Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Desire Makes Us Unhappy

...or maybe not. Still deciding where I want to host my blog. In the mean time, here's an old rant of mine that's still fresh.

Maybe it’s the philosophy class that’s growing on me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had to read Brave New World in another class. And maybe it’s my own frustrations of living with A.D.D. that are starting to pile on high enough for me to notice that led me to post this today. But I don’t think I can live a life driven by desire anymore. Somewhere, somehow I picked up the idea that happiness is the fulfillment of my desires; that being happy means endlessly trying to get what I want because if I don’t it’ll just eat at me. Let’s take it down to a more practical level: You’ve got a song stuck in your head. It’s been there for the past two days. You have no idea who sings it but it’s addictive and it’s been driving you nuts that you only know a few words of it. You search for the few words you know and you get nothing. You got to Yahoo Answers and ask them, and it seems that with each barrier you come across you want the song more and more. Finally you find it on youtube and with the right program you extract the mp3 from it. The itching is over!…until next week when it’ll happen again.

I think this is a cultural idea. This is a cultural belief that we’ve been taught to believe in. Happiness is getting what you want. Let’s break this idea down.

Happiness is getting what you want, and not only that, but it’s a global rule for all of society too. For all of us to be happy, we must satisfy our own individual itches. You’ll attend to whatever floats your boat and I’ll attend to whatever floats my boat. You can’t criticize other people’s wants. Their wants, just as twisted as they may be, are in pursuit of happiness just like yours are. To criticize someone else’s wants is to be a hypocrite. There’s some restrictions on the things that society doesn’t want you to want, like drugs, child pornography, and harming another person, but there’s absolutely no society-wide endorsement of a want. Society didn’t teach all children that they should hunger to learn, or desire to be the best person they can be. Not even religion gets a stamp of approval from everyone. What has filled the void instead, what we all can agree on, is wanting. That way, you can do what you do and I’ll do what I’ll do. There’s only individual wants. Satisfying them is your business and you can’t tell me what to want because relativism is the only thing we’ll agree on.

I am so pleased to say that this philosophy has problems.
1) If happiness is the satisfaction of desires, then by definition it will not last. You’ll be happy when you buy a new toy. But then you will grow bored of the toy and the unhappiness will return, and buying another toy will not defeat the unhappiness.
2) Honestly, if we’re so chained to our desires are we even capable of holding ourselves back? Or are we just infants grown old? To demonstrate this point, go down to the store and buy yourself a hard candy. Leave it within arm’s reach. See how long you can hold it there.
3) And if we are so chained to our desires that we can’t hold ourselves back then there’s no way that another 6 billion people can live the same way without entirely strip mining the planet! We’re only a puny 300 million in the US yet use up a quarter of the world’s resources to fuel our desires. We’re gonna need a helluva lot of Earths if we think the rest of the world can live like we do.
4) And finally, what type of backwards-ass world are we living in where if you want to help people, society’s response is “Whatever works for you”?! What type of world are we living in when compassion has become something private? Isn’t helping people good? Don’t you think it should happen more? Then why are we keeping it stached away?

That’s my 2 cents on desire.