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to The American Heritage Dictionary, guilt is the "regretful
awareness of having done something wrong."
It seems strange, but many of us equate happiness with wrong
action. Our western cultural
heritage is so steeped in the ideas of original sin and suffering as
manís natural condition that happiness is often viewed as an appropriate
state of mind only for babies and people with subnormal IQís.
The best the rest of us weather-beaten poor slobs can hope to
achieve is some degree of acceptance of our horrible condition.
Even those of us who donít buy into the doom and gloom
perspective often wonder if itís okay to be happy when the world is such
a mess and so many people around the world, including our families and
friends, are struggling to make it.
we feel the familiar pangs of guilt over being happy, we should ask
ourselves a few questions:
1. How is my not being happy helping anyone on the planet? Does being unhappy energize me to help another person or does it make me feel complacent, lethargic and unable to help?
2. When will the world be okay enough for me to feel joy? When all the nuclear bombs are gone? When the water is clean? When the messiah arrives? What if none of these things happen in my lifetime?
3. If I believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is within and symbolizes a peaceful and happy state of mind, and not an actual place in the clouds, how am I ever going to experience it if I donít allow myself to enjoy being happy?
Are suffering and happiness mutually exclusive? Isnít it possible
to feel happy even when Iím suffering? If I win the lottery and
have a toothache at the same time, would I choose to not redeem my ticket
just because Iím in a little physical pain?
Happiness is our natural birthright. Every time any of us feels joy, we overcome pain and suffering and serve as a wayshower to the Kingdom of Heaven. Donít feel guilty about being happy. Itís just as possible that weíre the product of what Matthew Fox calls "original blessing" as it is that weíre doomed by original sin. Itís simply a matter of how you look at it.
SM & Copyright © 2002 K. Weissman & T. Coyne