Happiness is the inner smile that glows within you at all times, irrespective of a big house, big cars, money, power and all the latest state of the art technological gadgets around you.
I am not saying that these material things are useless and have no value; far from it!
However, these latest technologies and inanimate material goodies are not the real sources of happiness. They are mere extrinsic goods or bridge towards fulfillment and joy. The primordial root of happiness lies in the intrinsic value of the things behind the instruments that they represent. Allow me to elaborate and adumbrate on my point.
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Take for example a car! Yes, an individual would be happy to have one, especially the bigger one; however I heavily doubted if we could truly say that that individual is truly happy if he/she has no family or friends or love-ones to share the ride and the comfort that the said car brings?!
It is my contention that, may be that guy is proud; â€˜happyâ€™ in the thought that he has a car, yet the person who has no car or any other means of transportation yet happily walking in cloud nine, hand in hand with a love-one in the garden, in my view has more happiness than the said person who drove the Mercedes or Lamborghini — alone!
A huge house may bring happiness to an individual, yet what is the purpose of that structure if there is no family living in it? Â What is the purpose of a big house, if it is empty? What is the value of a large structure that has no loving human beings dwelling on it?
In my view, a humble home is more preferable than a mansion which has no love, affection and solidarity!
The Question of Selfhood and Social Solidarity
Hail to those selfless volunteers from humble backgrounds whose roughing it out in a remote African village or any other distant area in the world to raise the mother tongue literacy level of refugees without any power generators or electricity.
Indeed, â€œin an era when everyone wants to quickly finish their education to become successful corporate figures or businessmenâ€ there are some brave and indomitable souls animated by love and compelled by genuine compassion towards their fellow-men and decided to struggle and rough it out in â€œthe wilds of Africa to make another personâ€™s life betterâ€ and in doing so, incontestably to contribute in a no small part in making this world a better place to live in!
Bravo to those altruistic individuals who left our own shores and went to an impoverished and lonely place, sacrificing their own future and not thinking about their own personal safety and general welfare, to give free tuition to the unlettered, the uneducated, the ignorant, those who have no voice of their own!
Their noble acts of feeding the hungry and the homeless, helping the marginalized, that they may start to rebuild their lives, constructing and building bridges with neighbors irrespective of race, religion or creed are truly the indisputable elements that shown their good character!
These are the necessary virtues that we all need to create, not merely a society that is truly caring and sharing but undeniably a world of love, universal understanding and cosmopolitan compassion and a true human solidarity for all humanity!
The Greek philosopher, Aristotle claimed in his magnum opus, The Nicomachean Ethics that the ultimate aim of the Good Life is Happiness. Happiness is a way of life. It is â€œan activity of the soul in accordance with virtueâ€.
No man is an island!
Man but nature is a socio-political animal we grow together not in isolation nor apart from society but through social interaction and in a given human organization. The Greeks called it as the polis.
We grow and develop together as distinctive individuals and collective human beings through the process of socialization and social intercourse with our fellow human beings.
Hence, to the Greeks, an individual who is selfish, apathetic and has no concern neither a concept of community service and social solidarity is not a human being but either an animal or a barbarian of the lowest kind!
To be happy in their sense is to develop one self and extend that individual development for the benefit of our fellow human beings. Hence, to them, while I am developing all my faculties; it is also simultaneously both my epistemic duty and ethico-moral obligation to transmit and to teach, to give and to share that development or transformation to my fellows, to the community, to society as a whole and to the world in general.
That is the Greek philosophy of Selfhood that needs to extend to Social Solidarity!
It is only in this sense that we can be truly happy, fulfilled, contented and indeed, complete!
I certainly believe and so hold, that by virtue of the Greek thoughts on the matter, under discussion; there is no iota of doubt whatsoever that that those people who devotes and dedicate themselves for the interest of humanity and for the benefit of mankind are the one who are truly and really happy in the real sense of the word!
It is only by giving ourselves to our fellows that we find who we are and in knowing who we are is the ultimate key for us to be perfectly happy!
The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in the Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. He is currently a lecturer at the College of Arts, Department of Philosophy at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
As of the moment, he is preparing to publish his first book entitled “Dissidente”. It is a collection of his articles, commentaries and op-ed published by various newspapers in Southeast Asia.