Some weeks ago I advocated the development and use of a happiness pill. Priority was to be given to our children and then progressively to all citizens in constant contact with them: parents, other relatives and teachers and so on. I do not think David Cameron was among my readers because if he had he would not have committed himself to a happiness index.
Philosphically, an index is a difficult and complex concept which seeks to codify incompatibles. It advances a simple proposition, first given us by Aristotle, that ‘happiness is the sole aim of life which consumes all others’. Well, yes BUT no. Consider the sadist. His joy and contentment is gained by acts of painful cruelty against others. And the masochist, who is entirely miserable unless the subject of pain and ignominy. Is public policy to embrace both their needs? The miser wishes to hide and store his valuable resources while the adventurous entreneur is stifled by lack of capital. The bully needs victims, the abuser the vulnerable, and the paedophile hunts the innocent. Are they all to be led onto the purple pathway to joy?
Consider the Puritan. What is the purpose of life? To do my duty, love God and my neighbour? Well, yes, but does that cover the arduous tasks of caring for those suffering from dementia or mental illness? Can performing the tasks involved for a 7 day, 24 hour, service to the afflicted bring human happiness to you?
My proposal for the national adoption of a happiness pill solves these problems. Everyone who takes a pink tablet will be happy. The sadist will not need his victims; the pressure of homework will be eased by jokes and pleasantries; while the male abuser does not need the alchohol his batteries are fueled on and takes joy in sharing the housework and doing the washing up. It is a universal remedy to a universal problem: unhappiness. No one on a pill a day will ever be unhappy.
Those housewives suffering from memory loss as a result of daily dosages of valium need have no fear. The happiness pill will not be toxic or addictive, and there will be no side effects. There will be many important benefits: days lost from work caused by depressive illnesses and boredom will be minimised. Even the most demanding and tedious of work tasks will be performed by happy and grateful workers. Output will rise and taxes fall. We shall have more leisure time and children will skip happily to school with completed homework in their satchells. Are you feeling happier now?
I can sense that our Dave remains hesitant. Dave, isn’t it true that on some days you are not happy at all and on other days you start happy and become miserable. If happiness is so important to you forget the nonsense of the index and take one pink tablet at breakfast with a glass of water every day. We shall be with you, Dave. And as we all know, because you have told us, we are all in this together. Cheers, down the hatch!