Happiness and the economy in crisis – by Lionel Ketchian

Happiness and the economy in crisis – by Lionel Ketchian

We are experiencing disheartening times with our economy in crisis. We are seeing bailouts; jobs lost, stock market plunging, houses losing their values and a recession. As a nation, we are facing more debt and in all likelihood, more government. During these times of uncertainty, many of us have feelings of intense anger, fear, doubt, helplessness and confusion. John Adams stated, “As the happiness of the people is the sole end of government, so the consent of the people is the only foundation of it.”

What has created this negative situation we all face today? In order to find the solution to the problem, it is necessary to define the problem. The wrong solutions only create more problems. This is common sense, but it needs to be established. Robert F. Kennedy said, “The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use — of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.”

I have been president of LRK Communications, Inc for 29 years, and during that time I have learned one important thing about business, money and the management of people including myself. Responsibility is that one important thing. I believe that the problems we are facing today have been caused by irresponsibility. Power is a wonderful thing, but if not controlled it becomes unmanageable and turns on everyone. Stewart L. Udall said, “We have, I fear, confused power with greatness.” Allowing people to have power without accountability is like giving total freedom to a minor and expecting them to stay out of trouble. Edmund Burke stated, “The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.” This thought encompasses the problems we are facing today.

John F. Kennedy said, “Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities.” Money is necessary to create a better life. It is also necessary to have people learn to become responsible for their thoughts and actions. I have seen a growing lack of respect for the way people treat each other. We think that to get ahead, we have to hold the “me first,” view of life. We are starting to learn that money is not the only game. Like it or not, we must learn that we are all in this together. We must learn the lesson of “The Reality of Interdependence.” How we treat others affects all of us. The bad driver on the road is not only increasing your exposure to danger but also increasing your cost for auto insurance.

I have been learning about happiness for 18 years. More people are starting to learn about happiness now. The most important aspect of happiness is responsibility. I have one suggestion for our nation’s present condition. Let us begin by teaching happiness in schools, religious institutions, businesses and government. John Adams said, “All sober inquirers after truth, ancient and modern, pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue.”

Happiness teaches us responsibility because it teaches us virtue and goodness. Happiness is our right, but not at the expense of others. Berntrand Russell said, “The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy; I mean that if you are happy you will be good.” We all can benefit from learning about happiness for ourselves. To learn about happiness is to learn about interdependence so we understand and care about how our actions affect everyone.

You have a choice and your vote counts, but only if you use it. John F. Kennedy said, “The efforts of government alone will never be enough. In the end, the people must choose and the people must help themselves.” This is a statement of responsibility and shows us the power we have in the choices that each of us makes.

Here is another timely quote by John F. Kennedy, who said, “There can be no progress if people have no faith in tomorrow.” This is true and explains why we need more responsibility and accountability. “The Ethics of Happiness” will give us the confidence we need to believe in tomorrow. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The only orthodox object of the institution of government is to secure the greatest degree of happiness possible to the general mass of those associated under it.” Happiness and responsibility need to be learned from the difficult lessons we are facing now. The comprehension of happiness can give rise to the intelligent leadership that is needed in today’s world.

Mankind’s future is manifest in the values, ethics and goodness that are within his grasp to actualize and his ability to conceive. Baltasar Gracian said, “The sloe advantage of power is that you can do more good.” The time has come to do more good for our children. Happiness is one of the most important things in our lives. The sooner we comprehend the importance of happiness, learn about it and teach it, the more improved our lives will become. The real change we need is”The Prosperity of Happiness,” because it will be the change that really changes everything.

BE HAPPY ZONE by Lionel Ketchian. Published in the Fairfield Citizen-News on October 8, 2008