What’s the Pursuit of Happiness All About?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Jefferson What does "the pursuit of happiness" mean? That bugged me as a kid. After all, happiness was playing in the sprinkler on a summer day, eating an ice cream cone or hitting a baseball. Do you start a revolution over that stuff?

Later I was taught that Jefferson used the phrase as a substitute for "property," which would have unsettled those who opposed slavery.

However, "pursuit of happiness" has an important meaning that goes well beyond a substitute for property. This holiday weekend some of us will watch fireworks; some will go to church; some will golf. We have a variety of pursuits, dreams and goals in our lives. The Declaration of Indendence says that we get to choose our own pursuits, dreams and goals. Our career is not decided for us by a technocrat who compares our capabilities against society's needs. Our avocations are not dictated by the city council.

We sometimes hear that we need to all pull in the same direction, work toward a common goal. Our founders thought otherwise. One of the great things about this country is that each of us chooses goals. You spend time helping your church, I like to sail, my buddy works all the time.

Some of us will work enough to be rich. Others will work enough to be comfortable. Still others will work the bare minimum to sustain life. Hippies have as much right to leisure as the rich have to luxury.

Let's celebrate our diversity of goals today. My goal is to enjoy a cold beer.