Life in America is not a battle though it may seem so currently.. Life in America is a parade. There are people who march in the parade and pursue the happiness that comes with being part of the fun. Then, there are those who stand and happily watch, perhaps wishing they were participating, but finding joy in the event. Soon, they may take action and join the march because at least they can see it and aspire to it. The rest are those who choose not to show up at all. Parades march forward and never turn back. Life, and especially expanding life through the pursuit of happiness, moves forward and does not turn back. Those who do not love, join, and embrace the parade do not move forward; they stay still. Those who do not show up, move backward and continue to do so until they finally decide to think and act in a new way.
America is happy because each individual’s pursuit of happiness is protected; it was declared by the Creators on that fateful day in 1776. The challenge now is how the pursuit of happiness may be transformed from individual choice and action, to the action and choice of the many more. This is an especially complex task in current American life because moving lives forward means overcoming the constant images of the unhappy.
At any moment in America, there are those who choose to respect its gifts and those who choose not to. Those with respect are far more likely to grasp its values and choose actions that pursue happiness. Those who hate America will not so act. If Adam Smith is correct, more people individually acting in a new way is all that America needs to be an even happier country. Bertrand Russel said, “If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.” The key is to teach individuals to look at themselves and quit paying so much unnecessary attention to what others are doing. Start with the proportion that taking a look inside oneself takes the most courage of any act. Ayn Rand touched on this subject when she instructed people to “Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.” In other words, before you can value others and their rights, you must first value yourself.
Fighting against things before one thinks and acts for oneself is the fundamental reason that too many people remain unhappy failures in a country that has done the most to make one successful. In fact, the most counterproductive act one may take is to rage, resist or fight against anything else. People need to act to make their thoughts and dreams turn into the things they want. More and more people simply need to take the first and easiest step to join the parade. They simply need to look into their own minds and ask whether they have ever thought about, and then acted upon, the pursuits of their own happiness. While doing so, all of their past “reasons” or excuses, or supposed rational thought must be cast aside in favor of emotional thought. Just as if it were asked of you when you were five years old, enthusiastically answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grown up [aka start living]?” Maybe we did learn everything we needed to know when we were in kindergarten as the book by Robert Fulghum suggested. Or maybe at five, our minds were not yet polluted with the unhappy teachings of others or the ability to “reason” sufficiently enough to quash all the means of pursuing of our happiness!
Those who do not show up for the parade stay away by choice. If “reason” were the bedrock of virtue or illuminated the “meaning” in life, then it should be easy to convince the haters that they should not hate. A simple, rational argument should be enough to demonstrate that in America everyone has the ability to pursue his or her own ideas created through their own imagination brought to life. But, mere rational argument does not work because rational argument does not permeate the creative plane, instill faith in anyone or stimulate action. Just like rattling off statistics, anyone can logically reason themselves into any belief they choose. That’s why lies repeated over and over become truth for many and that’s why excuses become “rationalizations” why one cannot accomplish an alleged goal. It is also why Scott Adams’ concept of “two different movies” is also a constant. One group sees an event one way and the other group sees a whole different moving picture of the same event. One will not convince the other when groupthink, collectivism and some agenda are at stake.
The only agenda should be putting the entire onus of thought and action on every single person. This the Creators did and they were brilliant in doing so. They said that everyone has “. . .the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Teach this thought and stop teaching that everyone has the obligation to pursue helping others. Such is the only “collective” endeavor that will ever succeed; and, ironically it is the ultimate act of diversity. Every single is person is different, with different thoughts and desires so there is zero discrimination and zero need for fairness or any advantage. When each and every person chooses to first pursue his or her own happiness WITHOUT INFRINGING ON ANY OTHER PERSON DOING THE SAME, then paradise shall have been created. In the meantime, we have America, and America is the closest place to paradise ever created. It is the end point of the parade which no one ever sees unless one joins in the march!
Excerpt (edited) from my book “America, The Happy”