“Let things true be preferred to things false,
things eternal to things momentary,
things useful to things agreeable.”
We hold these truths to be self-evident… first written as a declaration not only to Great Britain but to the far reaches of History as this great experiment in Freedom was begun. Two centuries ago it was a statement of unity in our belief that certain human values must be pursued collectively, as a ‘people.’ My fear is that our culture is in such a state currently that what many people hold to be self-evident is their personal right to happiness, which they consider independent from and above the collective good of the ‘people.’
Often, ‘I’ comes before ‘We.’
I say ‘often’ because I hate sweeping generalizations about people and because I know that we, as Americans, still
give more aid collectively and personally to needy people in the world than any other nation. But with that said, I think many of ‘We’ people have become spoiled by Freedom into believing that our personal preferences and happiness should come before the good of our fellow man.
“Surely God wants me to be happy, doesn’t He?” I hear this often in counseling with people. People use this sentiment-laden question to justify all sorts of behaviors in their lives from leaving marriages to leaving churches to walking on people to forward careers. To be honest, I’m pretty sure ‘happiness’ is not nearly as true in describing what God wants for us as ‘usefulness’ is. Happiness is an emotion based in situation. Instead, God wants joy and He knows usefulness leads to joy, which is an abiding state of mind brought about by purposeful living.
Purpose always trumps emotion.
I don’t have much pontificating to do on this subject because I struggle with it too. Just take some time to evaluate whether you’re living your life based on your personal preferences and personal happiness as opposed to living your life for the good of humanity, which should produce great joy when we understand our place in ‘We the People.’