I came upon a couple of young cohorts’ of the zeitgeist mentality.
They were embroiled in a heated conversation of their frustration with their material situation. Basically they felt outside of the wealth and prosperity they see around them and were assured that the design of society was to keep them from reaching the brass ring and they themselves from being rich.
I listened knowing that at this point in the conversation I could not get the 'proverbial word' in edgewise. I made a little squeaking sound and they said, “What is that?” I said the cliché, “It is a word trying to get in edgewise.”
I then said, “What is Happiness,” and I reminded them of the ‘Declaration of Independence’ which states the equality of men and the right to the pursuit of happiness. I then ask them to define happiness.
They pondered for a moment as I goaded them with my favorite spiel which is as I stated first rapidly, “Love, Hate, Joy, Grief, Fear, Jealousy and Grace.” They said, “What?” So I repeated, “Love, Hate, Joy, Grief, Fear, Jealousy and Grace,” and I iterated, “I’m happy when I love, have Joy and Grace and I’m dismayed when I hate have grief or fear or jealousy.
And I continued which is hard to do when a sage is trying to get into the minds of the young. I said, “Let’s start with jealousy.” I started with jealousy because that is what I could hear so pronounced in their conversation.” I said, “The primary needs of the human animal are, food, shelter and clothing.” This is grade school social studies education which is often overlooked because it is not really put into context.
I continued with Socratic dialog, “Do you have Food?” They said, “Yes but cheap stuff not that of the rich, like expensive steak and lobster.” To which I rolled my eyes and admonished them to continue to listen. I said, “Do you have shelter?” One of them still lived at home with his parents and the other had an apartment. The one with the apartment acknowledge that he had a crummy little apartment. I continued with, “And, you both look like you have clothes and are quite well dressed.” They agreed.
I said, “So you have all of the basic necessities which if you did not have these I would account that with unhappiness. But since you have these I should say you are happy that you are not poor.” Of course this did not please them.
They started in with a malaise of the ‘oppression by the rich’ and ‘their long hours and low pay’ and again I made a squeaking sound trying to break in, “Let me continue.” It is hard to get them to stop the speech center in the brain that flows endlessly.
Now I did a little inventory of their possessions again with Socratic questioning and discovered for them their many things which in this day are so common. They had cars and televisions and stereos and cell phones and video games. They bought fast food and power drinks and spent money at entertainment clubs, but considered themselves oppressed by the rich and they were wonton.
Again fighting to get them to listen, I raised my voice, “Do all those things you have bring you Joy?” They mumbled, “Sort of, but those are just toys; it is not what we really want.”
I seized on the moment, “What is it you really want; what is it that will really make you happy.” They went on with a list of bigger and better stuff and of course higher pay.”
I had them where I wanted them, “You have graduated form school and you have read history and the struggles of the past, but you learned nothing, and if you do not place yourself into history and struggle, you will never understand and for this reason I will place you as spoiled, jealous children pampered with toys and this is no ones doing but your own with one exception…, The world teaches you megalomania.
They said, “What?” I said, “You are a ‘nobody’ unless you are a ‘somebody’ and you are jealous and filled with hate and grief and rather than saving your money and educating yourself you spend it all on toys and frivolous times and you do nothing productive to enhance your position, if even that, in some way, will make you happy. You are beset with competition and struggle to grasp the proverbial ‘Brass Ring’ and if you got it, would you then be happy?”
I stated again, “Love, Hate, Joy, Grief, Fear, Jealousy and Grace. You are filled with, Hate, Grief and Fear. You hate your so called oppression, you are jealous over the possessions of others and you fear you will never have what they have. As a result you miss out on Love and Joy and Grace which you can find everyday if you would so choose.”
I added, “History is wasted on you and as of yet you have learned nothing.”
They started in on me, “What about you, you seem to have the so called toys that we have, are you not the same as us?” To which I said, “No, I, not like you, have happiness. I savor what you may call my mediocre existence and account myself rich compared to poverty and with my age and experience, I have won and lost and won again, which you my young friends will do also and thus is the beauty of the differential.”
To this again they said, “What?”
I said, “You can tell a child that the frying pan is hot and to not touch it, but until the child is burned it will not know. I cannot give you happiness, you must find it yourself. I cannot make you feel the suffering of others or have you put on the mantle of that which is taught by history. Blessed is the child that upon hearing the teachings of the father, do his instruction without being burned. I only hope for you that I have pointed the way.”
And there was silence.
And there was silence.