Pursuing happiness, as Jefferson suggested, will assist us overcome divisions_ Kenneth W. Chalker

CLEVELAND — Not too long ago, The Plain Supplier had a front-page article headlined, “GOP fracture spills into the chamber.” The article detailed a struggle over Ohio Home guidelines, whereas giving one other indication of how our ever-more-right-leaning Republican Ohio Home of Representatives is slipping deeper into the pit of incongruous hypocrisy.

The dissension over the 2 Republicans who had been vying for the workplace of Home Speaker is one indication of the persevering with hypocritical slide. However studying about a number of of the amendments to Home guidelines being proposed for the legislative chamber put me in a lower than nice temper.

Two of these proposed amendments — each in the end not adopted — have been to permit weapons within the Home chamber and to require that opening prayers earlier than periods solely be “Christian prayers.” Who would have determined what are completely Christian prayers and who would have been licensed to supply them?

Weapons and God. It has at all times been a tragic alignment in politics. Certainly, it appears the politics of the ever-more-hysterical right-wing Christian evangelicals are motivating these amendments being put ahead by these presently within the majority within the Ohio Home. Weapons and God are an outdated and deadly combine. Such proposals additionally illustrate a wide ranging religious conceitedness, in addition to a sign of childish spirituality. And now within the Ohio Home, some wish to be armed when voting!

In so many locations, the US is politically not a really pleased place. In my present dangerous temper and ranting about it, all I’m asking is: No matter has occurred to the decidedly basic American pursuit of happiness?

In his Pulitzer-Prize-winning guide, “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Higher Angels,” Jon Meacham helpfully expands our understanding of Thomas Jefferson’s well-known Declaration of Independence phrase, “the pursuit of happiness.” Meacham factors out that the sense of this happiness phrase was understood by the founders of our nation to imply a authorities that may foster advantage, good conduct, and a beneficiant citizenship in its individuals.


Pursuing happiness isn’t about advocating a brand new nationalism or the best of people in America to have a self-satisfied life or some assured freedom for particular person pursuits. Somewhat, as necessary as such particular person pursuits could also be, the pursuit of happiness on this nation is extra concerning the common temper of a nation’s individuals. Or, as the traditional Greek definition of happiness conveys (and the sense through which Jefferson understood the phrase to imply), pursuing happiness is to hunt the flourishing of a nation’s individuals.

I discover this a really useful clarification. It lifts my dangerous temper when studying and excited about present Ohio politics.

It’s centering and uplifting to assume that our nation’s founders – not less than on their greatest days – envisioned a nation through which authorities would search the happiness – the flourishing of advantage, good conduct, and beneficiant citizenship of all its individuals. Can we resolve to make happiness, in Jefferson’s sense of the phrase, aspirational once more?

Pursuing happiness and getting out of a nasty temper happen after we select to hitch the voices crying within the current wilderness, saying, “Sufficient!”

We can’t be discouraged by the seemingly louder voices of political, ethical, and spiritual selfishness of these within the Ohio Home or wherever else who search completely Christian prayers and advocate for unrestricted weapons. Finally, irrespective of the fiery trials which such initiatives create, these voices will probably be overcome by the higher angels of our nature.

We should carry on declaring our independence from the voices of division, irrespective of how presently profitable and presently highly effective their amplified platforms. We should work arduous in each method open to us to advance the flourishing – the happiness – of our nation.

To take action is to see the prayers of affection provided by the followers of Jesus, or Moses, or Mohammad or all of the world’s individuals of religion as efficacious. To hunt such a happiness is to place these prayers into motion.

The Rev. Kenneth W. Chalker is the retired senior pastor of College Circle United Methodist Church and is an appointed member of the Residents Advisory Council on Fairness for Cuyahoga County.

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