Long ago I knew a man who wanted things, and so he would arrange to take them. Secretly. Sometimes other people would get blamed and he would not care. His pursuit of happiness was severely flawed as it not only did not take into effect the feelings of the owners of those stolen things, but the restricted freedom or life changing events that affected those that took the blame. He didn’t care. The Declaration of Independence provided him an inalienable right to pursue happiness and damn everyone else. Him first. Only him.
He’s not alone. There are many other flawed people who have “me first, the hell with all of you” attitudes.
And so, here we are, a nation that has been driven to division based on religious expression, women’s rights, the rights of people of color and sexual identity and expression and so much more.
The fundamentalist mindset is that anything else but their expressed beliefs are evil and must be stopped. Al Qaeda and ISIS are doing that by murdering thousands. So far, it has not come to that here in the United States with our own citizens. But the time seems to be coming and not from Middle Eastern terrorists. This will be home grown.
Are we in for a civil war because some people believe THEIR pursuit of happiness depends on others being subordinate? Am I to be murdered because I have posted about my food preservation business and they want my stored food? Am I to be murdered because I have been outspoken about equal access to rights for all? Am I to be murdered because I am a Jew?
There are a lot of challenged people in our communities. People who want what they want and have no ability to work out a plan to achieve it. They may be the poor, the people who are on public assistance and eat at soup kitchens. They may be the homeless with problems that are rooted in drug abuse or mental instability. But most likely the ones who have the largest problems are people who are living a life of struggle and they don’t know why.
These people are inhibited by their inability to self educate, their inability to develop a plan of action, their inability to consider the effects and consequences of their actions. These challenged people are our neighbors, our friends on Facebook, our childhood friends. These struggling people are angry and listen to the voices of Trump and other conservative talking heads that fuel that anger.
The pursuit of happiness is an “unalienable” right. That means it is the desire to be happy that is natural. The Decalration of Independence does not say “happiness”. It says “the pursuit of happiness.” We are born with minds and talents that we may use to pursue happiness. Many of us have had our minds and talents squashed and skewed in ways that make it hard to recognize that a path to happiness is one we must make on our own and together. Not through divisiveness but with cohesion and community. And it is not instant gratification but the actual working towards that goal that brings the greatest happiness.