Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
From the American Declaration of Independence
At first sight, we may consider that we can very much agree with them. For example, there are those of you sitting around these tables who come from countries where until recently life was continually under threat, either from dictators and tyrants, or simply from famine and cold. Life? Yes, this is something that a State should ensure for all its citizens.
There are those of you sitting around these tables who come from countries where until recently you could not give a political opinion or vote freely. The result of saying something the State disagreed with was imprisonment and even worse. Liberty? Yes, this is something that a State should ensure for all its citizens.
As regards, the pursuit of happiness, I have never met anyone who was against happiness, who actually wanted to be unhappy. Yes, this too is something that a State should ensure for all its citizens.
So, on the surface yes, we can agree with the aims of this Declaration of Independence. But let us pause and look at this a little more deeply, from an Orthodox Christian viewpoint.
Life? Who can be against it? And yet we all know that the only certain thing in our life is death. Although we speak of doctors who 'save lives', in fact what we mean is that they 'extend lives', for no-one can 'save' us from inevitable death, that is the parting of the soul from the body, that is the inevitable meeting with God. Only repentance and prayer to 'the Giver of Life', Christ our God, can in fact 'save' our life, and in an altogether different sense, thus make us heirs of 'Eternal Life'.
If we were to write a Christian Declaration of Independence, surely rather than 'Life', we would write 'Eternal Life'.
Liberty? Who can be against it? And yet what is Liberty? In the USA they have the liberty to own guns. The USA was founded on guns, the quicker-firing the better. The result today is that some 30,000 Americans die every year from those who use guns. And the American cinema largely glorifies the cult of violence. In the USA most also have the liberty to eat whatever they want and in whatever quantity they want. The result is that large numbers of Americans are now so obese that they are unlikely to reach the age of 60. And Europeans have no reason to look down on Americans, because they are now doing the same.
The question then is liberty to do what? Liberty to infect ourselves and others with AIDS? Liberty to take drugs and become insane? Liberty to commit suicide? Liberty to persecute others with the thought-police of puritanical political correctness? Liberty to torment ourselves by addictions to whatever our personal passions and weaknesses may be? The only true liberty for the Orthodox Christian is freedom from passion.
If we were to write a Christian Declaration of Independence, surely rather than 'Liberty', we would write 'Spiritual Liberty'.
The pursuit of Happiness? Who can be against it? And yet everyone at some time in their life is unhappy. Indeed, quite large numbers of people seem to be unhappy for quite long stretches of their lives, and there are even those who prefer suicide to 'the pursuit of Happiness'. For what is happiness? For many it involves making others unhappy, through exploitation of one sort or another, through making others suffer.
Theologically, suffering comes from the devil. The devil, not God, wants us to suffer, to be unhappy, like him. God wants no-one to be unhappy, though He may allow it for a time, according to our strength, so that we can learn to fight against it. And suffering, unhappiness, always comes about because we spend most of our lives not intent on finding real happiness, but intent only on the pursuit of short-term pleasures. The case of a man and a woman who have a child whom they do not want is the classic example: lifetimes of unhappiness for just a few seconds of short-term pleasure, so swiftly regretted. Moreover, theologically, we cannot 'pursue happiness'. Happiness comes to us by the Will of God, with which we can co-operate - or not. If you truly want to be happy, then seek to do God's Will.
If we were to write a Christian Declaration of Independence, surely rather than 'the pursuit of Happiness', we would write 'the pursuit of God's Will'.
The fact is that the humanists and freemasons who wrote the American Declaration of Independence were inspired by the same inspiration as those who slightly later in that same century of 'Enlightenment' brought about the 'Endarkenment' of the French Revolution, with their bloodthirsty cry of 'Equality, Liberty and Fraternity'. Their heirs later even sent a huge pagan idol, a 'Statue of Liberty', to naive Americans. And they bowed down before it, and in the name of goddess 'Liberty' all manner of crime has been committed, other countries invaded, their natural resources pillaged for the capitalist machine. And the beastly masonic mark of those naive people who wrote the American Declaration of Independence can still be seen on every single dollar bill.
Here, there is nothing for Western Europeans to be proud of and no reason for them to foolishly think themselves superior to Americans. Those who wrote the Declaration of Independence were virtually all Englishmen by origin, if not by birth. And those who founded the United States, like those who made and sent the Statue of Liberty, were nearly all from Western Europe. Naive Americans, like those fresh-faced GIs who saved Europe from itself in two European 'World' Wars, have too long been exploited by the schemings of the elites of Western Europe.
It must be admitted that had Orthodox Christians written their Declaration of Independence, not Independence from a tyrannical and insane German King, but Independence from all the powers of the prince of this world and his servants, then surely they would have written:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created by God, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Potentialities, that among these are Eternal Life, Spiritual Liberty and the pursuit of God's Will.
Furthermore, if our life were founded on these criteria, we would not be living as we now live. If economic life were based on Eternal Life, if political life were based on Spiritual Liberty and if social life were based on the pursuit of God's Will, then we would be living in a very different world from the one that seems now to be speeding to its suicide. And if Eternal Life, Spiritual Liberty and the pursuit of God's Will do not become collective goals to transfigure whole nations, then at the very least they can still become our personal goals to transfigure our personal lives.
After-Liturgy Talk of 28 November/11 December 2005