...and The Pursuit of Happiness
By Denys Picard
If a concept has been discussed and never really enlightened in the Constitutional papers, it is the all inspiring expression concealed in the Declaration of Independence : "...and The Pursuit of happiness".
The context of the expression is consolidated by the flamboyant spirit of the Declaration itself and augmented by the words that just precedes it : "...the unalienable rights of Life, Freedom and the Pursuit of Happiness".
What are unalienable rights? Frequently misunderstood in popular beliefs, unalienable rights are rights that precede the Organisation of Humans into spontaneous institutions of communities. These rights sit with ambivalence on an invisible frontier that precedes civilization but is not the primitive. It exists in a philosophical moment that could only have emerged with perplexity in the mind of civilized men.
As a newborn must wait a few years before experiencing his first existential crisis, the idea formulated as unalienable rights might have been something experienced as an intuition, but certainly not articulated at the dawn of organization.
But these rights are those that belonged to the idea of a civilized human before he engaged in a civilized structure. And in this sense, they cannot be diminished, truncated, amputated from each or any individual by the political. These rights precede the idea or the materialization of Government. This is the floor that is set for the civilized proposition against all future rights and liberties which could be diminished by the actualization of Government, the Rights and Liberties that are diminished but real against the Ideal of an Infinite degree of Freedom and Liberties that can only be an abstraction.
The first gestures of organization that brought us from Packs to Tribes and then to Communities imposed spontaneous forms of authorities in which not much pondering was given to human rights. Force, pure force, was the driving factor of organization, one imagines.
The Declaration of Independence authors concluding with Hope, by enumerating the core of the inalienable rights as pillars of the New World, sure had a solid sense of their meanings and values. But do we still understand them for what they are or were meant to be and protect?
What, in this context, could mean the Pursuit of Happiness. Happiness is not joy, Happiness may be a form of content, it could be accomplishment; is it absolute? is it relative? While the word carries large implications for commitment, could this word in fact mean something else in todays language.
I have not been a happy person for a very long time, could it be that my Pursuit of Happiness been impede? Yet, these terms did not help me figure out what...what pursuit? what happiness?
And then, suddenly, accidentally, a word surged in my mind that offered many answers. It was the word Status. What is our endeavour on this earth, if it is not first, as individuals, the consolidation of our status as persons. So I taught what if we replaced the word happiness with status, would this make sense?
Status is often used in a very limited way, as a pejorative qualifier, but status is a term that defines us as soon as we exit the womb, we engage in a fight, a fight to survive. We are obviously assisted in this in the early decades, but still we fight. And this fight, how could it be defined if it is not a Quest for Status. Status, not the limited understanding that is only expressed by the description upper echelon of material competition, but status as in what is our position of authority, of influence, of appreciation within our proximate environment. Isn't the child, even in his early relationships, measuring his position, and attempting to distinguish himself by gaining status in his perception of himself and in from the affirmation by others.
Have we not witness a young child playing effectively consolidate what he perceives as the "importance" of his place around us. Building status is a natural instinct of animals. It inhabits us. It precedes our organization into social human beings. We mediate a status with our environment and then we...compete, yes, we compete with our owns to gain what? To gain status. And status will dictate the authority our community will bestow in us. And this status will translate in a degree of happiness.
And therefore, is not the Pursuit of Happiness the Quest for Status?
And for the Quest for Status to be meaningful and productive, is not Competition an essential ingredients in which Status is affirmed at every moment. Every time we go to work in the morning, aren't we walking to a battlefield where by dusk we will measure our gains and lost, and intuitively conclude that it was a good or bad day at work...why? Because either I gained or lost status in the eyes of those that surround me at work, at home and even in the community.
Status is not the privilege of Giants, even if they may have more of it at a certain time, obviously. So let's forget the pejorative use of it, it is of no help here, and let's try to understand what makes Status, or what made it so important in the eyes of our Forefathers.
If the Pursuit of Happiness is a Quest for Status, what are the basic tools that must be made accessible for it to persist as a Unalienable Right.
Status building is constrained at the onset because it must be learned in part. The intuitive expression of it must be tempered, as can be observed easily among other mammals like Mountain Gorillas, Wolf Packs or Prides of Lions. The parents will mediate somehow the spurts of status consolidation of the young until he earns the age of independence. And the more these mammals are organized in structures, instead of lonely mammals such as foxes, the more the finess of status measurement by the community is nuanced. Posturing, looks, sounds all become signaling device that in many cases are built on existing status or to seek further status.
If status exists among mammals un-blessed of unalienable rights, then what may distinguish our status institution from that of animals.
Animals compete, and effectively, competition is indissociable from status consolidation or evaporation. So competition cannot be an exception. We know that children left to themselves will experience competition at different levels of intensity, but we don't want the child in his quest, taking a hammer and hitting the head of his brothers and sisters...not exactly the status building we are seeking.
Must we understand then that the choice of tools for competition must somewhat be constrained, or could it be a question of context? If we limit the tools of competition, aren't we limiting the potential beneficial outcome of competition.
Maybe this is where the other inalienable rights come in and create a circumferencial structure that consolidates the expression that then cannot be deconstructed, and to which each element if interdependent.
Status building in an organized human society creates a set of rules that modulate competition?
Life...an unalienable right, the right to life...what kind of life? This had to be somewhat defined.
Obviously, the right to life in the animal Kingdom is not unalienable. So how is Life defined in Human organization that distinguish our consideration of Life compared to that of the animal world. One must acknowledge that Prior to the American Constitution, life might not have, effectively, been protected by sanctity. Yet the word "quality" is not juxtaposed to Life, meaning it only means Life. But we have put evolutionary modulations on our understanding of Life. No one can interfere with the integrity of your physical life without permission or authorization of yourself and/or within the limits of the laws.
And Life becomes, then, also defined in part by Freedoms, for Life must be Free to be Life and allow for the Quest for Status. For example, Slavery was considered acceptable, and it took only some 100 years to reconcile, by amending our Constitution, our understanding of "Men being born equal" to repudiate a concept that emerged in the African Continent at least some 35,000 years ago. While some may be offended, it is a quick learning curve which was only made possible by challenging ourselves to the rigour of the Standards set forth in the Constitution itself.
But who sets, and how are, the rules for competition set forth, how do they evolve, are they fixed? Well this is a Pandora's box. Because while some rules of competition are set in the Constitution by the enumeration of Powers and the Amendments, others evolve with the laws and regulations as set forth by the US Congress and others lie in the States Legislatures and Constitutions and the Remainder with the People.
Is the quest for Status relative? One can quickly understand that if unalienable rights set a floor to the quest for status, then, in that area, status must be highly absolute. But as one consolidates his status, and as one tests new grounds of status...familial, communal, financial, political, professional, etc...then progressively status becomes relative. And while competition sets the gains and losses, affirmation of status, a prerequisite to competition, may take many forms of expression, including posturing of psychological traits such as Psychopathy, Narcissism and Machivallism. This is where Dominance and Status meet.
Everyone of us cannot be millionaire, and status is hierarchical in nature, it is unavoidable. Status is not money itself and not the single source of status, but money can be an acknowledgement of status and a good tool to gain more status. But the Pursuit of Happiness is rendered impossible in a State that does not respect basic unalienable rights.
Socialism cannot truly create Happiness, because the basic premise of Status requires true competition and Socialism denies the principal ingredient to hierarchical structures attained or accomplished from the result of the respect of unalienable rights. In socialism the State is Sovereign, and if so, the idea of unalianable rights is futile. The Citizen serves the Status of the State.
As for Monarchies, the Ultimate power being held arbitrarily by a Sovereign, no matter the extent of the tradition that has carried him or her in a position of absolute power, unalienable rights are absent, because true competition is absent.
And for Feminism, since it has at its core philosophy a conceptual organization inherited from Communautarism, it also can only fail in protecting those rights, because again, it fails at understanding competition, true competition.
As for the American Constitution, it should still allow for the Quest for Status, because it is still written with the Ink it was Written with when First Signed. But do we still respect this Constitution, this is the question that should be answered. As the Deep State takes progressive control of our Freedom and Liberties, have they not in effect kidnapped the very document that set the road for our experience of Happiness.
If a floor is set, and respected, by the rights that as enumerated in the Declaration of Independence that are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit for Happiness, than this floor must establish natural constraints on a certain ceiling to Status. This Status ceiling must not be dictated but will impose itself by the negative forces activated by the inefficient allocation of resources of futile affirmation of Status, absent of true competition, employed when true Opportunities become rare, when the State itself has tricked the genuine landscape of True Risk and Competition that must accompany our Citizens with the Highest State of Status.
Is not the Deep State robbing us of our Constitution when it plot to destroy true Competition in all spheres of our organization by self oriented goals, self-serving policies, and a true lost of appetite for the respect of the Genius in Ethical risk taking.
When the Deep State spits on the Constitution, it pulls the rug at the Floor set in the Constitutional papers, in the Declaration of Independence that states, but not grants, rights that precede any Organization of our Communities, that precede the Political, and guarantee us the right to the Quest for Status. In this context, no natural ceiling exist to the Babylonian Vanity of Men and Women; and then, the Sanctity of Life, Freedom and the Pursuit of Happiness can only be embodied in the Few.