Sunday, 3 May 2009

Happiness is a Warm Gun

I've just returned from Addenbrooke's Hospital, where I spent 4 hours in A&E waiting to see if I'd broken my ankle. Finally, having had a huge walking boot fitted by a breathtakingly handsome and genuinely nice young Gilbert Blythe-ish doctor (of course, I was looking like hell: spectacles, hoodie and jogging bottoms, smeared mascara. Add a dowager's hump, stick a tent over me and charge admission), I lurched out past a little family: two responsible parents, and a angelically pretty little girl who'd just been bought a teddy bear from the hospital giftshop. She was chattering away to parents who were clearly interested in what she had to say. She won't be needing the happiness lessons proposed by the notorious Jim Rose, then.
I googled Jim Rose; the first two entries were for circuses, which seems quite appropriate as the man relentlessly proposes clownish embellishments to our already beleaguered, over-cosseted, under-educated little guinea pigs who have suffered under successive burdens of 'progressive' teaching methods to the extent that they're going to grow up lazy, incurious and unemployable. Now, along with all the other bits of social engineering rubbish (because they don't want anyone to start forming exclusive groups by themselves: that's hierarchical and classist and non-Utopian) children have got to learn to analyse their emotions and develop happiness strategies. Which will have the effect of creating huge amounts of business for psychiatrists, but will damage children irreparably.
You can't teach unformed minds how to develop coping strategies for things they haven't experienced. You can't quantify happiness. And it's very difficult to qualify it. To do so is to orchestrate someone's existence for them, because you're telling them what should or even must make them happy. And to self-examine complex emotions behind feelings is a skill most adults don't even have, one which is still being developed because psychology is not a finite subject: different models are constantly being proposed, and the practise of it is ever-evolving. I find the suggestion that the State can dictate what passes for 'joy' - in their grey, dull, Health & Safety orientated, homogenized world - sinister in the extreme. In fact, I'd go as far to say that it's a recipe for disaster, a reason to contemplate ending one's existence. Because you see, if they get hold of the children's minds, then the kind of world we grow old in is going to be a very terrifying one, one in which everything is done 'for our own good', but no-one can remember what 'good' entails.


  1. Dear (Una)bomber,poor Nicaraguan leg.The NHS compares poorly avec France.How pessamistic you are re:happiness.Still someone called me a pessamist & I replied no,a realist!

  2. It is a poor wee leg - swollen out and hideous. I have a cankle. (Calf + ankle.) I'm not overtly pessimistic; I just think the idea of teaching 'happiness' in schools according to this government's absolute lack of moral values is a horrific idea.

  3. Indeed, scunnert; it is indeed. And therefore it simply *cannot* be taught.

  4. We hold these truths to be self evident (as someone famous once said)
    1. Rose is an idiot of the first water.
    2. A child of 5 plus is incapable, as you have demonstrated, of analysing 'self'

    I have visions of 'Brave New World'....we have ways of making you happy!

  5. I know what a cankle is (Shallow Hal).Yes one cannot teach happiness.Absurdity is the hallmark ofyour masters.

  6. Indeed, Cato... and the Founding Fathers specified the *pursuit* of happiness, rather than happiness itself. Brave New World indeed; or Winston Smith right at the very end of 1984?
    "They" say that a person isn't fully self-aware until the age of at least 7; the age at which a child is deemed culpable for crimes by law.
    I'd wrongly entered my email address on my frontpage; I've amended it!!

  7. Mara,
    I'm not sure your e-mail addy is right yet. I've tried it and variations on a theme but it's not recognised by googlemail

  8. Oh, Cato, I really am a nit... I think I have got it right FINALLY! See above.

  9. Stan Rosenthal15 May 2009 at 13:39

    So happiness lessons are just another kind of brainwashing by the state are they, Mara.

    I suppose you would prefer people to be brainwashed by Big Business into a way of life which equates happiness with owning more and more of everything (look where that's getting us) and never being satisfied with what we have.

    If not, when will naive libertarians like yourself realise that it is only the state (properly controlled by democracy and the rule of law) that can hold these other forces back?

    That's what these "state" lessons are partly about, countering the deadening influences of a materialistic way of life. They are also about helping us to find a way through the maze of unhappiness which infortunately is part of the human condition and to savour the kind of things listed in your "likes" (which I share btw). Or it that you just want to keep them for yourself? :-)

  10. No, no, no, no, no and No.
    I would wish that no-one be brainwashed by anyone - and presenting big business as the only viable alternative to state control is crapulous in the extreme - but be able to get on with the business of living.
    Contrary to your blithe utopian view of the state, the majority of people in this country are living in fear; they are fed up with being surveilled 24/7, for paying for wars and bank bail-outs with which they do not agree, with taxes skyrocketing, an unelected Prime Minister who refuses to seek anyone else's counsel and regularly fires small projectiles at his minions, at the threat of 'terror' and 'global warming' and what will happen to their innards if, God forbid, they eat a kebab. The ruthlessness of this state cares nothing for its people's happiness and everything for its ability to control; Jacqui Smith's ever-increasing grip on the internal lives of British citizens are a case in point. As for materialism, socialism is by necessity material; it mocks religion and seeking any form of wisdom outside of itself. What world are you living in? A) Read Karl Popper and B) allow people to find their own way through the 'maze of unhappiness'. Socialists. Yeesh.


Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison