BE HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY ALL THE TIME
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Polar bears are drowning but what the hell. Don't worry, be happy.
At least that's the Republican philosophy as spelled out - at last! - by a letter-writer to The Boston Globe. According to her, Democrats are miserable. Republicans are happy. It's as easy as that. Where have liberals gone wrong?
Headlined "Conservatives Have More Fun," the writer lays it out with a simplicity that is nothing short of breathtaking. "Could it be that we conservatives have a more positive world view?" she says. "How about a more positive view of the future?"
How can you be happy, she asks, when you think your country "consists of imperialist occupiers trying to take over the world." But if, like her, you "realize the true road to freedom happens when democracies lead to thriving societies, you're feeling pretty good right now."
As that thriving democracy in Iraq hangs by a hair over a cauldron of civil war, as Muslims all over the world are so outraged at our invasion and occupation that they take to the streets to protest a few cynical cartoons, as every Middle Eastern country that gets a choice between modernity and Sharia law goes for that old-time religion, it becomes clear that President George W. Bush could be leaving behind him a string of democratically-elected fundamentalist governments.
But let's not worry. Be happy. "Let's think about the environment," the letter-writer continues in her merry, bubbly way. "Liberals believe we've ruined the earth and it's just a matter of time before it's uninhabitable. By now, if you're a liberal, you're really depressed. In reality, the United States is a model for the world and has some of the best air and water quality of any industrialized nation."
Sure we do. In bottles. For sale. But the oceans are over. The polar ice caps are melting, hence the drowning polar bears. Deforested mountains are producing killer mud slides. There's a drought in the Midwest. Bird migration routes are changing. Up here in Vermont, we can't eat the fish in our rivers and streams because of mercury poisoning. The aquifers that feed our wells are polluted by acid rain. Sugaring season is disrupted by global warming. The other day I heard about a study predicting that snowfall in Vermont will end in about 20 years. This is scary stuff.
What this woman is really saying is, "I've got my McMansion and my Escalade and my kids are in a private school, and America works for me."
The letter-writer's thinking drips with selfishness and arrogance about her place in the universe. Jesus didn't say, "Don't worry, be happy." I seem to recall him saying that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
The combination of the "I've got mine, Jack" philosophy with the "my happiness is the only thing that matters, and to hell with everybody else" is how people like President Bush gain power.
Why should we care if we're torturing brown skinned folk in secret prisons? Who cares if the government is listening to our phone calls and reading our e-mails - we have nothing to hide. We must hate freedom. Only namby-pamby civil libertarians care about due process and rule of law. There's a war on, don't you know? By ignoring the many real problems that fester around her, the letter-writer can delude herself that everything is fine and liberals are just crabby cry-babies.
But even many Republicans are finally realizing that their Dear Leader is an incompetent fool. Is this is a case of buyers remorse, or are they starting to see that despite the generally messed-up state of the Democratic Party, the GOPs could still lose control of Congress out of general voter disgust?
"We have a choice each morning we're lucky enough to open our eyes," says the letter-writer. "We can look at our lives and society in a positive manner and work toward making a better world for our children, or we can endlessly dwell on every negative aspect of life... I know which one will make me a happier person."
Happy, happy, happy. But on analysis, the letter-writer is confusing personal happiness with political happiness. Speaking strictly for my liberal self, I'm a pretty happy person. Most of the people I know are, too. Just because we hate the direction our government has taken doesn't mean we don't love and enjoy our families, our homes, our friends, our community and our work.
I refuse to allow my disgust with Mr. Bush and his policies spoil my personal life. Life is short and wasting eight years of it being miserable doesn't make any sense. If you fall into that trap, the terrorists have won.
America today isn't a case of happiness or depression. It's a matter of facing reality or living in a rose colored bubble where everything is fine. And when the jumbo jet crashes into the office tower, you wonder what the hell happened. Why do they hate us?
Speaking of being happy, Tuesday was Town Meeting day in Vermont. My town, along with several others, voted to ask our Washington representative to start impeachment proceedings against President Bush. The Associated Press picked up the story. Reading it, liberals across America learned that they are not alone. Hopefully, this will further support them in their struggles for political change and social justice.
Frankly, a little political change and social justice will make a lot of people very, very happy. In fact, when Mr. Bush is gone, there will be dancing in the streets.
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about culture, politics, economics and travel. A collection of her columns, "A Thousand Words or Less," will be out in May. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.