Friday, June 28, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue II
Pursuit of Virtue
Cover: The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino

"Properly understood, therefore, when John Locke, Samuel Johnson, and Thomas Jefferson wrote of 'the pursuit of happiness,' they were invoking the Greek and Roman philosophical tradition in which happiness is bound up with the civic virtues of courage, moderation, and justice. Because they are civic virtues, not just personal attributes, they implicate the social aspect of eudaimonia. The pursuit of happiness, therefore, is not merely a matter of achieving individual pleasure." -- Carol V. Hamilton, Ph.d.

The 'other' weekly news magazine this week considers The Pursuit of Happiness [click to read]. Quoting the philosophers who say we're "wired for happiness," they then delve into the conundrum of why we are so unhappy. THYME once again ventures in where angels fear to tread... to consider the truth intended by the original writers.

Modern Americans err because they've replaced the institutions of virtue and protection with the multiplex cinema and the mall as center of the settlement. Consider the first Jamestown settlement, where the church, the storehouse and the armory were at the center. Personal happiness, in the packaging of self-actualization demands we redefine marriage and reduce consequences for pleasurable behaviours. Society must now provide outcome instead of opportunity, even if that outcome is tepid compared to the results of mankind unchained to pursue loftier goals that are out of the direct pervue of government.

Thus, many are lauding the Supreme Court's latest "Dred Scott"  [1.] moment as an American triumph, overturning a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and striking down the restoration of California's popularly ratified Proposition Eight. The portion of DOMA actually overturned has to do with an inheritance case and is NOT at all like Roe vs Wade, which nullified state abortion laws in a sweeping motion. The media rushes to herald it, but it does not really create what qualifies as a landmark decision. In fact it is but one more strike against traditional thinking which includes the government forcing Catholic Charities in Massachussetts to place children with same-sex couples (they folded rather than compromise their beliefs), the suit against a photographer who, on faith grounds, declined to photograph a same-sex ceremony and the Methodist group in New Jersey who were denied tax-exempt status because they would not allow a same-sex ceremony to be performed in their facility [2.]

Marriage Wins in the Big Picture [click to read]

In each of these cases, there were other options open to the couples and they were in no way forbidden from creating their covenant relationship. At issue, in each case, was the religious freedom of those who hold that G-d alone may define what is marriage. Beyond the religious freedom considerations, a strong body of research suggests that children are best raised by a father and a mother [3.] While the thought may nor be politically correct, the evidence is well-documented. State law is still able to support traditional marriage and may well strengthen the virtues epitomized in eudaimonia by doing so. Courage, moderation and justice would ask: "what is best for our children?"

The First Amendment of the Constitution both prohibits government establishment of a 'state' church and protects citizens in the free exercise of their faith. While it is a good thing to restrict the government's direction of the distribution of an estate (property being an important right), it also follows that the government has no business redefining what for many is a matter of faith (freedom of belief being one of the fundamental rights). Providing protection for a person's directives concerning shared property and hospital visitation priviledges is in keeping with the virtues of courage, moderation and justice. Creating a 'right' for someone to overwrite the tenets of faith with fines and sanctions is the antithesis of them.

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