In the past few days we have had two examples of events that illuminate the need for happiness. However, there are many who seem to be in an active campaign against happiness.
Some were cynical about the royal wedding and poo-pooed it as trivial and a waste of money. But why wouldn't we revel in something that is primarily happy and sweet?
There are many reasons to, at the very least, allow ourselves to crack a smile about the wedding. Just witnessing a marriage in Western Europe that invoked God and occurred in a church is somewhat of a rarity that should please many. It was a healthy societal event. And given that most news is awful, this was a brief respite from the constant drumbeat of unpleasant world events. To see a young couple commit to each other in front of millions who wished them well certainly induced happiness in the world.
And for the less emotionally inclined among us, the amount of human excellence that went into this wedding was phenomenal. And the celebration of such handiwork is appropriate. The dress making, the uniforms, the architecture, the ceremony, the music, the voices, the aviation, the horsemanship, the carriage craftsmanship. The best in all of these arenas was on display during the wedding. In a world where beauty has been taken over by the provocative in the arts, this artful demonstration was a breath of fresh air. It was elevating rather than debasing.
Sometimes a cynicism and machismo often stands in the way of enjoying events such as this and many of us (and I include myself) reflexively won't allow ourselves to revel in the moment of such events.
And then along comes a story that appears to be sufficiently manly that those of us less inclined towards ladies' hats can rally around; bin Laden has been killed. With a similar fervor to the fawning media that prattled on and on about Kate's dress, pundits are carefully dissecting every stitch and detail of bin Laden's death.
His death was satisfying. It was necessary. It was punitive. It was vengeance. It was the appropriate application of the death penalty by those in the world who are interested in justice. It was good – good to remove from the earth such an active enemy of goodness and happiness.
Goodness is harder to come by than evil and usually requires the concerted efforts of large portions of the population. Evil can be done in wide swaths by very few people. Consider the evil done to so many families and individuals by bin Laden and his small band of haters. And contrast that to the multi-year effort by so many in the US Armed Forces required to stop one purveyor of evil.
What does all of this talk of happiness and these two wildly different stories have in common? I do not suspect that bin Laden was a happy man. Happy people don't do the sorts of things he did or encouraged.
People are largely the product of what they ingest. This is true nutritionally, emotionally and spiritually. And in general, we are as happy as we allow ourselves to be. So allow yourself and others to ingest the happiness surrounding such apparently trivial events as a royal wedding. Crack a smile.
Then understand that seeing such large scale acts of goodness tells you something about the society from which it comes. There is an underlying happiness that is expressed in the celebration. Those cultures are beacons for goodness in the world and stand in opposition to cultures and philosophies that breed and encourage hate and acts of evil.
Be grateful that you live in a happy culture.