Happiness is against the law. Not literally, but the pursuit of happiness, i.e. liberty so often is. Google any particular law and one will likely find a prohibition against something. No spitting on the sidewalk, owning this kind of animal is prohibited, or the obvious laws like those that criminalize assault and robbery—for good reason. The balancing of protective governmental intervention in our lives versus the liberty to pursue happiness is the foundational question of an organized society. So, the question here is whether prohibition of action is actually a more stringent limitation on one’s liberty to pursue happiness than telling people how they must or should act (endorsing action)?
Telling people how they must or should behave is a far greater infringement. While the conclusion may seem counterintuitive, it its not. Codifying legally acceptable behavior by some manmade list would automatically limit us in ways we may not even conceive. On the contrary, there are infinite ways to pursue happiness. What may be THE path for one may not even be considered by another. The universe provides endless opportunity and what we conceive in our mind is our method of pursuit. In other words, for every “thought-of” prohibition there are endless positive actions that may be imagined, then acted upon, to pursue happiness. Attempting to list them automatically makes the opportunities negligible rather than abundant. Only the unhappy think that way.
There is a second fundamental reason prohibitions are less limiting to liberty. Man-created laws that prohibit behavior keep other men from encroaching on another’s pursuit of happiness. Simply put, one man’s prohibition is all other’s liberation. If the one man who would rob ten others is prevented from doing so, those ten others have retained their liberty to pursue happiness as they see fit. With liberty comes responsibility and the laws remind one of these complimentary forces. This idea is liberty’s notion that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Stopping robbery by one man provides an equal amount of liberty to the man not robbed.
Thankfully, the number of people in the “unhappy ranks” of society will always be fewer than the happy because most see fit to obey the higher law of pursuit of happiness. They are the ten and not the one.
That’s why happiness is against the law—It’s only the laws that limit. Man’s imagination and his pursuits of happiness that result are unlimited.