Question difficult to be answered... who could affirm that? Because happiness depends more of our internal feelings than of the external advantages. A simple citizen today, lives, undoubtedly, better and more comfortably than a noble lord of the 18th century. We have rapid transport, paved streets, public system of illumination, ATM machines, agreeable places where to eat, audio equipments, satelital TV, cell phones, fast communications crossing the whole planet in seconds, an advanced medicine, social security, etc. Comparing this with how they lived, for example, in the 17th and 18th century, with dirty sidewalks, deficient illumination system, streets smelling to horse depositions, with a society divided in classes, with a system of submission and obedience to the landlords or the king, benefits for very few people, a medicine treating patients with enemas, bleedings or purgatives, dental extractions without anesthesia, waters with danger of infections, childbirths with high mortality of the newborn children, without systems of current waters in the houses, and so many more disadvantages, we might imagine that the whole advance of the world has been for a major happiness of the humanity. Nevertheless ... we live in a world with high percentage of suicides, abundance of depressed people, with worried faces (except when they want to sell something in the advertisements), and, if today we would make a survey ... of how many people we could obtain the response that they are really happy?
Born for this world of today, as children accustomed to the luxury, very little we value all the benefits which we enjoy: we feel them as something natural. For any of our ancestors, this world would be probably an indescribable paradise (though we don’t want to think about the face they would have on having smelt the carbon monoxide flowing from the vehicles’ pipes, or on having been stocked an hour in a highway, or on having seen their aggressive, hungry children, sleepless and frustrated, before dazzling video games in which nobody ever wins ...). But, undoubtedly, anyway, they would have been agreeably surprised.
In what does happiness reside, then? Probably, partly, in being able to evaluate what the humanity has obtained for us, and what others lacked for centuries. Today we laugh at many things of the past. But, can today’s man laugh of those who believed that the Earth was flat and supported for a giant tortoise, when he is sadly disoriented not knowing exactly in what universe he lives? Could laugh of somebody an individual for whom the cosmogonies are ended, and to whom all his science cannot explain how the universe began and what is beyond it? The man of the 21st century has turned to be a disconcerted navigator, who strolls between macro and microcosmic dimensions with, yet very little information. There was never a better area for bigger existential distress: Without the closed faith of our ancestors, for whom the world was a totally established and perfect order, and inside which they were feeling protected, now we are walking again among the shades of platonic caverns. And if we force attempts of explanation of the world, now only we have in the hand theories. We have lost the blind believes of our ancestors.
And today, with all these amazing technological benefits, let's remind that despite the inconveniences of the past, the human being could then elaborate the sharpest philosophical thought, composed the best symphonies, which still delight us, built grand cathedrals and the most beautiful sculptures, achieve pictorial works of art that today worth millions of dollars. To bequeath real cultural treasures, both in the Art and in the universal thought.
Every stone, every mountain, every river, every landscape, are covered by the affection of the memory of all the moments through that our ancestors have lived; they have loved, laughed, wept, fought, and, certainly, they have had moments of great happiness. In all the simple things: on having been corresponded by a love, on having constructed a home or on having seen the born of a son. In a not contaminated world, which was still full of infinite promises.
Let's do votes because our man of the future will not be thinking about solving his affective conflicts sat opposite to a realistic hologram trying to make him happy with programmed answers. Yet we have to preserve something of heritance of our ancestors: the innocence of an authentic happiness.
Pablo Briand, a silent and meaningful morning at the end of June of 2009, in South Beach.