08 May 2008

A Better Reason for "Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals"

A recent study has concluded that conservatives are happier than liberals because their beliefs lead them to just dismiss inequalities. In other words, they are happier because they just don't care (as much).

I have a much better (in my own view) interpretation of that connection between "rationalization" and happiness, and it is NOT nonchalance and indifference toward their fellow human beings' struggles.

I'll try to explain some of it in under 500,000 words.

It's absolutely NOT that conservatives (at least speaking for myself and those I know) don't care or are trying to "explain away" inequalities. Here's my analysis - not having participated in the study - of why conservatives are happier:
  • We don't choose to let our disadvantages (or advantages) define us; this could be summed up (albeit crudely) as "get over it."
  • We believe you can - and are responsible to - make the best of your life, in your estimation, however it might compare to someone else's.
  • We believe we're not all the same, and everyone doesn't have to be the same to be happy.
  • We're generally religious, which means:
    • We believe human beings are special, created in the image of God, (through whatever processes we don't fully understand yet...), and that He loves us all.
    • We're one of those human beings - so we're more than the sum of our circumstances.
    • We believe in right and wrong, and that doing right leads to greater happiness.
    • We believe it's right to help people, and that we have the power to help.
    • We have the security of trusting a loving God, which makes us less threatened by, and potentially less miserable about, what we consider "mortal" challenges.
  • And there's always the knowledge that whatever happens to us, we all choose how to react to it.
Of course there are HUGE problems in the world. Of course some people's lives are really supremely horrible. But we're supposed to help them ourselves, not whine and worry and wait for the government to force everyone else to do the same thing.

For example, not that money is the only gauge of help, but if we use red-state/blue-state giving as a guide, conservatives (red states) donate more (percentage-wise and dollar-wise) to charitable causes. So they may be rightly less-troubled by inequalities, since they're actually doing something (besides worrying) about it, and their contributions are not forced or limited by others.

And then there's this:
Our research suggests that inequality takes a greater psychological toll on liberals than on conservatives," the researchers write in the June issue of the journal Psychological Science, "apparently because liberals lack ideological rationalizations that would help them frame inequality in a positive (or at least neutral) light.

You mean, like evolution? Survival of the fittest? Wouldn't a solid belief in natural evolutionary tendencies, with no other outside influence or source of moral judgment, provide that "neutral" light?

Try this instead: "All men are created equal."

[And please don't start with the "they only meant white men..." argument - our founding fathers built the END of slavery into the Constitution, not the preservation of it; and it would've countered the point to separate men & women, wouldn't it?]

It doesn't say "identical." We don't have to have the same hair color, genitalia, skin color, daily occupation, choice in music, or brain function to be of equal worth as human beings.

And being worthwhile - both to our God, by virtue of our existence, and to other human beings, by virtue of our choice to help - is a huge source of happiness.

1 comment:

Ann said...

very nice :)