You may have read that Norway is the happiest country in the world according to the 2017 World Happiness Report (http://worldhappiness.report). I can completely understand that it might consider itself the most beautiful, as its close happiness competitors in Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland could do as well. But happy? Its weather can be grim, taxes are high, and I can imagine considerable financial and physical challenges to living there, having found it an expensive (but fabulous) place to visit.
The World Happiness Report looks at the role of social factors as contributors to life quality and evaluates a data base of 155 countries to reach its conclusions. The United States this year dropped to 14th in rankings, “largely because of poor social support and cohesion” quoting The New York Times in The Week Magazine.
I suspect it is easier to develop cohesion and social support in smaller nations than ours, but I still have to wonder how happiness enters a national psyche when a country tries to achieve those goals, particularly at high tax cost to its citizens. Perhaps our Congressional denizens should review the federal budget from a new perspective and adapt a thing or two from countries who seem to have a novel definition of what “quality of life” means. My guess is it has something to do with different values and ideals than we currently seem to prefer. Norway contributed to my personal happiness; my national happiness has some questions to ask, some pondering to do, and some lessons to learn.
Just as I stand speechless when privileged to view the natural treasures of this nation, I am beyond words when told that protection of our environment is less important than other economic interests addressed in the federal budget. How can that be? What amount of money, what project, what pressures, what argument for or against climate change, is of greater value than being awestruck by the wonders that have dazzled for centuries? Have we lost our sensibilities for that which is not man-made? Do we feel no responsibility for walking lightly on this earth, protecting humans and animals and plants from the carelessness we seem willing to tolerate from industry? We are fearful of so much these days; why are we not fearful of compromises to our air and water? We want governmental protection of our borders; why do we not demand government protection of our land?
The incredible nature photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) said it for me: “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” Horrifying, and completely unimaginable.
In keeping with the idiomatic expression about flocking birds, I imposed a quote by John Locke (1632-1704) on a photograph of a painted bird house. In general, birds seem fairly content to follow their leader without judgment. I suppose that makes sense for most species.
The ruined wall is in Cuba, Kierkegaard lived in the early 1800s, and truth remains elusive.
Had this been a novel, I’d have found the story fiendishly clever and the product of a highly imaginative, complex mind, capable of spinning an exciting yarn with frightening implications. But it isn’t a novel. It’s reality. I have yet to wrap my mind around what has already taken place in our country, and what it portends. Read it and weep, or get very, very angry.