And if happiness is the goal or telos of mankind and of human history, the question becomes one of whether humanity and mankind have been making progress in achieving and attaining this goal, and if not, how far off are we from its achievement and attainment? And if we have regressed, how far have we regressed in the achievement and attainment of this goal? Also, what we overlook is that happiness is not merely a far-off goal to be attained. In fact, happiness is considered to be an “unalienable right” based on one of America’s two foundational documents, namely, the ‘Declaration of Independence.’ The other foundational document, if folks are not aware, is the U.S. Constitution. The “Declaration of Independence” clearly states right from the start:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Findings show that the United States ranks 19th in terms of overall happiness amongst all countries, despite being the foremost military and economic power in the world and despite the fact that happiness is supposed to be an “unalienable right” in the United States along with safety and security. More than 30 percent of American adults suffer from anxiety, according to the ‘National Institutes of Health’ (NIH), and anxiety is growing most rapidly amongst teenagers in the United States. The overwhelming majority of Americans, according to mainstream polling and statistics, believe that the United States is in the grip of some sort of mental health crisis. 

According to America’s Chamber of Commerce, Washington D.C. is the loneliest and least happy city in the United States. Fontana, located in Southern California, is considered the least lonely place in the United States. Hawaii is considered to be the state with the lowest rate of depression in the United States, while West Virginia is ranked as the state with the highest rate of depression. Outside of the United States, Finland is considered to be the happiest country in the world based on a number of findings, while Afghanistan is found to be the least happy country in the world. 

As Hannah Arendt argued, happiness and freedom have a “public” aspect or “public” dimension to it, in the sense that political and social activism, the freedom to assemble, the freedom of speech, and other public freedoms are the true sources of happiness in a society. Why tyranny is something that is anathema to free and happy people is because tyranny “deprived men of public happiness and public freedom without necessarily encroaching upon the pursuit of personal interests and the enjoyment of private rights.” 

Action and revolution, then, are the most public acts of political and social activism, and in turn are the greatest sources of happiness in the event that there is a downturn or regression in the achievement and attainment of public happiness and public freedom. It is when people are “intoxicated with the wine of action” when public happiness and public freedom are realized to their fullest extent in a society. “Men of letters” or hommes de lettres ultimately find that it was “their search of public freedom and public happiness” and “not their quest for truth” which “led men back to antiquity” and into “the secluded obscurity of private studies, reflections, and dreams” in order to search for “some cure for grief” as Arendt noted. Oscar Wilde famously contended that “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” But as we have found, happiness requires the real-life application of one’s education and knowledge at some point in time in order for men to achieve their aim or goal of happiness. 

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