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Why Aren't We Happy? Not Enough Banjos to Go Around?

Posted by twayneking on Tuesday, November 5, 2013

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Prepared for the Banjo Apocalypse

I wound up in a discussion with some banjo players recently about happiness and joy. A recent study found that the United States, the world's entertainment and fun leader and arguably the wealthiest in the world (how else could we afford that much debt), ranked a mere 21st in "happiness" among all nations. Ironically, Iceland, a land of perpetual winter, with a population ranked nearly the highest among nations for alcoholism and seasonal affective disorder ranked number 1 in "happiness".  Given that a pint of beer costs what most people make in a day there, one has to be pretty determined, not to mention hard-working to have an alcohol problem in Iceland.  So why, asked one wag, aren't we happier than we are?

Perhaps our problem is that Americans have lost their joy. Perhaps, where once we were certain that life would get better and that there was some meaning to our sojourn here on this earth, we have come to think of life as either an arbitrary crap shoot, the result of random chance and random evolution or, worse yet, the result of exploitation and manipulation by the privileged class. I think that's an artifact of the rise of the introduction of a pervasive post-modernist philosophy into our culture. Post-modernism rejects the idea that things will get better and that life has meaning. There was a poster/bumper sticker that was popular in the 70s and 80s that proclaimed, "S@#$% Happens!" The underlying message was that things just happen arbitrarily. There is no meaning; no grand purpose. You can't do anything about it. The supposedly wise among us, the university professors and television pundits, proclaimed it a realistic view of the world and many in our culture accepted it uncritically as truth. Our cutting edge films and television shows these day reflect that emptiness and despair.

It's as though the whole country has developed bipolar disorder and swings alternately between despair and mania - neither of which are any fun let me tell you. It makes sense that it should be so, if, as the gurus say, life is meaningless.  Fortunately, there is still a sizable core of Americans left who believe life does mean something, that we ARE going somewhere good and that playing the banjo on the back porch is plenty fun and expresses our inner joy thank you very much.

To read this entire post check out my blog.

Just one man's opinion,

Tom King

© 2013 by Tom King



5 comments on “Why Aren't We Happy? Not Enough Banjos to Go Around?”

mainejohn Says:
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 @4:54:54 PM

Well said...I'll share this with others.

twayneking Says:
Monday, November 18, 2013 @6:58:10 PM

Thanks.

nechville Says:
Monday, November 18, 2013 @7:42:49 PM

I'm with ya Bro.

mudlakesandy Says:
Friday, November 22, 2013 @7:18:20 AM

Tom K, interesting comments. I have been lately reading a collection of Mark Twain's works. In excess of 100 years old some of the problems remain the same, but Twain's take on them is exquisite. HIs political commentary would fit today precisely with only a name change. And his observations of life's normal problems are riotous. I strongly recommend to any and all. Twain wrote for a living and I am not speaking of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn here but rather the multitude of articles, travel pieces and short stories.
-S

twayneking Says:
Friday, November 22, 2013 @8:53:02 AM

Very familiar with his work. He struggled in his later years in part because of his growing cynicism about the human race and due to his personal losses. But like you said, he had a rapier wit and a knack for skewering the pompous.

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