In the name of Allah ,the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful



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The Way To Happiness
Based on:  "Happiness Between Illusion And Reality" By Dr. Nasser Al-Omar And "Causes Of Happiness" By Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sa'adi.
Preparing by:  Ghalib Ahmad Masri And Nathif Jama Adam.
Original language:  English.
Revised by:  Co-Operative Office For Call And Guidance In Al-Bat'ha.
Publishing date:  04/1420H.
ISBN:  9960-798-22-4.


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Definition of happiness

           


What Is Happiness?

            According to Webster's Third New International Dictionary, happiness is a state of well-being characterized by relative permanence, by dominantly agreeable emotion ranging in value from mere contentment to deep and intense joy in living, and by a natural desire for its continuation. "In the distinction between this term and its synonyms (i.e., felicity, beatitude, blessedness, bliss), it defines HAPPINESS as the general term denoting enjoyment of or pleasure able satisfaction in well-being, security, or fulfillment of wishes. FELICITY, a more bookish or elevated word, may denote a higher, more lasting, or more perfect happiness. BEATITUDE refers in this sense to the highest happiness, the felicity of the blessed. BLESSEDNESS suggests the deep joy of pure affection or of acceptance by God. BLISS may apply to a complete and assured felicity."

            Some students of education and psychology define HAPPINESS as the continued feeling or state of delight, contentment, and joy emanating from the permanent sense of self-goodness, goodness of life and goodness of man's destiny.


Sources of happiness

            Different individuals and groups of people may have different ideas with regard to the best ways of achieving happiness. However, there are several theories and speculations which many a people share as constituting the main sources of happiness. These may be classified as follows:

    (1) Wealth.
    (2) Rank and position.
    (3) Educational achievements (Academic and Honorary Degrees).
    (4) Fame (i.e., in politics, arts, sports, science, etc.).


Happiness in wealth

            Wealth is, probably, the element mostly associated, if not synonymous, with happiness as many people think. This understanding so deep-rooted in the hearts of so many, to the extent that almost everywhere people are engrossed in the acquisition of wealth. They look towards wealth as the primal constituent of happiness to the point that for them the two are entwined.

            How happy are those men and women who own business empires, wide expanses of land and estates, large bank deposits, etc?

            Many indeed are those people who own millions or even billions but are suffering from an almost permanent lack of peace of mind as a result of the fear they have over their wealth the fear of, say, political turmoil's, market movements, wars, plunders, theft, etc. And not only does such fear lead to sleepless nights for these people but even tensions, mental anguish, heart attacks and deaths. Very often one comes across reports in the media such as the following:

    * Fortunes lost and lives follow in financial market crash �..!
    * A Tokyo trader shot himself after apparently losing money in the stock market..!
    * Australia's richest man was rushed to hospital in serious condition, Sunday, after suffering a heart attack....!
            Understanding and accepting that happiness has nothing to do with amassment of wealth is perhaps the most liberating realization we can ever come to.

            Ample material is readily available from the lives of many people to prove our dictum "wealth is not equal to happiness".


Qaarun

            Qarun's (Kora) story serves as a typical example of opulent people whose wealth infused them with pride and arrogance and made them forget the role of wealth in mans life. Wealth should be used for the achievement of the welfare of man and his society in accordance with the will and commandments of Almighty Allah, Who has granted man his existence, faculties, powers, sustenance and resources.

            His story is told in the Holy Qur'an:� Such were the treasure We had bestowed on him, that their very keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. Behold, his people said to him: Exult not, for Allah loveth not those who exult (in riches).� (Qur'an, 28:76) Then,� So he went forth among his people in the (pride of his wordly) glitter.� (Qur'an, 28:79).

            When he was in the heyday of his glory, worldly people envied him and thought how happy they would be if only they were in his place.

            But wise people were not dazzled by Qaarun's fabulous wealth, because they realized the transient nature of worldly treasures and they were certain that the true wealth is the reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) for those who believe and work righteousness. (Vide the Qur'an, 28:80)

            Qaarun lived ostentatiously and appeared to many of his people � a lord of mighty good fortune.� They admired his glorious appearance but forgot his reality. All this was 'illusory happiness' or, at least, transient happiness, just like a dream or a movie.

            What was the end? What happened to all that pomp, wealth, pride and arrogance? � Then, We caused the earth to swallow up him and his house; and he had not (the least little) party to help him against Allah, nor could he defend himself.� (Qur'an 28:81).


Christina Onassis

            Here lies another eventful story which proved beyond doubt that wealth, whatever the amount one holds, cannot by itself be the basis for the achievement of real happiness! Here is the story which for years dominated the minds of writers, reporters and newsmen, as well as the pages of newspapers, books and magazines! This is the story of Christina Onassis daughter of the famous Greek tycoon, Aristotle Onassis who owned fleets of ships and aeroplanes, lakes and islands, real estates, huge bank deposits, etc. Following the death of her father, Christina was the only one left behind as the legal heiress to the vast resources of her father besides her late father's second wife Jacqueline Kennedy. The enormous liquid inheritances were to the tune of billions of dollars besides the immovable properties, the fleet of ships and aeroplanes, lakes and islands, real estates, large bank deposits, etc 'What an inheritance that was! Certainly, to the judgment, reasoning, feelings and standards of most people, someone inheriting such a huge fortune should be the happiest person on earth but was this true for Christina? The answer to this question can only be arrived at after going through the following pages which briefly explain the known course of her life.

            Christina got married to an American during her father's lifetime; but only a few months thereafter the marriage broke up and ended up in divorce. After the death of her father, she got married to a Greek for the second time but their marriage lasted only a few months, if not weeks, before it was all over!

            Christina stayed out of marriage for quite some time apparently looking for a happy life outside the marriage bond. However, that happiness did not materialize and, after a few years had elapsed, she felt like flying to find a life of happiness under the marriage bond once again. This time her choice for a husband was from a completely different camp from communist Russia! To many who knew her free style western life, this step, indeed, became an interesting, if not perturbing or excruciating experience. And when once asked by a pressman of this move, she had a ready answer which was simple, short, but frank: "I am searching for happiness".

            Of course, her two previous marriages were with men from the West; and since they both failed, she thought that she could "discover" some happiness in the East. But here too she was only trying out her luck with no guarantees. When pressmen interviewed her for a second time her unchanged reply was: "I am searching for happiness..!"

            But was she really happy about her marriage in Russia? Never! She hardly remained with the Russian for more than a year before she eventually divorced him!

            Apparently, that was not the end of the marriage "dilemma". Back in Europe she decided to give it one more final try this time with a French industrialist, the fourth husband from a fourth different country in hardly a period of two years! What a miserable and unsecured life it has been. It was during one of those occasions at a party relating to this last marriage that a pressman asked her whether she was the richest woman and her frank reply went as follows: Yes! I am the richest woman but the unhappiest....

            The marriage with the French industrialist went ahead as planned but it took only a few months to exist before it was all gone!

            Having failed to achieve happiness under marriage life, Christina vowed not to marry again and endeavored to achieve happiness "on her own". However, happiness was impossible for her even on her own and she spent the rest of her life in a desperate manner full of frustrations and disappointments and of frenzy travels between the world's major cities until, finally, she was found lying dead inside a hotel in Argentina. Who killed her? She committed suicide! What an unhappy ending for a very, very wealthy lady!

            Was her wealth able to buy her happiness?

            NEVER, INDEED!!!!!!!


Happiness In Rank And Position

            Could real happiness be attained through the acquirement of high rank or position in society? To many the answer is in the affirmative. This is apparently due to lack of deep insight in the nature of rank or position and the responsibilities which they involve. In Islam, holding any position, rank or office is first and foremost regarded as a trust and, therefore, constitutes an obligation, and a legal as well as moral responsibility. Therefore, those to be entrusted with such roles could only be citizens who are possessed of unquestionable competence, integrity and virtue. Only a righteous and competent person can shoulder responsibility and use his position or office for public welfare.

            Such a person would be able to dispense justice based on moral value and promote sound administration. He would promote and enhance the well-being of his people by handling their affairs in a manner that is in accordance with public interest. In return, he would earn his people's obedience, support, loyalty and cooperation. Thus, he would love doing his job because ultimately he would be blessed with joy, happiness, contentment and satisfaction.

            However, any person who is entrusted with authority over others and does not conduct his affairs on the basis of justice and moral standards, would definitely be responsible for maladministration. His position would only be a source of misery and corruption with issues such as the following:

    * Loss of public confidence.
    * Rift between the ruler and the ruled.
    * Tension fear and insecurity of life and position on the part of the ruler.
    * The ruler's internal restlessness arid agonies of conscience.
    * Upsurge of enemies and oppositions from amongst the ruled.
    * Ruler going to great lengths to protect his position at times at any cost, even if that may mean the shedding of blood.
    * Public revolt.
    * Coups d'etat.
    * Assassinations.
            Hardly does a year pass by around the world without closing with the news of miserable falls, overthrows and/or assassinations of unwanted rulers, kings, emperors, premiers, presidents, etc. Recent cases include the following subsections.


The Shah of Iran

            The Shah of Iran who once organized an international ceremony to commemorate the passing of 2500 years since the birth of the "Persian state"!

            But when the end came it was heavy. He was chased" out of his country by a massive public revolt and spent the rest of his life "wandering" from one country to another until he eventually died a miserable death in Egypt as a result of a chronic cancer.


Ferdinand Marcos

            The man who for 20 years literally "owned" the Philippines and ruled it as if it were a "family enterprise", came to a terrible end. He was "thrown" out of his country by the masses and spent several years thereafter in exile in various "hideouts" under tight security for fear of being murdered.


Jean Bedel Bokassa, the self-proclaimed "Emperor" of the Republic of Central Africa

            Here was a man who spent for his coronation more than his country's total gross national product. He was later toppled by his countrymen and at present he is serving a life-imprisonment sentence.


Nicolae Ceausescu

            The man dwelt in a palace built in "pure gold" for a period of more than 20 years as the "Owner" of Romania! To suppress a public revolt he used tanks and artillery so that by the end of the revolution 64,000 people were reported to have been killed in the cities. He was later caught while trying to escape out of his country and was "slaughtered" before the eyes of the public!


Rajiv Gandhi

            He was assassinated in public and closed the chapter of an unpopular dynasty. The list is in-exhaustive It is a wonder, however, how all evil men have much in common but the sure end of all evil is evil!


Educational Achievements (Academic And Honorary Degrees)

            Then, where is happiness? Is it in obtaining the highest level of education and in earning doctorate degrees?

            It is true that Islam not only encourages but also requires man to seek knowledge and live in the light of learning. Islam is a way of life based on knowledge and not on superstition. Prophets are the sources of divine knowledge, and the first divine revelation to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) begins with the word � IQRA� meaning "READ". In that same revelation, Allah, (Glory be to Him) tells mankind that He (Allah) taught man � with the pen� and taught man � what he did not know�.

            Much emphasis is placed in Islam on the need for excellent learning, that in the Holy Qur'an, Allah, Glory be to Him, teaches mankind the following supplications:� �.and say 0 my Lord, advance me in knowledge� (Qur'an, 22:114).

            In another verse of the holy Qur'an, Allah tells mankind:� �.. those truly fear Allah among His servants who have knowledge� (Qur'an, 35:28).

            Yet, in another verse of the Holy Qur'an, Allah questions mankind:� �.. are they equal, those who know and those who do not know?� (Qur'an, 39:9).

            Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also left behind many authentic sayings and teachings in this regard emphasizing the importance and superiority of knowledge. In one of these sayings, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that seeking knowledge is every Muslim's duty.

            Such is the concept of Islam with regard to learning that it leaves wide open all fields of thought before the human intellect to penetrate as far as it could reach. It frees, and lays down no restrictions against, the free-thinker who seeks knowledge to widen his vision and broaden his mind. However, such intellectual development is not and could not be pursued as an absolute objective in itself. It could not be independent but would remain throughout on the plane of faith with the moral values based on the true religion of Allah, that is Islam.

            It is only by doing so that a persons intellect gets a complete "nourishment" and his intellectual life becomes enriched so as to be constructive and useful. It is only by such integration of the intellectual and the spiritual values that the person's internal nature becomes sound, healthy and happy. However, if knowledge and scientific research are taken as an end in themselves at the cost of faith, moral and spiritual values, then even the most learned man would "unhappily" be regressed to "the lowest of the low" despite any qualifications, degrees, credentials and honors he may have possessed. While advancement in knowledge and science alone may work well when it comes to the treatment of matter, yet, it could not be taken as conclusive.

            Very frequently one comes across press reports such as the following: "A college PROFESSOR was jailed after he was accused of kidnapping a woman and holding her in a closet for two weeks for his pleasure the charge carries a 10 to 99 year prison sentence he admitted to the charge....".

            "A Standard University LECTURER fired for carrying drugs on campus, yet he said that he will fight his dismissal but would not change his ways. He added; 'that is my right as long as I do not hurt anybody else....".

            "A male top Washington LAWYER and his businessman lover filed a potential landmark lawsuit, trying to become the first homosexuals to get married legally in the United States....".

            "Stanford Medical School President has brought disciplinary charges of sexual harassment and professional misconduct against a male cardiology PROFESSOR. The charges are based on complaints of two female medical students there....".

            "Two DOCTORS were fined and given prison sentences yesterday for performing a sex-change operation on a patient He (the sex-change victim) filed a complaint in 1984 asserting that the operation had not been successful and that he was in constant pain. Four years later he committed suicide".

            A WOMAN DOCTOR cries out saying: "Take away my certificate and give me a husband. Let us read what that poor woman doctor writes in her own words: Every morning at 7:00 o'clock, I shed tears behind the chauffeur who droved me in my car to my medical clinic prison cell or 'grave'. She goes on saying: Every time I reached my destination, I found women and children waiting for me. They looked at me with admiration and regarded my white coat as if it were a luxurious kind of clothes made of Persian silk, yet it was to my view the mourner's clothes. And every time I reached my clinic, I fixed the stethoscope, as if it were a hangman's rope tied around my neck. Now, I am in my thirties and I am very pessimistic about the future. Then, she cries out! Take away my certificate, my coats and my money and let me hear the word MUM. Then she writes a few lines describing her inner feelings: People would call me a doctor, but what benefit do I get from hearing it? So, tell those people who considered me as a good example, that now I am to be pitied. All I want and hope for is to have my own child to hug and caress. But, can I buy it with all my Money?"

            Just look at what happens to the woman doctor. How she describes her everyday agony and how she thinks of her medical as a prison cell and a grave. In short, does she enjoy her profession? Does she get any level of satisfaction and contentment in life? The answer is left to the reader.


Happiness In Fame

            There are two activities with which fame is usually associated:

    * Sporting.
    * Acting.
            How much happiness do the "famous" men and women in activities enjoy? Let us take a brief look at each of these two activities in turn.


Sporting

            It is gratifying to note that most of the Islamic forms of worship, e.g. prayers, fasting and pilgrimage, display some sporting characteristics, although they are basically by nature meant for spiritual purposes. But who would deny the constant interaction between the physique and morale of man? Yet, that is not all that Islam has to say in the subject of sports and physical exercises. Islam encourages any sporting activity that promotes sound thinking or refreshes the mind and revitalizes the body to keep man in healthy shape. The general Islamic precept in this matter is the statement in which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) says:� The strong believer is better than the weak One�. (Reported by Imam Ahmad, Muslim and Ibn Majah on the authority of Abu Huraira).

            Physical exercises and sporting activities are valuable things in themselves, but they should only be taken for what they are worth,i.e., to prepare our minds and bodies for the more serious matters of life. They should not be taken as an end in themselves or be allowed to deflect away our minds or blur our visions to appreciate the more serious requirements of our inner lives.

            Sporting has almost become a sort of a "religion" for sportsmen, 'it runs in their blood'!

            Therefore, if sports are carried to such an extreme, one could not fail to realize the kind of "suffering" to which such men and women lead their lives. Thus:

    * The internal feelings and pressures to win over, say, a particular game and at times at any cost, even tat may mean taking prohibited drugs.
    * The "big blow" upon losing a game; the despair, the embarrassment, the agony, the shame and the ridicule from the "fans".
    * The loss of job, quitting from the team after losing a game or, worse, being fired!
            Therefore, we need to ask the question whether or not a life exposed to such physical danger, ordeal and shortcomings is a happy one? The answer is left to you, the reader....!

            The sports media is full of stories such as the following: Sports activities proved dangerous with basketball injuries alone accounting for more than 640,000 hospital visits last year, new U.S. safety figures show:

            "Three football playing veterans died of heart attacks during an international golden oldies....".

            "Liverpool's Mcmahon broke his leg in a tackle during the F.A. cup clash yesterday...".

            "Cuban running star, Ana Quirot, says she plans to quit from sports after the 1992 Barcelona Olympics because she wants to become a mother I've been running for 15 years and I want to be a mother now".

            "Canadian sprinter, Ben Johnson, was stripped of the Olympic 100meter title and world record in Seoul after testing positive for Steroid drugs....".

            "U.S. shot-putter, Jim Doehring, ranked third in the world, has been suspended for two years from the field after failing a drug test".

            There are other stories similar to these which we could reproduce here in support of our argument, but for the sake of time and space let us have a look at just one more case without which I could not have done justice to a subject discussing men, sports, fame and happiness. This was the story of Diego Maradona! For a time his name was everywhere; in all media and literally on all commercial products and advertisements.

            Football earned him "wealth' and "pride". His luxury cars were estimated to the tune of $1 million, including a Ferrari F40 worth $323,000, besides the Rolls Royce's and the BMW's.

            He was in all that and even more! But hardly did he complete 4 years in that "fame"," wealth" and "prominence" when the world had to read a much more different kind of story about him! He used cocaine for an Italian league match! What were the consequences? He was wanted in Italian courts for a related case of "cocaine possession". And a few weeks after returning to his native homeland of Argentina, he was arrested for another round of cocaine possession and for supplying the drug free to others and his treasure, including the luxury cars, were put to auction! What else? Blame, ridicule, shame, disappointment and resentment from people of all walks, but largely, from his "loyal fans and particularly so, those in Italy whose anger and dismay was loud enough. In one newspaper report, which according to a public opinion polls, Maradona was voted Italy's most hated man and similarly in another report, a banner headline went as follows: "Italians hate Maradona" claiming that he sets a bad example for the young people. Did Diego Maradona achieve any real happiness from his football 'profession"? The answer to this question could, of course, best be given by none other than himself and he did so. During his "career" days he frequently used to say, "Soccer is in my blood and I want kids there (Argentina) to get Soccer running in their blood". However, months after his debacle he had some different confessions to the world which went as follows: "I will not play soccer professionally again. It is an irrevocable decision...the Argentine national team is also a closed chapter for me. I want to quit because I am sick of the pressure and the discipline...I am not blaming soccer but everything that surrounds soccer and I am scared of having to face a situation of that kind....I am not hiding my problems with drugs....there is something deeper here than simply having taken cocaine... I find I don't ENJOY myself anymore...." He made mention of joy, but do these confessions portray him as having experienced joy? If so, then, that is the subject of our discussion in this treatise and that is what we are calling "illusory", "artificial" or "fake' joy as opposed to any "abiding", "real" and "lasting" happiness which could not be earned by "devotion" to soccer or otherwise. Rather, it is by the understanding of the purpose of life as prescribed by Allah for us to make it the ideal basis in pursuit of our objectives in this world which is the inculcation and development of internal nourishment that would embody and infuse together the spiritual, moral and other virtues required Of man. Allah (Glory be to Him) said:� Leave alone those who take their way of life to be mere play and amusement and are deceived by the life of this world. But proclaim (to them) this (truth): that every soul delivers itself to ruin by its own acts: it will find for itself no protector or intercessor except Allah� (Qur'an, 6:70).


Acting

            Here we specifically refer to those persons directly engaged in the field of entertainment namely, film and stage actors, singers, dancers, etc. Is the world of entertainment a source of true happiness?

            Far from the common man, it is surprising how many people still equate happiness with fun. The truth of the matter, however, is that fun and happiness have little or nothing in common. The correct and logical conclusion would be that fun is what we experience during an act, while happiness is what we experience after an act. It is a deeper, more enduring, more meaningful and more abiding emotion. Going to an amusement park or to a ball game, watching a movie or television are fun activities that "may" help someone to relax. One may temporarily forget his problems and even may laugh. But these are things which do not and could not definitely bring any real happiness to the person because their positive effects usually last only as long as the fun lasts.

            A much deeper analysis into the matter is achieved when we envisage and look into fun and entertainment around us. I could not help the thought that if these movie, TV, music and theatre "stars" had anything to demonstrate, it is that happiness has nothing to do with fun. It is a fact that these individuals have constant access to abundant wealth, glamorous parties, fancy cars, expensive homes and everything that "seems to spell happiness'. However, memoir after memoir with so much information is exposed about these "celebrities' unveiling the sorrow hidden beneath all their fun e.g., depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, children out of wedlock, broken marriages, troubled children, illicit relations, loneliness, mental anguish, ignominy, etc. Could there be a way to deny all these facts? ? Hardly does a day pass by without coming across some stories in the media such as the following: "Elizabeth Taylor, who was once considered to be one of the legends of film makers and film viewers, again at the age of 59 got married for the seventh time to Larry Fortensky, 39 years old, a construction worker. She said after the marriage ceremony I hope this is for life'. Like most celebrities, she is apparently still looking for happiness which her fame failed to provide for her during the peak of her career. But now she wants to evade her fame" which deprived her of true happiness. She added: 'I've done everything I can to give me up'....

            A pathologist who helped perform the autopsy on Elvis Presly says the king of rock n roll died of DRUGS and not heart disease....'it was a deadly mix of drugs that killed him...."

            "Twice-divorced Dyan Cannon says: 'I'll keep on trying marriage until I get it right'. The 54 year-old actress said in the March 10 issue of Parade magazine that her first divorce from the late, Cary Grant, was not amicable..."

            "Soul legend, James Brown, was granted parole, Wednesday, after being imprisoned for more than two years for assault and drug use...."

            "Screen siren, Kim Basinger, says she can be wild without drugs and alcohol. The 37 years old actress admits in the February issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in New York that she's done a lot of wild things, including drugs and plenty of partying. 'When I came to Los Angeles, I said I want to take every thing; I want to try it all'...(Basinger) said she would like to marry again.. She was married for eight years to make-up artist Ron Briton. They were divorced in 1989".

            "TV comedian, Jamie Lee Curtis, says she doesn't like the kind of personal demand placed on some women actresses in the acting career, Many of them have no children. I wouldn't want those kinds of demands placed on my life....".

            "Cheyenne Brando, the 20year old daughter of actor Marlon Brando arrived in Paris on Tuesday for mental treatment following two suicide attempts last year after the highly publicized killing of her father....".

            "Actor-singer, Larry Kert, died Wednesday night of AIDS....".

            "Pop singer, Billy Preston, was arrested at his Malibu home Sunday after a I6 year old boy complained that he bad been sexually assaulted by the singer...."

            The list is inexhaustible and that is the life rampant in the entertainment and fun industry. Do these cases, therefore, portray the lives of men and women enjoying any sort of real happiness? NEVER! INDEED.

            Yet, people continue to believe that the next, more glamorous party, more expensive car, more luxurious vacation, fancier home would do what all the other parties; cars, vacations and homes have not been able to do. The way people are inclined to believe that a fun-filled, pain-free and carefree life is equal to happiness actually diminishes their chances of ever attaining true happiness.

            While discussing fun and entertainment a subject matter which, we feel, must not go unmentioned is the product which these men and Women of stage and screen have for their "fans" and "Viewers" the substance, the quality, the values and the effects on popular culture and standards And in this regard, we have reproduced, here below, some excerpts from two thought provoking articles from some international U.S. Publications discussing different aspects of the problem.

            The writers of the reports were, of course, discussing the extent and seriousness of the matter with reference to and in the context of the U.S., but the problem is global and all over.


Two Articles (Excerpts)

            Article one by MICHAEL MEDVED:

            The value of self-discipline so essential to normal family life is portrayed only rarely in the popular culture. Nearly two-thirds of all American adults are married, but movies today focus overwhelmingly big on single people. And those few flints that do show a family most often depict a marriage that is radically dysfunctional (completely abnormal) with a husband accused of attempting to murder his wife (as in Reversal of Fortune) or a wife sleeping with her husband's female friend (as in Henry & June) or the married pair killing each other (as in The War of the Roses). When I complained about the destructive product of the entertainment industry, colleagues urged me to stop worrying; it's a simple matter to tune out. An incident last spring reminded me it was not so easy to do that. My family and I went on an outing to a public park on a mountain lake near Santa Barbara, California. Our daughters, ages one and three, went toddling off toward the ducks. The one year-old was saying, "Duckie! Duckie!" one of her first words and reaching out to the birds with her chubby arms. My wife and I looked on with satisfaction.

            But soon a group of teenagers carrying a 'boom box' arrived at the lake shore.

            Coming out of their shiny chrome machine was a rape song full of four-letter words describing rape and feces and oral volume. Our girls had never heard those particular words before.

            They were frightened by the noise and started to cry. I suppose we could have stayed and made a scene, but I don't carry assault weapons in my trunk. Instead we abandoned the beautiful scene to those brutish kids.

            The point is that you can't just tune out the popular culture today. The messages, the images, are everywhere. Is it a coincidence that the war on standards in art, music, television and film corresponds with increasingly destructive behavior on the part of the young people who are the most devoted consumers of these media? Is there no connection between the media's obsession with crime and violence and the fact that the number of kids under 19 who are arrested has increased by 120 percent since l963? Is there no connection between the sex-crazed popular culture and the fact that out-of-wedlock births have increased 350 percent since 1960?

            Ironically, media moguls downplay the significance of their work, insisting that sex and violence on screen do not encourage sex and violence in real life. But the same industry then turns around and asks advertisers to pay tens of thousands of dollars for 30 seconds of airtime in the hope that this fleeting exposure would directly alter the public's buying behavior.

            The war on standards in the popular culture would be the issue on the l990s. Expanded censorships are not the way to win it. However, attempts to move in that direction would only prove to be counter-productive boycotts of sponsors, direct protests, letter-writing campaigns and other forms of private-sector pressures are far more effective than new government regulations.

            While we are working to prevent the further pollution of our culture, we should do more than protest the bad. We should also remember to promote the good which is indubitably beneficial to us.

           



Article two by BOB GRENE:

            Millions of families sat down in their living rooms one evening last August to watch a live Madonna concert from France, telecasted on the cable network Home Box Office (HBO).

            Since Madonna is such a huge international star, and since the telecast was heavily promoted and aired in prime time on a weekend, millions of children certainty watched with their parents.

            What happened on all those screens was that Madonna repeatedly used the one obscene word that has been routinely barred from the public airways. Later in the show she writhed on a bed and simulated masturbation. She also laughingly used common street terms for male genitals.

            We live in an anything-goes-age, so that shows witless, and purposely vulgar content was not surprising. The language itself was nothing that has not been heard in movies or on cable TV comedy specials. The surprising thing was that so few parents called HBO to object. A spokesperson for the network said the complaints "were not by any stretch of the imagination overwhelming" and that the Madonna concert was the highest rated original entertainment program in the network's history. Apparently, America's parents have totally given up hope that they could control what their children are exposed to on TV.

            What is most disturbing is that products appeared in Americas homes during prime time on a Sunday, and people seemed to think it was no big deal. The television, in a way that now seems quaint, was once considered almost sacred ground when it came to certain material precisely because children were watching. But the country has been so beaten down by a lessening of public standards that obscenities could be telecasted to millions of families without causing even a ripple of protest. What of the argument that parents should just turn off the TV if they don't like the programming?

            It's valid but there was no warning before Madonna launched into her first rapid fire round of obscenities. Although the telecast was promoted as being live, it actually was taped hours before. The network knew what it was sending out. Yet it did so without deletions or an advisory notice at the beginning of the show. This was "a creative decision," HBO says.

            HBO, as a cable network, is not bound by the same restrictions placed on the over the air networks. But this nicely is undoubtedly lost on children who have grown up with cable TV in their homes. To them, HBO is just another stop on the dial.

            Those children would hear worse in their lifetimes they probably already have. To telecast a concert like Madonna's is no longer considered particularly controversial. But to wonder publicly about the wisdom of it to say that delivering such a performance to the nation's children is wrong that is considered controversial. To say it is wrong is to seem am of step with the rest of the world. But it is wrong. It is dead wrong.

            The cry is loud but are there listeners? So, the men and women of fun and entertainment industry do not enjoy real happiness, nor do they present valuable things to the society, but most of what they produce are destructive materials. As mentioned several times during the discussion, happiness is an inner motive and a goal which could not be acquired alone by the mere fulfilment of external or material needs. Enrichment and nourishment of our inner being make an essential requirement to a morally sound development of ourselves.

            The foregoing stones and examples prove one thing in common: that true happiness does not emanate from wealth fame, academic degrees and titles, high rank or Position in society. What are therefore, those factors that many constitute sources of both physical arid spiritual well being for man? Where does happiness originate? And what are the qualities of those who are truly happy?

            Before answering these questions, let us first discuss in brief the barriers to real happiness.

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