Human Rights in the Recreation of Happiness
I Do we dare to say that there is a human right to happiness? Mixing the logic of happiness with the logic of rights does not seem easy, and it often happens that when someone ventures to do so, he is perceived as unrealistic and poorly aware of how the world of rights works, since existence or recognition of these implies that we can claim them in one way or another. Do we dare to claim our right to be happy? The Association of Friends of Epicurus in Greece has taken the step and has gone to high European bodies demanding a Declaration on the Right to Happiness in the European Union. It is not known, to date, whether the European Commission plans to include such a high proposal in its legislative action plan for the next few years, but it is easy to imagine that Brussels executives will seem at least too abstract a matter in which Not worth wasting time.
However, it would not be the first time that the right to happiness is declared. The Virginia Declaration of Rights (USA, 1776) was a pioneer in including the right to the pursuit of happiness as a constitutional right. Closer to our days, in 2017, India approved an amendment to the Constitution including the right to happiness as the ultimate goal of public policies, which should be aimed at promoting other rights to ensure the pursuit of happiness on the part of the citizen. A more remote but not less interesting case is that of Bhutan, a Buddhist country in the Himalayan mountain range that has created an alternative formula for measuring prosperity: the IBF (Gross Domestic Happiness), an indicator that measures the quality of Life using holistic, psychological, sociological and environmental terms that are intended to determine the level of happiness of its inhabitants, considered as the ultimate goal of this small country.
“It sounds very nice,” we can say as much from irony as from the heart. Personally, I would like to support you from the heart. But can we join this claim to the right to happiness without first reflecting on its implications – and limitations – theoretical and practical? A critical analysis is needed about the things we want to believe and support so as not to fall into the void of supporting slogans and symbols without being able to offer arguments that support what many will criticize as “nice words” with little or no real applicability.
Does happiness fit into the world of rights?
We must admit, first, that happiness is subjective and depends on many factors of various kinds. It is difficult to think that we can guarantee the happiness of the people through a legal framework that declares the right to happiness. We have to start from the fact that the world of rights is limited, and what is declared is not at all what happens in reality. The recognition of a right does not imply its immediate realization. For example, we all have the right to life, but there are still murders that the State has the obligation to prevent ex ante, and to investigate ex post. We may claim our right to be protected by the State in this regard, and we may demand political and judicial action for the State that fulfills its part. This is called justifiability and enforceability of rights, concepts clearly difficult to combine with a hypothetical right to happiness. It is difficult to imagine how the state can guarantee the personal happiness of its citizens, when we are aware that happiness can depend largely on factors that we consider a priori personal (love, friendship, personal relationships, fortuitous circumstances, etc.). ). If we declare a right to happiness by putting it at the level of other rights already recognized, we could run the risk of diluting the concept of “right”, emptying it of its most essential content, which is precisely the right to “demand” our rights, Whether by going to court (justifiability) or protesting at a demonstration (political enforceability).
We begin, then, that the world of rights is limited, and we admit that happiness is a concept too broad and open to frame it in the logic of the legal world. I, however, continue to intuit that beyond theoretical and practical incompatibilities, we cannot rule out that happiness and human rights go hand in hand. I think there is something that leads us to think that human rights are somehow needed to lead a decent life that can at least facilitate our search for happiness. And that happiness has two aspects: the individual and the collective.
I will then reflect on how human rights can influence our individual happiness and our collective happiness. Or put another way, to what extent does our individual and collective happiness depend on having our human rights secured both individually and socially?
In the human, the relationship is more difficult to establish because subjectivity is greater, and private factors that escape the public reach of the state, such as love, the personality of each people, or the mental propensity to optimism or depression, decisively shape the feeling of happiness or unhappiness of a person. Thus, even if the rights are guaranteed, guaranteed and protected, with all the needs covered, a person is unhappy for reasons “x”. However, we can also intuit that a person can hardly be happy if he fears for his right to life, his physical integrity, or that of his relatives. These are “physical rights” that form the basic core indispensable for a person to live with a sufficient tranquility without which happiness is difficult to imagine, since feelings a priori incompatible with it (fear, anguish, fear, worry) would be Blocking However, we must question the assumption that one cannot be happy in difficult circumstances. Can one experience happiness in a situation of war, in which the most basic rights remain in the air? I do not think we have the theoretical capacity to respond to this. Probably it can be, since people happiness is also formed by moments, instants, details that can arise even in the worst of scenarios.
However, admitting this possibility does not mean minimizing the positive impact that human rights can have on the ability to feel in a state of happiness. Rights, if they are respected and implemented, have an impact on people’s lives, and therefore
Imagine Art of Happiness
A culture that encourages such projects to ensure the “happiness” or partial “comfort” of certain sectors will never reach a collective happiness, because it will be based on the division and the social divide, which in turn generate fear and tension, and Which determine, depending on which side of the wall we find ourselves, the conditions available for our personal and human development. The case of private neighborhoods is an extreme (although real) example of social division that prevents collective happiness, but the walls and isolating lines are also palpable in our European societies. So long as socio-economic rights continue to be considered as “second generation” or “less demanding” rights, the happiness we are talking about here will remain more partial than collective, exclusive rather than inclusive.
On the other hand, the role of political rights in collective happiness is, once again, more complicated to establish. Miguel Yagües, in his article El Otium and the search for public happiness published in EcoPolítica, argues that through political participation, private and public happiness is increased. However, here we reflect rather on the “indispensability” of rights for the attainment of collective happiness. Let us ask ourselves this: in the middle Ages, with absolute absence of political rights as we understand them today, were they collectively happy? I think we can imagine situations of happiness and joy, for example, a popular banquet in which people danced and enjoyed collectively. But such happiness or joy would be ephemeral and fragile, for they were at all times exposed to the possibility of abuse of power by the feudal lord on which they depended. Not having the political rights through which they could defend themselves, their jobs, their homes, their physical integrity and their lives, were at the whim of the arbitrariness of the feudal lord. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to imagine a state of social and collective happiness. While it is difficult to say that the right to meet or vote ensures a happier society – in fact many would say that these rights give more headache than another thing, they are, at least, fundamental tools to defend against abuse of Power and for society to take charge of everything that affects our collective life.
Therefore, it could be said that while these rights do not have to generate collective happiness in themselves, they are antidotes against what could lead to social unhappiness (a repressive government, an oppressive state that restricts freedoms), as well as Tools of defense of what we consider necessary to ensure a minimum basis of collective happiness.
Let us answer the first question: do we dare to say that there is a human right to happiness? Personally I do not think we can speak of a right as such, for the reasons mentioned when talking about the impossibility of demanding politics or judicially the “right to be happy.” But I do believe that we can legitimately claim our human rights as a necessary condition to seek our happiness. While this claim would be loaded with more symbolism than practical consequences, I believe that it is important, now more than ever, to bring to the political agenda the need to think about the happiness of people and the community as the ultimate goal of political decisions. In a political context in which austerity measures are being taken on the basis of economic indicators, it would not be better to propose more human face variables that measure how individual and collective life will affect people, taking into account the capacity of the public policies to generate conditions in which happiness can take place. if you want to travel to Bhutan.
Such happiness, in contrast to that offered by the imaginary of the capitalist system, must be sustainable and equitable, respectful of the limits of the planet and promoting a redistributive justice. Human rights are a fundamental element in the construction of this idea of happiness, in which everyone can count on the tools and the minimum conditions, just and equitable to be able to forge their own unique pursuit of happiness.