, maybe I would feel even worse, thinking that I have sold out my grandchildren and my ideals.
  • I am resigned to find my happiness in this unpleasant work that is not much fun to do.  I think that is as close to happiness as I will ever get.  Maybe someday I will finally quit for good and find some temporary peace.  Or maybe things will turn around and my joy will increase.
  • Your friendship is important to me, so I will do my best never to judge you harshly for living your truth in a way that is different from mine.  Perhaps your job in life is different than mine, even though our best efforts might on the surface look like we are pulling in opposite directions.  Maybe our efforts are equally appropriate and necessary to achieving the happiness we both want for our children, our grandchildren and the rest of humanity.
  • God works in mysterious ways.  I strongly suspect that he loves us equally well as we each struggle or don’t struggle to find our place in the world.

I Love You,

Mark