Are YOU Pursuing Happiness?
We have all read and memorized this phrase from the Declaration of Our Independence. As a matter of fact, this is probably the only part of it we really know.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
But what does it say, really?
Truths being self-evident means it’s obvious, you can look around and see this truth everywhere.
We are all created equal. We always focus on the fact that the patriots who started this great nation were looking out for the little guy. This is true, their lives were a constant fight for freedom from a world where the little guy was crushed. Success was only given or allowed based on a government giving it away. The founders felt it wasn’t theirs to give, it was ours to have.
However, there is more to this statement…. something I wonder if the men drafting this declaration would have ever imagined possible. We are equally responsible for these rights. They were surrounded by people that lived in the harshest of environments. They built their homes with their own hands, they grew and hunted their food, they fought against wild animals and disease and then they fought oppression in a bloody hand to hand war. I don’t believe they could have fathomed the idea that one day people in this country could be lazy.
But they did understand what it took, they weren’t looking for hand-outs, they used the phrase “the pursuit of happiness”. Why a pursuit?
When I look up the definition of pursuit I find – TO DO SOMETHING.
go after, seek, attend, badger, bug, harass, hound, persevere, persist, stalk, give chase, hunt down, run after, search for, track down
These are all actions. I see this concept everywhere. Have you ever seen a wild animal that is lazy? If they are not acting to survive they are dying. The only exception in the animal world is farm animals and pets. They are dependent on someone doing this for them. If you don’t feed your pet it will die because you have eliminated its pursuit of life, it is dependent on you to take care of it. When we run out of cat food my 12-year-old cat doesn’t hunt, she whines until we get more food for her.
So, what’s the opposite of pursue? This I found interesting. These are the words listed as antonyms:
Aid, assist, be lazy, give up, help, ignore, leave alone, neglect, quit, run away, support, retreat
I think we are all equally created to DO our part, to act, to contribute. We are not all created to equally achieve or receive the same, this is not what they were saying in those words. They were saying we all equally deserve the OPPORTUNITY to make our own way. We are responsible for our success and happiness. It is a never-ending journey, we can’t really find it or have it, we can only pursue it. When we stop, we move backwards. We are on a treadmill, we can walk or run and yet we never really arrive anywhere. However, if we suddenly stop we will be thrown backwards, head over heels.
I have dedicated the recent years of my life trying to help Veterans move forward and have pursued this with greater passion and energy that I have ever spent on anything in my life. This passion has resulted in more personal happiness because my pursuit was strong. However, I have also learned I have been trying to tame wild lions and turn them into pets. By helping them, I have been trying to remove their majesty. The lion is mighty and strong in the wild but fat and lazy in the zoo.
The founders knew that the key was the pursuit. You must be afraid of failure, of being left behind, of not surviving to stay motivated on moving forward. I’m not saying being afraid of failing, that is an excuse, failing is growth. I am saying failure, the end, it’s over, you didn’t make it. It’s interesting to see how abandoned pets can sometimes go back to the pursuit. If that house cat can get outside it will eventually become hungry enough to learn to hunt again. It will have to learn quickly to do something new and master it or it won’t survive. This instinct may have been unused because it became lazy and dependent on the owner, but it never left.
Why are humans capable of feeling this same instinct yet they can ignore it? It has been amazing to me to see the number of people that will go to great lengths to get free stuff yet spend so little effort on learning to hunt again. We are the only species that can find excuses, be depressed and literally die waiting for someone else to do it for us. This is pride, I believe. It is always accompanied by an excuse. I can’t get a job because I am too old, I am struggling with fitting in, I don’t have this or that. What they are saying really is… I don’t want to do that.
Ever noticed animals never commit suicide? It’s because animals lack the ability to waste time worrying about the past, they are constantly moving forward. For example, my house cat loves her dry food, but she would also eat rats and if need be, stinky, rotting road-kill to survive. Her instinct isn’t plagued by pride, it never says I shouldn’t have to eat this. Her memory never says my life is worse now, it simply says I’m hungry, I need food to survive. She’d likely purr in happiness while eating it.
We need to return to the fight to survive. As a rich nation that was founded on Christian beliefs we want to help others, and this is good. But that help should be to teach and remind each other of what our instinct is.
This has been the hardest struggle for me with Veterans. I see their potential and I am willing to help get them started. I would give it all away to help them. I set out to build a program that was focused on getting them started, I even structured my revenue to come at the end. After they succeeded then I would get paid. I could have never imagined, and you could have never convinced me, that this was a bad idea simply because so many would never fight to finish. I honestly didn’t realize how far we have strayed from the core values this country was built on.
I began on a dairy farm, I have been pursuing happiness since I was six years old. My parents worked hard and all I could dream of was accomplishing things. The idea of receiving things never had time to be planted in my character because they had no things to give. I have worried for years if I have done the opposite to my own children, has my success hurt them? But I am happy to see them working as hard as I do and pursuing their own happiness.
We have all heard the old saying: give a man a fish and he will depend on you to feed him, teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry. But I add, if the man refuses to fish, throw him overboard and let the fish eat him. We need to leave some behind, it’s the only way to motivate others to not want to be left behind. As humans we have an incredible ability to adapt, we can look at prison, homelessness, welfare and say that’s not that bad. We need to be afraid of failure and the only way to do this is we must let some fail, it’s their choice, their right to not pursue happiness.
Who knows why we all write and post on social media these days? I can’t tell you what my agenda is in writing this because I don’t know, but I still want to help and sometimes the only way is to be a different sound in the midst of all the noise. A reminder of an old truth.