Wednesday, April 18, 2012

[Don't] Lie to Me

            Once again, my contemporary Adarsh has forced my hand by posting an article I vehemently disagree with. His claim that to achieve the maximum happiness one possibly can he or she should accept or even desire to be lied to is one that I feel urged by animal spirits to refute. In the next several hundred words, I plan to provide the reader with an alternative opinion on if an individual would obtain more overall happiness by being lied to or being told the truth.
            Adarsh and I are both in the Bellaire band, and this is the first year since at the latest the 1960s when we have received a UIL rating of 1, the highest possible rating, for concert performance. To get us to that point, our director in his sophomore year with the band refused to let us accept any effort less than perfect. We were never told that’s good enough. We were told good job at rehearsal today, but look over your parts and play them even better next time. In the end, he withheld the instant gratification of telling his students that the last run through was absolutely perfect in order to build up to a later, more sophisticated satisfaction of having three judges all agree that we sounded like paid professional musicians. I personally don’t care what judges think because I’m not a lemming; I’m just thankful that I have instructors that can push me and others past their previously conceived notions of how good we can be. According to Adarsh’s views, it would be better to be constantly lied to by our director than being forced to work hard for delayed happiness.

            John Stuart Mill agrees with me on this point. He states in Ch. 2 of his work Utilitarianism that, “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.” I propose that there are more sophisticated, more beneficial in the long run types of happiness out there than the kinds complacency can provide. I will not sleep in tomorrow because I will be happier in the long run by going to school. I would rather have my significant other tell me about the one time she cheated on me because, if I found out from another source at another time, I would never trust her the same way again. I would rather know I was in a hopeless situation than in a faux-hopeful one because I don’t want my dying thoughts to believe that I wasn’t rescued when I could have been.
            There are certainly people who would rather be satisfied in the short run than long run, and I’m not going to declare that everyone must see the world like I do. We need people like, as my Macroeconomics teacher calls him, “Joe Six-pack,” the kind of people who work a 9-to-5 job, come home, eat dinner with the wife, drink a six-pack, watch a game on TV, and go to sleep. No society would work if everyone stopped in their tracks and realized that they weren’t being fulfilled, at least not if we all did that at once. I am, however, working on a plan for society where the only people filling the roles of Joe and Jane Six-pack are the artists who want jobs that can easily be picked up or left depending on if they’re able to make a living off of being an artist, but that is definitely a discussion better suited for another time.


-Jason Rossiter

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5 comments:

  1. Why choose between being happy in the short run or long run when both are possible at the same time?

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  2. It's certainly possible to be happy in the short and long run, but not content in the short run. I could be sleeping in right now, but instead I'm getting ready to go to school for more AP testing. Am I content right now? Of course not! I'm absolutely exhausted and sick of the 4 white walls I'm spending my days in, but I'm happy because I'm pushing myself as far as my mind and body will let me. And I'll be happy in the long run for doing so because it will aid in my college career.

    -Jason Rossiter

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  3. Being happy in your present recognition that you can and desire to be something greater is a state I would call contentedness in life and its constant evolution. So, perhaps a well adjusted and calm person can be content even when faced with his own mistakes and not have a bad day because of them, for he knows he must first be a moron before his genius and fullness of character can bloom. Realizing change is necessary brings elation in itself. And now I don't know why I'm typing this to YOU, Jason, as it seems we're on the same page unless I'm missing some main point of yours. Make Adarsh read this :D

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  4. Indigo: Dumb Jason never showed me your comment. I think the thing I can never wrap my head around is that you guys aren't made happy by the act of reaching a goal, you're made happy by the act of bettering yourself for its own sake. That's really interesting to me, but I don't work that I way. I am very goal-oriented when it comes to change, and that never makes me happy.
    I remember Jason and I once defining happiness in terms of Physics, and I'm starting to think that happiness might be like Newton's First Law of Motion: it's all about inertia. People want to either stay where they are, completely content with life as it is, or want to keep moving forward, completely content with life always getting better. The moment one stops being either one, when one changes from one to the other, though... That's when you stop being happy. When you're happy with life getting better but it stops getting better, or when you're happy with life as is but it changes. That's an interesting thought to me. - Adarsh

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  5. A... not really a flaw... lack of detail in the describing happiness in terms of Physics is that it doesn't explain the WHY for how happiness is achieved.

    I believe everyone would find joy in becoming better for the sake of getting better if they tried it for as long as I have (18 years and counting!), but Adarsh may think differently.

    -Jason Rossiter

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