Will Smith has a great line in the movie “The Pursuit of Happiness”. He centers on the idea of how the founding fathers has enough wisdom to put in the word ‘pursuit’. This is what is often forgotten in this right. You do not have the right to be happy. You do have the right to pursue what will make you happy or what you think will make you happy. It does not include a safety net where the government bails you out if you fail.
I suppose it should be argued at this point that this right is equal to the other two already stated of life and liberty. The issue here is that some people will be champion of people’s life and liberty but then involve themselves in the affairs of others in such a way as to either meddle in the affairs of others or try to restrict other’s pursuit of happiness by law or ordinance. They think they know what would make others happy and try to use force or influence to make it so. To be honest the respect for this right in others is the biggest litmus test of whether you genuinely treat people as human beings or objects. The person who can see what would be better for someone else but does not act because he or she respects that person’s right to pursue their own happiness is a person who also is seeing them as a human being, not as something to manipulate.
I have been using the abortion debate throughout this discussion so I will use it again here. The conflict is simple I think because a woman might argue that having a child would not be in line with her pursuit of happiness. The counter argument then comes that you are violating the child or fetus’ right to live. If we are truly seeing the two rights as equals then we are pretty much left in a stalemate and so the issue falls to other things. In abortion we have a conflict of rights but the question is which right has superiority over others. If we give certain rights superiority over others then how cam we say we are treating them all equally? Some other factor, must come into play to settle this quandary and it may be Rabyd 1:6 which we will talk about in the next post.
For me personally this is why I try to conduct myself (and I hope my family conducts themselves with the idea as well) of not meddling in other people’s affairs. If we do feel we have a better way for people to live that might aid them in their pursuit of happiness, we do not force the issue but attempt to persuade people to that end. Our goal is not to meddle but we will certainly act in compassion if we see a need and react if asked to help. Part of respecting the pursuit of happiness is respecting the need for people to struggle through that issue on their own. To impose my view of what would make them happy on them would be an act of evil nature.