Thursday, March 15, 2007

American Values

An excellent post by Amanda over on Pandagon this morning -- and fo those of you who get itchy about such things, I don't believe she does any cussing this time, either. (What's up with that?) It's partly about gun control, but mainly about how the current American value system has moved away from the idea that we're allowed to do things simply because they give us pleasure -- as though pleasure were a bad thing. Amanda points out that it is, in fact, one of our guiding principals, as Americans, one of our core values, or at least it was meant to be. (Remember Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?) I know that when I'm advising students, and they are fretting about career choices, and I ask them, what do you *want* to do with your life -- what do you think will make you happy, most of them, I'd say maybe 70% of them, give me this blank stare: as if *happiness* and *career* could have nothing to do with each other. How could a job possibly make anyone happy? Why would you ever look for a job that would make you happy?

Dear heart, I say to them gently, if you are not looking for a job that will make you happy, most of the time? Boy, are you fucking up.

Here's my favorite bit of Amanda's post:

"If we embraced pleasure as a positive value in a very real way, how much would the popular discourse benefit from it? I suspect quite a bit. There are some people who already make a point of arguing for pleasure and leisure time, but not enough. Conservatives know and fear the power of the pro-pleasure argument; as Dan Savage details in his book Skipping Towards Gomorrah, a number of them have fallen into the habit of implying that the American trinity is “life, liberty, and property” instead of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

(My links! My links! Why WON'T my links work from this computer? Help me, mouse!)

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