The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is to create a new government ministry—the country’s first ministry of happiness. It will be dedicated to “putting a smile on every face”. It also aims to track their smiling citizens’ growth in happiness.
The state’s chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, said, “The state will be made responsible for happiness and tolerance of its citizens and will rope in psychologists to counsel people on how to be always happy.”
The reason this caught my eye was that I was preparing to preach this Sabbath on “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”—so happiness had been uppermost in my contemplations this week. I had also been listening to a lecture Carl Trueman gave at our Shaftesbury Square congregation—and he unpacked a further level of significance to the quest for happiness.
Without being overdramatic I believe the pursuit of happiness (or The Great Happiness Project) lies at the root of many of society’s problems—both personal and social. Obviously I have no problem with happiness—I’m all for it—but the pursuit of it is the problem.
Trueman quotes American sociologist Philip Rieff who set out four stages of Western civilization:
‘Political Man’ of classical civilisation—man defined by the city and […]