The Never Ending Pursuit of Freedom of A People And A Nation

The Pursuit of Happiness: What the Founders Meant—And Didn't
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Students woke up, and they grabbed their backpacks and they headed for class. And soon the day took a dark turn, with students and faculty barricading themselves in classrooms and dormitories -- confused, terrified, and deeply worried. By the end of the morning, it was the worst day of violence on a college campus in American history -- and for many of you here today, it was the worst day of your lives. It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering. Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate.

They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now they're gone -- and they leave behind grieving families, and grieving classmates, and a grieving nation. We have a strategy to deal with al Qaeda in Iraq.

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But any time you say to a bunch of cold-blooded killers, success depends on no violence, all that does is hand them the opportunity to be successful. And it's hard. I know it's hard for the American people to turn on their TV screens and see the horrific violence. It speaks volumes about the American desire to protect lives of innocent people, America's deep concern about human rights and human dignity.

It also speaks volumes about al Qaeda, that they're willing to take innocent life to achieve political objectives. The terrorists will continue to fight back. In other words, they understand what they're doing. And casualties are likely to stay high. Yet, day by day, block by block, we are steadfast in helping Iraqi leaders counter the terrorists, protect their people, and reclaim the capital. And if I didn't think it was necessary for the security of the country, I wouldn't put our kids in harm's way.

Either we'll succeed, or we won't succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that's what we're trying to achieve. Please help improve this article by adding reliable references.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. The world must know that this administration will not blink in the face of danger, and will not tire when it comes to completing the missions that we said we would do. Press conference, Crawford, Texas December 28 , Disputed [ edit ] The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for "entrepreneur. Alastair Campbell, Blair's director of communications, later said that Blair never heard Bush say this and never told Baroness Williams that he said it.

We're not going to have any casualties. Bush campaign advisor Karen Hughes, who was not working in Washington at the time of the invasion, claimed in that Bush did not say this. See John King , " No casualties?

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First, the most important thing is to realize that the happy life is about more than just me: my health, my wealth, my safety and security. We would not permit, say, one political party to flourish and deny the chance for another to do the same. Or, to shift the imagery, we would not want our daughters to flourish but not our sons. Why, then, are we satisfied to let some neighborhoods in a city languish, or some schools in a district fail? Why are we willing to let some countries deteriorate?

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By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Advance article alerts. Shaath later clarified this with "We understood that he was illustrating [in his comments] his strong faith and his belief that this is what God wanted. Article Contents. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

So, first and foremost, we have to think more globally, more organically. This is a truly transnational issue. All humans share this planet and therefore all humans — and all governments — must take responsibility for its care, particularly in redressing the lack of care that we have exercised for far too long.

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Without doing so, there will simply be no place for humans to flourish. Could it be any more simple? Third, despite the important role played by governments and law, it is increasingly clear that important things like food, medicine and safe living conditions cannot always wait for the slow movements of governments. Positive psychology has highlighted the crucial role of positive institutions , including — when they function at their best — families, workplaces and communities of faith.

These must be ready to do the hard work of helping others flourish when the government proves ineffectual as it often does. In the Bible, the prophet Isaiah has a vision along these very lines: a time where everyone will turn in their weapon and melt them all down to make more farm equipment Isa That is not a bad vision of thick happiness: for both humanity and the world!

Editor's note: Since this interview was originally published on June 30, , it has consistently ranked among the most-read articles in the Emory News Center. As the Fourth of July holiday again approaches, we spoke with Professor Brent Strawn about why a "thick" understanding of "the pursuit of happiness" may be even more important in our current political climate. His additional answers appear at the end of the interview.

More than just fireworks and cookouts, the Fourth of July offers an opportunity to reflect on how our founders envisioned our new nation — including the Declaration of Independence's oft-quoted "unalienable right" to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But our contemporary understanding of "pursuit of happiness" is a thinner, less meaningful shadow of what the Declaration's authors intended, according to Brent Strawn, who teaches religion and theology in Emory's Candler School of Theology and Graduate Division of Religion.

As we celebrate Independence Day, Strawn discusses what "pursuit of happiness" is commonly thought to mean today, what our founders meant, and how a "thick" understanding of happiness can be a better guide for both individuals and nations. The Declaration of Independence guarantees the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I think most people think "pursuit" in that phrase means "chasing happiness" — as in the phrase "in hot pursuit.

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How does this differ from what our nation's founders meant when the Declaration of Independence was written? It differs a lot! Arthur Schlesinger should be credited with pointing out in a nice little essay in that at the time of the Declaration's composition, "the pursuit of happiness" did not mean chasing or seeking it, but actually practicing happiness, the experience of happiness — not just chasing it but actually catching it, you might say. This is demonstrated by documents that are contemporary with the Declaration, but also by the Declaration itself, in the continuation of the same sentence that contains "the pursuit of happiness" phrase.

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The continuation speaks of effecting people's safety and happiness. But the clearest explanation might be the Virginia Convention's Declaration of Rights, which dates to June 12, , just a few weeks before July 4. The Virginia Declaration actually speaks of the "pursuing and obtaining" of happiness. Seeking happiness is one thing but actually obtaining it and experiencing it — practicing happiness!

It's the difference between dreaming and reality. Remember that the pursuit of happiness, in the Declaration, is not a quest or a pastime , but "an unalienable right. To use a metaphor: You don't just get the chance to make the baseball team, you are guaranteed a spot. That's a very different understanding. The next part of the sentence in the Declaration of Independence states "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.

In the Declaration, "the pursuit of happiness" is listed with the other "unalienable rights" of "life" and "liberty. You are either alive or dead, free or enslaved. Governments have something to say about those states by how they govern their citizens. If happiness is akin to life and liberty —as the Declaration and the original meaning of "the pursuit of happiness" say — then we are not dealing with momentary pleasurable sensations "I'm happy the sun came out this afternoon" but with deep and extended qualities of life the happiness one feels to be cancer-free, for instance.

According to the Declaration, the extended quality of happiness — what we might call the good or flourishing life — is or should be a primary concern of government. That means it isn't just about my happiness, especially idiosyncratically defined, but about all citizens' happiness. If the founders' understanding of the "pursuit of happiness" does, indeed, have "profound public policy ramifications, and thus real connections to social justice," what are some specific examples of actions the government does or should take to secure that right today?

If we operate with a thick definition of happiness, then we have to think beyond simplistic understandings of happiness — as important as those are — and think about the good life more broadly. It may be that the American Dream, if that is parsed as lots of money and the like, isn't a sufficient definition of the good life or true happiness. It may, in fact, be detrimental.