Who’s the happiest of them all?

My Mother used to tell me I was “incredible”, that I would argue black was white.

My Mother used to tell me I was “incredible”, that I would argue black was white.

She was right of course, but the fact is, given virtually any set of suppositions, people will disagree some are quite capable of arguing, nay demonstrating that black is white concerning the merits of almost any subject,

That’s why I pursued a headline in mid-week, last week, to read about UK researchers identifying “the happiest countries in the world,” based on a series subjective criteria. The research group has done this before and has again able to come up with a judgement identifying a list of nation that they, at least,  claimed to be the “happiest countries on earth.”

It caught my eye because it was on a fast news day, a day when violence-filled political and survivalist revolutions seemed to be erupting at will throughout North Africa and the Middle East.

Seemingly, maniac Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi has made it clear he is prepared to kill as many of his own people as necessary to remain in power.

It was a day too, when one of those supposedly happier nations was experiencing an agony of  loss, death and destruction as a natural earthquake devastated Christchurch, New Zealand.

It was one of these days when virtually everything on the national and international news represented some form of human misery, like attempts to rally to keep food prices within reason in Delhi, India.

There were images on TV and internet of protestors being shot, or clubbed to the ground or running with their clothing and hair on fire, as police used tear gas and batons to put down a general strike in Greece where people were fighting for their lives and futures in the wake of economic collapse.

Bodies were strewn in the streets of Tripoli, while others were being ambulanced to morgues in New Zealand. On the Spanish island  holiday “paradise” of Ibiza, a Moroccan man stabs nine people, apparently for no known reason.

Well, of course, I could go on and on but I know you get the point.

Anyway, here’s this research which describes places like Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Iceland as being among the “happiest” countries to live in  and, conversely, others like Zimbabwe and Burundi the worst of some 178 countries assessed on the researchers’ admittedly, subjective happiness and life satisfaction scale.

A quick read suggests that life satisfaction in this research is, not surprisingly, based on good health and relative wealth in smaller, “comfortable” countries.

Denmark is identified as the happiest” country, the United Stated trails at somewhere near number 23, while China (82), Japan (90) and India (123) would likely be unhappy about their guesstimated status.

It’s about here, when I stopped reading the list and checking it twice, I took a look at some of the hundreds and hundreds of internet comments on the article and recognized – rightly or wrongly – just how subjective all this had to be on the basis of scores and scores of negative, vitriolic and aggressively argumentative commentary from readers around the world.

Virtually every commentator had varied feelings about the elements required measure happiness among people or in a country.

Why, for example many asked, did some of the named  “happiest” countries also happen to have some of the highest suicide, alcoholism and depression rates as well as some significant poverty rates in certain categories of people?

Economic and material wealth was also widely denigrated in favour of various religions and their offers of “peace of mind,” by those who question the research.

Many individual countries get the axe

from writers: Ireland, the US, Canada and Britain are severely abused as places where lack of work, high prices and long waits for health care do not particularly contribute to the happiness of their residents.

Many Californians  and Arizonians wished that illegal aliens pouring across their borders be told about these havens and harbours of bliss and happiness in Europe and helped along the way, if necessary, to these locations.

Indeed there were scores of “America – love it or leave it!” supporters as well as those who simply think most of these European countries ‘ people are more rude, selfish and greedy than they are happy.

I guess Mum was right, shades of black and white differ a great deal when it’s snowing and blowing or you’re baking in the sun on a Mediterranean beach.

Or drifting some roe bait in the Kitimat River looking for a big coho in September.

Forrest Gump’s Mum had a good comparison – life is like a box of chocolates.

In this case it’s what’s inside the chocolate that counts!

 

ahewitson@telus.net

Allen Hewitson has a weekly column in the Northern Sentinel.

 

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