Happiness is a moral obligation
Readers who think I am preoccupied with political issues may find it interesting to learn that I lecture on the subject of happiness more than any other single topic. And, every Friday for the past 12 years, I have devoted an hour of my radio show to this subject.
I do so because I have concluded that the happy make the world better, and the unhappy make the world worse. Therefore, happiness is a moral obligation.
For the first half of my life, like most people, I regarded happiness as essentially a feeling – “I feel happy,” “I feel unhappy.” I regarded the pursuit of happiness as a selfish endeavor.
I was very wrong. Happiness — or to be more precise, a happy disposition — is actually a moral virtue. Whenever I meet an individual with a cheerful disposition, I admire that person. I have come to regard people who maintain cheerful dispositions in the same way I regard those are kind, honest, etc.
If you want to understand why happiness is a moral virtue that we are obliged to pursue, ask anyone raised by an unhappy parent — or who is married to an unhappy spouse, or who has an unhappy child — what that is like.
The unhappy — or those who act unhappy, such as the moody, the chronic complainers, the drama kings and queens — frequently ruin the lives of those around them. They cast a pall over their son or daughter’s childhood, they ruin their marriages, and they can make their parents despondent.
And that’s only the damage they do in the micro realm. In the macro realm, the unhappy often do even more damage. Those who became Nazis or communists were not happy people. Happy Muslims don’t become suicide bombers — the very fact that they want to murder and die in order to be rewarded in the afterlife is a testament to how little joy they experience in this life.
Given, then, how much damage they do, why do the moody and miserable act this way?
One reason is that they believe that they have suffered more than those who act happy.
But this is false. Most of those who walk around with a cheerful disposition have suffered at least as much as have the moody and miserable. There is rarely a correlation between suffering and disposition.
Another is that often they have been rewarded for their chronic complaining and bad moods. This typically begins in childhood, during which the moody child gets more attention than the easygoing child. And it continues into adulthood – the moody are often placated, and others frequently try to “make” the unhappy happy. So why change, when your miserable moods have only been rewarded?
People should regard bad moods in the same way they regard bad breath or bad body odor: Inflicting bad moods on others is just as obnoxious as inflicting bad breath or body odor on others. Just as we try to brush away bad breath and wash away body odor, we should try to brush and wash away bad moods.
A third reason is that we live in the Age of Feelings. Feelings have replaced standards (for example, “How do you feel about it?” has replaced “Is it right or wrong?”), and feelings have been elevated above behavior. The idea that one should not act in accord with one’s feelings, or, heaven forbid, not express one’s feelings is regarded as sinful.
Young people in particular recoil at the thought of acting contrary to how they feel. It is “inauthentic,” they say. But, of course, nice-smelling breath and bodies are also inauthentic. What is authentic about mouthwash or deodorant?
The fact is that we owe it to everyone with whom we come into contact to act in as upbeat a manner as possible. I suspect that more marriages survive a spouse’s infidelity than survive a spouse’s chronic bad moods. Indeed, regularly inflicting bad moods on a spouse should be regarded as a form of spousal abuse.
This rule applies everywhere. As one who flies hundreds of times a year, I can testify to how much more pleasant a flight is when the flight attendant is a cheerful person rather than a dour one. And in the workplace, it is simply vital. The constant good humor of my engineer, Sean McConnell, has had a measurable impact on the quality of my show.
And acting happy not only affects everyone in our lives; it affects us just as much. Our own behavior changes us. As the 12-step programs — perhaps the wisest programs in our society — put it: “Fake it till you make it.” Act happy, and you’ll be happier.
None of this suggests that we should hide our unhappy feelings from our closest friends, one of whom, hopefully, is our spouse. But it does mean that whatever we are feeling, we still need to try to be, or at least to act, happy. That is certainly the message of Judaism, from which I learned this insight. Even during the week following the death of an immediate family member, we are forbidden to mourn when Shabbat comes.
Behavior over feelings is one of Judaism’s greatest teachings.
The above article was sent by Mark Waldeland.
Harvard’s ‘woman of color’
by the Boston Herald Editorial Staff:
The curious case of the Native American roots — or lack thereof — of Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren just keeps getting curiouser.
Now the New England Historical Genealogical Society, which originally announced they found evidence of Warren’s Cherokee heritage, has revised its finding.
Tom Champoux, spokesman for the society, said “We have no proof that Elizabeth Warren’s great great great grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith either is or is not of Cherokee descent.”
Their announcement came in the wake of an official report from an Oklahoma county clerk that said a document purporting to prove Warren’s Cherokee roots — her great great great grandmother’s marriage license application — does not exist.
All of which would be a kind of “who cares” except that the news came on the same day that Politico.com reported a 1997 Fordham Law Review piece described the blue-eyed, blond-haired Warren as Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color.”
A footnote attributed the information to a telephone interview with then Harvard Law news director Michael Chmura, who was also apparently the source for a 1996 Harvard Crimson piece describing Warren as Native American.
In the Fordham piece on the subject of affirmative action its author Laura Padilla wrote, “In my three years at Stanford Law School, there were no professors who were women of color. Harvard Law School hired its first woman of color, Elizabeth Warren, in 1995.”
So maybe blond is a color. Or maybe Warren and Harvard Law were co-conspirators in an act of deception that served both of their purposes at the time — but has come back to haunt a now politically ambitious woman who was by all accounts a good teacher whatever hue she may be.
Krauthammer: Obama Will Run On Promising Again What He Promised In 2008
“I think his campaign now, Obama’s is, ‘I promise you again that I will do something that I promised you in ’08.’ I think it would be good to remind Americans that all the promises he made, the major ones, the big ones, the ones that won him a significant victory are ones that he didn’t come close to keeping and why would you trust him again? I think it’s effective and I think using Obama’s own words is the most effective way to go after him,” Krauthammer said on FOX News’ “Special Report.”
Cluck below for realclearpolitics video:
Lefty Elizabeth Warren is Proud of the Native Blood she Never Was……More on the Cherokee Warren Fraud
Warren: “I’m Proud of my Native American Heritage.”
Charles Blow, a New York Times black who puts words together to advance the Times political agenda, offers the following concerns for Mitt Romney, the Times Darth Vader of the day:
Believing in ObamaBy CHARLES M. BLOW
You gotta have faith.
Democrats have it. Republicans don’t. That is the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll that was released on Tuesday.
The poll found that:
Fifty-six percent of Americans think Barack Obama will win the 2012 presidential election, compared with 36 percent who think Mitt Romney will win. Democrats are more likely to believe that Obama will win than Republicans are to believe Romney will. Independents are nearly twice as likely to think that Obama, rather than Romney, will prevail.
This comes at a time when voter preference between the two candidates is roughly even. It highlights the ever-present Republican anxiety and unease with the candidate they have. How skewed is this difference in confidence? The poll found that Republicans are twice as likely to believe that Obama will win than Democrats are likely to believe that Romney will win.
This no doubt has something to do with the power of the incumbency and Obama’s still rather high likability numbers. But it’s probably also because Republicans still don’t love Romney. A different USA Today/Gallup poll, released on Monday, found that more than a third of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents still say that they are not satisfied with Romney as the nominee and would have preferred another candidate.
By contrast, 80 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said that they were happy with Obama.
This is utterly unsurprising. Romney is the most awkward, clumsy Republican nominee since Bob Dole in 1996. For the record, Gallup points out that “in an August 1996 poll, Americans overwhelmingly believed incumbent Bill Clinton (69 percent) would defeat Bob Dole (24 percent).” What’s past is prologue.
Furthermore, a Washington Times/JZ Analytics poll released Sunday found a sizeable enthusiasm gap favoring the president. As the Washington Times reported:
Of those backing Mr. Obama, 64 percent said it is because they feel he deserves to be re-elected, while only 11 percent said they are trying to deny Mr. Romney the spot, another 11 percent said they are supporting the nominated Democrat, and 9 percent said the president is the ”lesser of two evils.”
For Romney, the news was not so good:
Less than half of his backers said they are supporting him because they think he is the best candidate. Nearly 20 percent said they are voting to deny Mr. Obama another term, and an additional 19 percent said Mr. Romney is the “lesser of two evils.” A final 10 percent said they are backing whomever the G.O.P. offered up.
Why does all this matter? Because, as Gallup points out, “Americans’ predictions of the four prior presidential elections were also generally accurate.” Rather surprisingly, “Americans are a bit more likely now to say Obama has a better chance of winning than they were at a similar point in 2008.”
Now this certainly does not guarantee an Obama victory. Polls check present sentiments. They can’t predict the future. The farther you are away from Election Day, the more time voters have to change their minds.
Also, believing that your candidate has the race in the bag can have a dulling effect on the importance of showing up to vote.
But these numbers do point to a real problem for Romney. Many of Obama’s supporters are devout believers. Romney can’t claim the same. And that imbalance tends to have a real effect on Election Day.
When Marxism becomes Physical as with Chairman Mao, loved by Obama’s Anita Dunn, MILLIONS ARE MURDERED
After all, Killings by government simply become just another bureaucratic policy.
Scholars Continue to Reveal Mao’s Monstrosities :
Asia: Exiled Chinese historians emerge with evidence of
cannibalism and up to 80 million deaths under the
Communist leader’s regime.
Gong Xiaoxia recalls the blank expression on the man’s face as he was beaten to death by a Chinese mob.
He died without a name, becoming another statistic among millions.
“I remember him so vividly, he really had no expression on his face,” Gong said. “After about 10 or 20 minutes, God knows how long, someone took out a knife and hit him right into the heart
He was then strung on a pole and left dangling and rotting for two months.
“I think the most terrible thing, when I recall that period, the most terrible thing that struck me was our indifference,” said Gong, today a 38-year-old graduate student at Harvard researching her own history.
That terrible period was China’s 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution. The blinding indifference was in the name of Chairman Mao Tse-tung and the Communist Party.
Gong is among a new wave of scholars and intellectuals, both Western and Chinese, who believe modern Chinese history needs rewriting.
While the focus of many books and articles today is on China’s successful economic reforms, dramatic new figures for the number of people who died as a result of Mao Tse-tung’s policies are surfacing, along with horrifying proof of cannibalism during the Cultural Revolution.
It is now believed that as many as 60 million to 80 million people may have died because of Mao’s policies–making him responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin combined.
Gong said killer is not a strong enough word to describe Mao. “He was a monster,” she said.
Hitler’s policies led to tens of millions of deaths during World War II and in concentration camps, and Stalin is blamed for tens of millions more.
Chinese government figures say between 15 million and 25 million people died unnatural deaths during Mao’s reign from 1949 until his death in 1976.
But both Chinese and Western scholars know those figures are no longer valid. One document, published in the Shanghai University journal Society last year–and immediately yanked from shelves–said 40 million people died during the great famine of 1959-1961.
Some China experts say it is time to move on and put the past to rest.
But so much new information is coming out about China’s recent past that this handful of scholars, some of whom recently fled China, feel it must be recorded so that future generations will learn from it. Like the relentless scholars of the Holocaust, they hope to prevent history from repeating itself.
“I think that the upheavals in the middle of the century, the famine and the Cultural Revolution, are still very much locked into the soul of China,” said Perry Link, a professor at Princeton. “Modern China’s not going to find its way into the 21st Century unless the Chinese people can feel that they really got to the bottom of how such things happened.”
Andrew Walder, a Harvard sociologist working with Gong to examine hundreds of recently obtained Chinese documents on atrocities during the Cultural Revolution, acknowledged that some colleagues feel Mao’s failures are old news.
“Most China scholars are not really interested in delving back into those issues,” Walder said. “I think, with regard to violence with the Cultural Revolution, that’s what we’ve done, we’ve had a sense of complacency.”
The Tian An Men Square pro-democracy movement of 1989 played a role in making much of this new information available to the West. The crackdown forced some Communist Party members and leading intellectuals to flee the country–taking with them secret documents and new resolve to uncover the truth about how many died during Mao’s rule, and to tell just how they died.
One of the best-known is Chen Yizi, a Communist Party member who was an architect of the economic reforms of the 1980s and founder of several government think tanks.
During the pro-democracy movement in the spring of 1989, Chen urged the government to negotiate with the demonstrators. After the tanks rolled and untold numbers of people died–estimates range from about 500 to several thousands–Chen became one of the seven most-wanted–dead or alive–dissidents in China.
Chen, now 54, fled to the United States and founded the Center for Modern China, based in Princeton, N.J.
Using smuggled government documents, Chinese population statistics and interviews with police and villagers in four Chinese provinces, Chen calculated that as many as 43 million people died during the famine that followed Mao’s absurd industrial campaign, the Great Leap Forward of 1958-60.
“The truth will be much higher than this figure–believe it,” Chen said during a recent interview at his Princeton apartment. “The biggest problem for the Communist Party is they never learned how to treat human beings like human beings.”
Chen believes that, from the Communist takeover in 1949 through the landlord and intellectual purges of the 1950s, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the prison system, at least 80 million met unnatural deaths.
“Of course, there’s no doubt about it,” Chen said. “Americans just can’t understand that such a thing could happen. Only when I went to the countryside did I myself realize the truth.”
One of the provinces Chen visited was Anhui, about 500 miles south of Beijing. One official document shows that, in one county alone, 60,245 people died, or about 7.7% of the population.
How Mao could be so callous about the millions who pledged their faith in him is still a mystery.
“The story of Mao still just isn’t known,” said Link, a professor of East Asian studies at Princeton. “I think he will rank with Stalin and Hitler when the dust settles.”
New documents are being made available, and a book has been written by Li Zhisui, Mao’s personal physician for 22 years.
“The Private Life of Chairman Mao,” released last month, paints Mao as an unfeeling man who refused to be treated for sexually transmitted disease despite infecting the many young women who shared his bed.
The memoir describes an imperial court of decadence and ruthless intrigue.
Mao, a classical poet, knew little about economics. But he insisted on trying to lead the country out of the Middle Ages overnight. The masses joined the race to increase steel output with back-yard furnaces, believing the Great Helmsman would lead them out of their long history of poverty and feudalism.
But in doing so, farmers left their fields. And having no skills at steel-making, the metal was poor quality, and most of it was useless.
After the first bad harvest, Mao’s aides began to warn him of famine.
After two more poor harvests, the nation was plunged into starvation, forced to ration, steal and scavenge for roots and rodents.
Mao never admitted that the Great Leap was a failure, although he did step aside while top party pragmatists–including Deng Xiaoping–rescued the country by focusing on agriculture.
Harry Wu remembers the Great Famine. During its worst year, 1960, after he graduated from college, he was arrested for speaking out at a Communist Party Youth League meeting. He spent 19 years in China’s labor-reform camps.
Wu is a resident scholar at Stanford University who published an account of his ordeal in the book “Bitter Winds” last year. He recalls eating rats and snakes during the famine to supplement his prison rations, and burying countless fellow inmates who starved to death.
Zheng Yi was one of China’s leading contemporary writers before he fled Beijing after helping to organize intellectuals during the Tian An Men uprising. He arrived at Princeton, a center for many Chinese dissidents, in 1992 and finished a book about political cannibalism during the Cultural Revolution.
“Red Memorial,” to be published in English next year, offers some of the most gruesome accounts ever of the Cultural Revolution, which was unleashed by Mao in a last-ditch campaign to rejuvenate himself after the famine.
The 47-year-old writer who grew up in Beijing was sent to the countryside for the decade of the Cultural Revolution to work on farms and in mining.
He heard tales of cannibalism, but he couldn’t imagine they were true. So he and his wife, anthropologist Bei Ming, set off for Guangxi province to interview villagers and officials in six counties.
“I realized it was the most important thing I could do,” said Zheng, who wears the black-rimmed glasses of a Chinese intellectual. “I read a lot of books about Nazi Germany, and I admired the writers who had told the truth–so I felt the need to do the same thing.”
He secretly photographed police files and some of the accused killers.
Zheng’s voice softened when he spoke of one 86-year-old man, Yi Wansheng of Sixiao village in Zhongshan county, who spoke freely and with pride about murdering and dividing up the organs of one young man.
Deng Jifang had fled his village as a young boy after his brother and father, who belonged to the hated landlord class, were killed by the government in the 1950s.
But in 1968, villagers trying to comply with a Red Guard frenzy for rounding up “class enemies” hunted down Deng, then 20, in a neighboring village. They carried him in a bamboo cage back to Sixiao, where the villagers beat him and poked him with hot iron rods until he passed out.
The villagers then carried him to the river, and while he was still alive, Yi slit his chest and pulled out Deng’s heart and liver.
“Because he was a class enemy, it wasn’t enough to kill him,” Zheng said. “You had to eat him. It was a symbol of loyalty to the party.”
Because of not having full access to government documents, Zheng was never able to give an accurate number of how many people were cannibalized.
He did, however, get full access to the archives of Wuxuan county, where 64 people were eaten in 1968. There, 56 hearts and livers and 13 sets of genitals were eaten. Seven people were disemboweled while still alive.
Cannibalism was practiced in ancient times because some believed human blood held medicinal powers. During the Great Famine, it occurred in matters of life or death. But this type of political cannibalism was unprecedented.
As the death toll continues to rise and tales of terrors unfold, former prisoner Wu reflects an opinion held by many when they consider Mao: “I don’t even care about 80 million, 60 million killed. The simple one fact is he’s a monster, he’s evil, he’s a ghost, he’s nothing but a criminal. The Chinese can never forgive him.”
Comment: Anita Dunn, Obama’s White House Manager, pronounced Mao Tse Dung as her favorite philosopher of all time (along with Mother Theresa…….of course it is only one woman’s perpective, but that of a woman high in the esteem of America’s first Marxist president, Barack Hussein Obama.