TIME FOR A MIN­IS­TER OF HAP­PI­NESS?

New Straits Times - - Letters -

THERE is a pop­u­lar Tamil song that goes San­thosham san­thosham valkaiyin pathi balam; San­dosham il­laiyen­dral manitharku yethu balam; Ul­lam yen­bathu kaval­lai­gal ni­ra­pum kup­paithoti il­lai.

San­thosham means hap­pi­ness. The song tells that hap­pi­ness makes up 50 per cent of “courage” and “will­ing­ness” in a per­son. With­out hap­pi­ness, peo­ple will not have strength or courage. Courage can also mean con­fi­dence.

Ul­lam means “the in­side” — mind, heart, thought, in­ten­tion, soul or con­science. The in­side is not a garbage bin to be filled with un­hap­pi­ness.

Build a happy na­tion, Tan Sri Ra­mon Navarat­nam wrote. He says hap­pi­ness is what we all seek in life, so why not give it pri­or­ity by for­mu­lat­ing poli­cies and prac­tices to im­prove well­be­ing and qual­ity of life? (“Build a Happy Na­tion” — NST, March 27).

Hap­pi­ness is to be pur­sued be­cause it en­sures free­dom, equal­ity and wor­thi­ness. Ev­ery­one has a right to live a happy life. There is a lot of dif­fer­ence when a per­son dis­plays hap­pi­ness.

Hav­ing to live in a na­tion where the un­hap­pi­ness in­dex is high can be trau­matic. This will im­pair the senses and the peo­ple’s abil­ity to see re­al­ity.

Hap­pi­ness helps to re­ju­ve­nate and en­er­gise the mind and body to pro­mote un­der­stand­ing, while un­hap­pi­ness leads to an at­ti­tude of in­dif­fer­ence, an end which could be more dan­ger­ous than anger and ha­tred. Un­hap­pi­ness makes it easy to be­come in­ter­per­son­ally ex­ploita­tive. It de­hu­man­ises, causes con­fu­sion and cre­ates so­cial prob­lems.

Ra­mon also asked, “What is the point of pur­su­ing eco­nomic growth per se if the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are not happy?”

Most peo­ple can be happy if pro­duc­tive eco­nomics is pur­sued, which is fair to all rather than a prod­ucts-based con­sumerism eco­nomics that em­pha­sises rent seek­ing and hikes up the cost of liv­ing.

Peo­ple will also be happy if a na­tion or a com­pany does not lose bil­lions in cap­i­tal de­ple­tion or where war dis­rupts lo­cal, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional trade.

Do we need a min­is­ter of hap­pi­ness? If we look at his­tory, na­tions and em­pires were cre­ated by sol­diers.

Wil­liam Shake­speare, in his poem, All the World’s a Stage, says “all men and women are merely play­ers; they have their ex­its and en­trances”. This refers to the ded­i­ca­tion to a job. In the poem, he de­scribes the job of a soldier: Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jeal­ous in hon­our, sud­den and quick in quar­rel.

From this, we can un­der­stand why there is jeal­ousy and quar­rel. It has been cre­ated on the job. We need a min­is­ter of hap­pi­ness to change this, more so, at this time when it takes po­lit­i­cal will to bring about pro­duc­tive eco­nomics.

MENA JEYARAM Subang Jaya, Se­lan­gor

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