Sometime weeks ago, precisely on 20th March 2014 the World marked Happiness Day: a day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate humanity’s efforts at creating happiness and to explore the things that poison man’s happiness. In the course of the celebration, an elated and euphoric U.N Secretary-General, Ban Kimoon declared that happiness is human rights. Now, in this little piece, we shall add to the talk by looking at what happiness really is; and how happiness is inexorable linked to the enjoyment of human rights.
Happiness is an elusive butterfly, what it portends differs from place to place, but as all humans are flesh and blood, we can opine that happiness is a state of bliss and liberty, being free from common anxieties, diseases, wants, wars and oppression. And happiness is the motivator of all human actions; states were created to secure and insure the happiness of its citizenry. The ultimate measure of happiness in any society is got from examining the socio-economic politico – cultural setting and configuration of such society. Are social goods available to all classes? Is liberty a rare commodity? Is the state willing to create a conducive condition for the planting and germination of the seeds of happiness of its citizenry? Are human rights respected as a matter of happiness? These queries shall serve as the mirror in which to search the heart of happiness in any society.
It’s important to observe here that there’s an inseparable Siamese semblance between happiness and economic well being Happiness begins in the belly. What happiness will and impoverished and financially emasculated man know who can hardly fend for himself and family? What social esteem will a young graduate know who have to scale ‘barb-wire fences’ to apply for a job which is hardly available? What happiness will a widowed pensioner have waiting for heaven’s gate to get paid her pension? What happiness will citizens have in a country that extorts utility bills yet cannot provide steady supply or power? What tales of happiness can thrill citizens in a country blessed abundantly with petroleum resources yet its citizenry starve for oil – steal oil to survive? True happiness can only be cultured and celebrated when people everywhere are capable economically, depending on their abilities to meet and provide the necessities of life which foster inner joy, self-esteem, and satisfaction. Hunger and happiness are strange bed-fellows, especially in a world of abundance!
Furthermore, happiness as a right can only flourish in a world of liberty devoid of fear, terror, oppression, war and expressive restrictions. What blind happiness will a people have who have been cowed into silence by state-sponsored oppression and restrictions; slaughtered in thousands by religio-political zealots, and exposed to the ravages of endless wars? What ring of happiness will people adorn who have been turned into refugees in their own father land? Fear is one of the greatest enemies of happiness, for it stifles expression, creativity, and development. Happiness is a child of freedom – born out of security, without watching over ones’ back constantly in a free world.
States, the world over have a role to play in promoting the corporate and community happiness of its citizenry. Basically, states through governments should protect life and property of its citizenry. This will enhance a sense of safety and worth amongst the people and invariably trigger off the nerves of happiness in them. More so, in states where there’s life-beautification infrastructure, equal opportunities and people oriented policies – happiness is ineluctable. It’s ill to speak of happiness in states where human rights are violated with princely pomp. Human rights regimes are put in place to boost and preserve the self-worth of people all over the world. The respect for human rights stipulations is geared towards the self-actualization of humans who are the primary beneficiaries of the rights. Happiness is bound to flow in the hearts of humans when they feel dignified, protected, and celebrated. Happiness is inescapable when humans know that their plights affect governments. Happiness will definitely shine in a world where social justice, economic equity, free expression and equality reign supreme, without turning on grounds to race, class, political affiliations and religion.
Happiness is everyman’s birthright – go for it!
– Elvis-Wura Towolawi