Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Miley Cyrus, Life Coach

            I have oft said that Disney Channel is the best education tool to ever be invented and everything I’ve ever needed to know I’ve learned from children’s TV shows, but I’m also a liar. This is the only occasion where I will admit that I have found a jewel amid the slew of petty gossip which is meant to imply that slander is appropriate and the obtrusive product placement rampant in today's family programming. I am now going to argue against Adarsh’s statement that happiness is based on others' perception of you and that it is nonexistent with the lyrics of “The Climb.” Don't worry; I won't tell anyone that you're secretly giddy.
            Happiness is attained through the progress toward a goal, but reaching the goal has nothing to do with happiness. And it is completely independent of other people. It is, in fact, the climb that provides emotional benefit because, once you’ve reached the peak, you have to hunt for another mountain even taller. I want to support my view of happiness before completely destroying Adarsh’s, so stick with me. The seemingly fitting analogy Adarsh used was that of someone breaking down on the way to The Big Apple from Houston, and I’ll admit that climbing is very similar. A fatal flaw in both of them is the fact that they deal with location and not the rate at which progress is being made. Do any of my contemporaries see what’s coming next? That’s right, Calculus.
            The slope of a line is how quickly the y-value of a location changes with respect to the x-value. I propose that happiness should be tied to how “steep” the slope is and not to what the y-value actually is. Example: One day before April Fools’, Bellaire Percussion Ensemble got stone-cold  last place in TCGC Championships, but we all played a better show than the week before. I couldn’t care less about ranking, but I care about progress. And there was progress. We didn’t achieve the value some people wanted in order to be happy, but the rate at which we approached the value is what I am proud of and happy for.
            Now for the attack; happiness being tied to others' perception of you forces you to accept moral relativism. For instance, if two of your friends have a spat and ask you to take one of their sides, you would be required to lie to one of them in order to keep both of them thinking you’re “good” and therefore making you “happy.” The German philosopher Immanuel Kant said that if you can’t universalize a maxim, it’s immoral. If you wouldn’t want everyone in the world to lie as long as it made them feel as if they were wanted, it would be immoral to make both parties think highly of you. And I don’t see how knowingly committing immoral acts can make one happy, at least not in the long run.
            If we go by Adarsh’s opinion, I have indeed beat the system due to my religious views, but I still can’t see how, even without religion, one would base their happiness on other’s perception or on reaching goals. We are human, and humans regularly don’t reach their goals. But we can try. We also have our own wants and needs, so I don’t see how suppressing those in order to please others would make one happier. The only thing that matters is the trip you’re taking (back to the poorly connected metaphor) and not whether you reach where you’re going or avoiding weird looks in the hallway because you’re jamming out to Miley Cyrus.

-Jason Rossiter

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