What’s Up Next?
Sunday, July 3, 2016 ~ Gross Happiness
Inquiry: How do you measure/promote happiness (whether intra/interpersonal)? And/or honor pain?
Toolbox: Gonzales: Preparation for Authentic Dialogue
I was first introduced to Harriet Lerner’s notion of the conversational/relational “dance” in my early twenties and, since that time, have often found her strategic (dialogic) considerations thought provoking:
So whether opting to prep, in advance, for authentic communication (or merely to bite one’s proverbial tongue, in the moment), how does one tactically maximize one’s (and another’s) prospects for ‘gross happiness’?
In choosing to apprentice to the study of Nonviolent Communication, I’ve often noted that there are several elements that seem just too idealistic (almost to the point of naivety) to be taken seriously. (One such notion is that of holding-everyone’s-needs-with-care and/or equally-valuing-all-the-needs-on-the-table — see near bottom of: NVC’s Key Assumptions & Intentions.)
Of course, one could point to contemporary ‘real world’ correlaries such as Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (or GNH), Joseph Stiglitz‘s Mismeasuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up or the United Nations issuance of a World Happiness Report.
“Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”
– His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan
However it’s tempting to dismiss such things as a contemporary utopian fad, out of step with harsher, crueler realities. In contemplating harsh realities, there is nothing more mind-blowing, at least for me, than to confront the immovable geophysics (not to mention the ever acceleratingly/harrowing & crunched time tables) of climate change — hence, as one book title aptly puts it, This Changes Everything. No longer does the notion of our (undeniable, planetary) interdependence seem the purview of bell bottoms and peace signs; it necessarily includes pin stripe suits calculating comparative advantage .
So, for the upcoming 4th of July holiday, I opted to crack open a dusty old tome and transcribe several quotes from the dawn of enlightenment towards a re-visioning of the ‘pursuit of happiness’…
Garry Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence:
Wills, “We shall consider, later, the theoretical basis for Hutcheson’s formulae. Here it is important to notice what emerges from them, almost as an afterthought, to become one of the most powerful concepts of the Enlightenment. The equations were set up to measure in quasi-Newtonian fashion the ‘moment’ (motive force) of B, Benevolence; and since Benevolence is defined as the desire to promote happiness in others, the moment of virtue gives us the amount of happiness spread around in society. The concept of distributable quantity of happiness is born of the numbering urge:”
Francis Hutcheson: “In comparing the moral qualities of actions, in order to regulate our election among various actions proposed, or to find which of them has the greatest moral excellency, we are led by our moral sense of virtue thus to judge: That in equal degrees of happiness expected to proceed from the action, the virtue is in proportion to the number of persons to whom the happiness shall extend (and here the dignity or moral importance of persons may compensate numbers); and in equal numbers, the virtue is as the quantity of the happiness or natural good; or that virtue is in a compound ratio of the quantity of the happiness or natural good; or that virtue is in a compound ratio of the quantity of good and number of enjoyers. And, in some manner, the moral evil or vice is as the degree of misery and number of sufferers. So that, that action is best — [here comes the momentous formula] — which accomplishes the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.”
Adam Ferguson: “Men are really cheated of their happiness in being made to believe that any occupation or pastime is better fitted to amuse themselves than that which at the same time produces some real good to their fellow creatures… If the public good be the principal object with individuals, it is likewise true that the happiness of individuals is the great end of civil society…If the individual owes every degree of consideration to the public, he receives, in paying that very consideration, the greatest happiness of which his nature is capable.”
Adam Smith: “The happiness of mankind, as well as of all other rational creatures, seems to have been the original purpose intended by the Author of Nature when he brought them into existence. No other end seems worthy of that supreme wisdom and benignity which we necessarily ascribe to him; and this opinion, which we are led to by abstract consideration of his infinite perfections, is still more confirmed by the examination of the works of Nature, which seem all intended to promote happiness and to guard against misery. But, by acting according to the dictates of our moral faculties, we necessarily pursue the most effectual means for promoting the happiness of mankind.”
Given that the Declaration of Independence, beyond (merely) the “pursuit of happiness” clause, also contained an itemized list of grievances…
An example of ‘Honoring Our Pain – For the World’:
After the killings in Dallas, David O. Brown, the city’s police chief, became the face of the nation’s shock.
At multiple news conferences, he sorted through a jumble of reports, some of them wrong, as he narrated the standoff between his officers and the gunman. But he also offered simple, emotional words: “We’re hurting,” he said on Friday morning, in a moment of shared public grief.
His appearances may also have evoked a more personal grief. Just weeks after Chief Brown became the leader of the Dallas Police Department in 2010, his own son fatally shot a police officer and another man before being killed in a confrontation with the police.
“My family has not only lost a son, but a fellow police officer and a private citizen lost their lives at the hands of our son,” he said in a statement at the time. “That hurts so deeply I cannot adequately express the sadness I feel inside my heart.”
Since taking over the Dallas department, one of the nation’s largest, Chief Brown, 55, has earned a national reputation as a progressive leader whose top priority is improving relations and reducing distrust between the police department and the city’s minority residents… (continues)