Happiness, Meaning, and Personal Ethics
My Art Piece
My Happiness Essay
Happiness and the Universe
I sit outside and stare up at the sky. The cold stings my face and the darkness surrounds me, but in this moment, I am happy. The universe is spread out above me, the moon and all the twinkling stars making me realize just how small I am, and in turn how small my problems are. My telescope at my side and the stars shining above me. I am alone with the universe, and it is beautiful. This is where I am happy.
What is happiness? I believe happiness exists on a scale ranging from contentment to joy to the ultimate form of happiness: Eudaimonia. Eudaimonia has been defined as human flourishing, a state of ultimate well being. Both Plato and Aristotle defined eudaimonia as exhibiting virtue, the good composed of all goods, and perfection in respect of virtue. Happiness isn’t even a strong enough word to describe the ultimate fulfillment provided by eudaimonia. I have not experienced eudaimonia, but on the grand scale of emotions that make up happiness I have experienced just about everything else from contentment to pure joy. By the end of my life however, I can only hope that I reach this ultimate fulfillment known as Eudaimonia.
Happiness comes from within ourselves, and we have the capability to choose to be happy. My favorite quote that summarizes this idea is by Groucho Marx “Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.” I embrace this idea. The knowledge that I have the ability to choose happiness is a comforting thought. I can choose to put myself in an environment that makes me happy, or do the things that make me happy. Daily events shouldn’t be the sole decider of your emotions. Happiness can be summoned from within ourselves, and we can choose to be happy.
When I look up at the stars, I remember that we are simply a blue dot in the middle of infinity. It is a humbling thought. In comparison to the vastness of space and time, my troubles and sorrows are microscopic. We are all part of a bigger picture, and if we let sorrow overcome our lives, how can we ever hope to live our lives fully and find eudaimonia? I am going live my life choosing to be happy. When I am sad or angry, I am going to look up at the stars and remember the tiny dot that is our planet. Maybe one day I can find my eudaimonia too.
For this project, we had to choose to answer one of three questions: ‘What is the purpose of your existence?’, ‘what is happiness?’, or ‘what does it mean to live a meaningful life?’ I chose to write an essay about my personal philosophy on happiness. I was inspired by astronomy, one of my passions. Watching the stars is one of the things that makes me happiest. I was able to weave my thoughts about space and the universe into my perspective about happiness.
I developed several new insights about the human place and purpose in the universe throughout this project. I realized that happiness plays a big role in our lives, and if we can’t be happy, we can never fulfill our purpose on Earth. I was influenced a lot during this project by studying philosophy and ethics. The quote by Aristotle “happiness depends upon ourselves” was a big inspiration and influence for my project. Happiness does depend on us, we can live our lives choosing to be happy. It is a very comforting thought,one that I am going to live by for the rest of my life. Another inspiration I had was the concept of eudaimonia. Both Aristotle and Plato defined eudaimonia as ultimate human flourishing and the good composed of all goods. I can only hope to find my own eudaimonia one day. Overall, this project vastly influenced my views on happiness and meaning.
My philosophical wonderings have matured and completely shifted gears since this project began. I have began wondering more about the human place in the universe, and the search for happiness. I still have several questions that I have to answer for myself:
Rhetoric and Ideology
To the members of the Westboro Baptist Church,
Everyone knows about your hateful messages and bigotry. You are the epitome of discrimination and hostility. You crusade across America, telling people that God hates them for who they are. Don’t you find this at all hypocritical? You say that you are followers of God, but in 1 John 4:8, it is clearly stated “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” So how the hell can you call yourself Christians? The Christian doctrine is about forgiveness, love, peace, and goodness.You are unforgiving, hateful, discordant, and immoral. Christians are supposed to be Christ-like. Would Jesus hold up a sign preaching about hate? Your “God Hates Fags” campaign is one of the most hypocritical and disturbing hate messages that I have ever seen. You tell people that God hates them because of their sexuality, and that they will burn in hell because of who they love.
In October you protested at a high school in Missouri because the students elected a transgender student as homecoming queen. How is it your business to protest against a group of teens that have more compassion and understanding than you ever will? In Leviticus 19:18, it says “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” You seem to be ignoring parts of the bible, while over analyzing other parts. The anti-LGBT message that you promote does nothing but give Christianity and religion a bad name.
A frequently quoted bible verse that you use to justify your anti-LGBT stance is Leviticus 20:13. “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” But you forget about all the verses in the bible that tell you to love your neighbor, like 1 John 4:16 “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him”. If God is love then he hates no one, homosexual, bisexual, or transgender. If God is love, then he does not hate soldiers. If God is love, he does not hate America. YOU invented this hatred, not God. You have no compassion or empathy for anybody, convinced that hatred will earn you a first class ticket through those pearly gates in the sky. You fight against love, and as a member of the LGBT community, I will not stand for your bigotry.
Love is Love.
Rhetoric and Ideology Project Reflection
For this project, we studied ideology and the art of rhetoric. We examined several political debates and propaganda in order to watch and learn how rhetoric can be used to make an argument. We then had to choose a topic/current event that we are passionate about and create a rhetorical device to argue or explain our perspective. For my topic, I chose to write an open letter to the Westboro Baptist Church in response to their anti-gay protests.
My project incorporated rhetoric because I created my project to test the ideas and values of the Westboro Baptist Church.In order to achieve this, I used several passages full of irony and sarcasm in order to appeal to my audience as much as possible. I cited a specific protest that the WBC performed, and several bible verses in order to test the corrupt values of the church. These bible verses all specifically condone what the WBC is doing and stands for. I also quoted the verse most commonly used in anti-gay movements and found a way to dismiss it.
I connected to this project because LGBT rights is a topic that I am deeply passionate about. I find anti- LGBT to be very disturbing and bigoted. Really knowing what I wanted to talk about helped me connect with this project even more. Studying rhetoric helped me see it everywhere, from a political campaign ad to an advertisement in a newspaper. It also helped me form arguments and persuade people to see and understand my perspectives. This can be very useful for me in the future.
The most difficult thing about this project for me was refinement. I finished it really fast and didn’t go back and do edits until way later. This made it harder for me to find errors in grammar and flow. If I could go back and do something differently, it would be to refine sooner and to do a lot more of it. Going back and reading it, I found a few places that could have been smoother. This is something that I will definitely be doing next time.
Through this project I have learned a lot about rhetoric and ideology. I learned that rhetoric is all around us, and you can easily see it if you know what to look for. I also learned about different ideologies and how they can influence people's’ values and perspectives. This project also strengthened my own ideologies. I believe in equality for everyone, that everyone should be treated with respect and kindness, and that America is a place where people should feel safe being who they are. In the future, I think the skills I learned during this project will continue to strengthen my beliefs and maybe shape someone else's.