Rain kept us in, in CoPhi yesterday morning, where the topic of choice was love. Told again my tale of romantic friends who’ve held out for a perfect match, a singular better half without which they’d be forever incomplete, and in consequence spent the better part of their lifetimes alone. That story ends with a twist, now, since my friends finally found adequate matches in their later innings – or would they say “perfect”ones? Either way, my contention is that we ought not condemn ourselves to searching for needles in haystacks, when we might find what we’re looking for right under our noses, out in the open. Might even find a surfeit of possibilities.
Not everyone is willing to renounce the pursuit of perfection, though I do think I notice fewer young people lately who say they’re waiting for their perfect prince(ss). Those who do, the Christian Platonists, tend also to say that they’re trusting God, the ultimate matchmaker.com, to arrange it. But for most, it seems, love – like happiness – is a choice and not a destiny. I call this progress.
By late afternoon the skies had cleared, and we concluded Happiness by choosing to take our discussions outdoors. The last chapters of Daniel Haybron’s Very Short Intro left us with many choices: Will having kids make you happier? Or better? Is acting badly “out of the question,” even if it makes you happier? What will they say about you at your funeral? Is it true that no old person every entertains a final regret at not having ended it all much earlier? Are our devices and the social media they plug us into turning us into ironically anti-social drones?
But the topic we finally chose, and (so far as I could tell) did not answer uniformly, was simply to comment on Haybron’s plainest statement of principle: “One should not be an asshole in the pursuit of happiness.” It may be your perfect right, but it is still wrong. At least, it’s our right to say so.
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