Pursuit of (Virtual) Happiness?
I know someone who got one of those Virtual Reality computers for their home. To see this person wearing VR goggles on their head, riding a virtual roller coaster, is amusing in itself.
The person “on the ride” is giggling, raising his hands and even getting motion sick. Yet the sudden rise of VR as entertainment should tell us something about our society’s pursuits of happiness these days.
That very phrase—the “pursuit of happiness”—resonates with us, especially as we look toward Independence Day. This time of year, we think about Thomas Jefferson and the Founders timeless saying in the Declaration of Independence, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
If we could bring the American founders to our own day, I think many things would surprise them about how we are living out those values.
I think they would be shocked at how we devalue human life. With abortion on demand and the rampant abuse of women and children, the Founders would see that we are still far from achieving an America ideal in which all life is respected.
Many of the Founders—though sadly not all—would be surprised and pleased to see slavery is no more, and that more people live in freedom than in their time. We have moved toward liberty.
Lastly, I think the Founders would be shocked by the things we do to pursue happiness. From VR games to smartphone apps to simulated experiences, the Founders could see that we are entertaining ourselves to death. We are pursuing a virtual happiness instead of a real happiness.
On the upcoming Independence Day, we Americans can reflect on these values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We can pause to thank God and those who came before us that we do have freedom here in America, and that we can do our best to uphold these values.
And Christians can go one step further, taking this occasion to orient our lives toward life, liberty and the pursuit godliness. Because those values are never virtual but always real.