Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anything for a happy heart?

(This is Part 3 in a series. Read Part 1 and part 2 here.)

One man complains about the “brave new world,” and they call him a Savage.
But, he asks, without emotion, without suffering and conflict, where is the nobility? Where is the heroism?

Read the description of a world without such things:

"My dear young friend," said Mustapha Mond, "civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic. Conditions have got to be thoroughly unstable before the occasion can arise. Where there are wars, where there are divided allegiances, where there are temptations to be resisted, objects of love to be fought for or defended–there, obviously, nobility and heroism have some sense. But there aren't any wars nowadays. The greatest care is taken to prevent you from loving any one too much. There's no such thing as a divided allegiance; you're so conditioned that you can't help doing what you ought to do. And what you ought to do is on the whole so pleasant, so many of the natural impulses are allowed free play, that there really aren't any temptations to resist. And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there's always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there's always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears–that's what soma is.” Brave New World

So, what’s wrong with this? It’s a little difficult to sort out. Of course we want to avoid suffering, and in theory, this is not a bad thing.

But let’s see where this avoidance of suffering, or chasing of one’s happiness, leads: both in the Brave New World and in your own life.  Does chasing your own happiness lead you to a growing love for God and for others?

Or does it result in a smaller heart, one preoccupied with itself, and easily closed to the sufferings of another?

Part of me would love to achieve some sort of inner calmness. I’d love to be the one who can handle all things with a smile, with wisdom and cheerfulness. I’d love to be free from stress and grief and heartache.  (And I’d love to do this with my own willpower, but if I could use a magic pill instead, I’d probably do that too.)

But here, in this place, that sort of thing is simply not possible without making some major changes. For me to achieve that, I would have to snap my heart shut, and numb it. I’d have to make it harden, so that it could never be unsettled by the tragedies of this broken world.

As Emily P. Freeman writes, “Trying not to experience the whole spectrum of emotions is like trying to be inhuman.” p. 57 Grace for the Good Girl

So, do you agree?
And if so, what else is there besides chasing our own happy feelings?

1 comment:

  1. Oh the pain that we wish could avoid, the sadness we could miss.....but missing those emotions would also have to eliminate knowing love for with that comes sadness, eliminating pain would eliminate the tiniest blessings you carry for 9 months....Thank you for sharing and linking up at Simply Helping Him! Blessings!

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