The Happiness Razor
Over the last few decades of my life, I’ve found it increasingly easy to decide what’s right and wrong when it comes to questions of politics and ethics. There’s a good chance it’s a result of the perspective one might gain when growing older. Or it could be a result of growing up in Scandavia with its two seasons: winter and July.
What I’ve realized is that if you hold up any tough moral decision to a, for lack of a better term, “happiness razor”, the right decision usually presents itself rather quickly. The idea is pretty simple: the end goal of all things should be to ensure that everyone can be happy. Today, and tomorrow.
A while back I wrote about how life is not a vacuum, a simulation built just for you. There are many lives, and just how you can be sad or happy, so can others. Just how you deserve good things and happiness, so do others. Yes that includes the one dude in your town who insists on rollerblading naked through town one day every fall — true story. It also happens to include those you don’t agree with, like that weird uncle on Facebook (you know who I’m talking about). It includes those you don’t like. It includes those you have never met.
If a child cries in a forest, and noone is there to comfort her, does she still make a sound?
That was a hard sentence to write, because the crushing truth is that it’s probably not just a philosophical thought experiment. “Other people” exist, and they have the same intrinsic value as you do. They’re not avatars in a video game, background dancers for your stage of life. Accepting this is not easy: suddenly the Nightly News of refugees and war get an even more sinister perspective. This might be you, if not for whatever random chance that put you out of harms way.
The happiness razor is like a mirror version of Wheaton’s Law. All it asks of you is realizing that others have a desire for happiness just like you do.
Don’t stand in their way.
Don’t deny a couple in love to marry. Don’t tell a girl what she can’t do or be. Don’t deny food, shelter, healthcare. Don’t ask families to stay in a war-torn country to die. For fucks sake people it’s not that hard: don’t deny people the pursuit of happiness! They deserve it exactly as much as you do.
Life can be hard enough as it is, don’t deny others a modicum of respite, it’s not a good look for you. So bring a happiness razor with you to your next voting booth.