“The Happiness of the People”

Charles Murray gave the Irving Kristol lecture several weeks ago at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner.
"To become a source of deep satisfaction, a human activity has to meet some stringent requirements. It has to have been important (we don't get deep satisfaction from trivial things). You have to have put a lot of effort into it (hence the cliché "nothing worth having comes easily"). And you have to have been responsible for the consequences...There aren't many activities in life that can satisfy those three requirements. Having been a good parent. That qualifies. A good marriage. That qualifies. Having been a good neighbor and good friend to those whose lives intersected with yours. That qualifies. And having been really good at something--good at something that drew the most from your abilities. That qualifies...Let me put it formally: If we ask what are the institutions through which human beings achieve deep satisfactions in life, the answer is that there are just four: family, community, vocation, and faith…It is not necessary for any individual to make use of all four institutions, nor do I array them in a hierarchy. I merely assert that these four are all there are...The stuff of life--the elemental events surrounding birth, death, raising children, fulfilling one's personal potential, dealing with adversity, intimate relationships--coping with life as it exists around us in all its richness--occurs within those four institutions...Seen in this light, the goal of social policy is to ensure that those institutions are robust and vital. And that's what's wrong with the European model. It doesn't do that. It enfeebles every single one of them."
Greg Forster has posted an excellence response/critique. Which resonates more?

1 comment:

Zach said...

Great post, and a great followup question.

When I have a chance I will read both and post a more detailed response.

I like Murray's contentions, but I haven't read Forster's critique yet. I look forward to it.