Monday, April 21, 2008

Dreaming on a Toilet Seat

Either Or?

Professional Success or Personal Happiness?
Good Looking Girl or An Intelligent Girl ?
Idealism or Happiness?

I threw these question choices to many of my friends. Each of my friends chose one or the other choice. Not even one, posed the counter question – Why does the choice have to be an either or, and not both? It is simply because, subconsciously, most of us believe that Idealism and Happiness cannot coexist and that they are mutually exclusive. Let us look at this way: Most of the things which a human being considers to be a provider of happiness is a taboo, whereas that which gives him satisfaction of being ideal, arguably calls for stricter controls and therefore a tougher life – hence unhappy. Simply put, being happy is being NOT ideal and being Ideal is tantamount to being NOT happy. I wonder, why the things that are considered ideal, does not give happiness and as a corollary, why things that give happiness are not essentially ideal? Let me illustrate with an example; Mr Happy, who drinks and smokes - habits that are considered bad and therefore not ideal, is happy enjoying the “high state“ of pleasures of drinking and the nicotine peaks of his cigarette. Nevertheless, the values of this society have been so internalised that such pleasures are termed as unholy and sinful, that which causes disease and that, in some religion, is against god’s mandate. So, forever, Mr Happy is living in guilt, the price he pays for his pursuit of happiness. Let us take this man to the next level of our Idealism vs Happiness battle. Say, Mr Happy got married to Ms Practical, who despises habits such as drinking and smoking. Mr Happy is madly in love with her and he knows for sure that Ms Practical cannot accept the fact that he is a drunkard and a smoker and that she is so prejudiced that she will turn a blind eye to every other good quality of his, when she comes to know about his so called bad habits. So, even when idealism demands that he say the truth to her, yet he chooses to lie, to be happy and to keep Ms Practical happy. So, being NOT ideal, that is to say that Mr Happy conceals the material facts about his habits from his wife, is in turn keeping both of them happy.

Is this only how we can make idealism and happiness meet? Can the two, Idealism and Happiness, ever meet? Ideally speaking, Idealism and Happiness must meet happily, but they do not. Where is the concept of mutual coexistence of the so called good and bad, lost? Why can’t we be relieved of the guilt of choosing one over the other? If tolerance is one of the virtues of an Ideal human being, then why is an idealist not tolerant about non ideals? If an idealist, in fact, is tolerant and does not react to mundane manifestations of everyday life non-idealisms – aka Howard Roark of The Fountainhead, where should the not so bestowed like me, draw a line separating Mr Ideal’s tolerance and indifference? Last but not the least, can an ideal man afford to be indifferent to his surroundings, abdicating his responsibility to make this world “ideal” if he considers the world as he sees it “not so ideal” ?

Practically speaking, in this globalised world, where the very institutions of ethics and morality that defined the established precepts of morality and virtues in the first place, are becoming decrepit and losing significance, what we term as idealism is losing its relevance or atleast there is a wide perception that its losing one. Being ideal is not so “cool”. Being Ideal is not about anywhere close to being practical. Such is the divide. Has practicality won over idealism? Or is idealism indifferent to the conflict? Can a world ideally survive this either or battle? Lots of interesting questions but my introspections are only leading to disquieting answers. This does validate my idealism vs happiness battle theory.


buggy said...

a good paradox major. :)

Lazy Lavender said...

Who defines 'ideal', if not me?

My ideal is to be practical. Am I being practical or am I being ideal?

Ideals are subjective; and so is practicality. There is no one-rule for the entire mankind.

In the case of our Mr.Happy, he lives in guilt because he compares his practices in terms of someone else' ideals.

Why is doing things that are taboo 'cool'? For that matter, what the hell is 'cool'?
Forget what the society says, alcohol and nicotine have 'scientifically' proved to cause health issues, in addition the psychological effects. The logic does not get refuted only because religion & society discourage us from indulging.

For sake of the paradox, by the logic presented in the post, ideally, one should be happy with what he does. So if one is indeed 'unhappy', s/he is not being ideal. Oh, and Mr.Ideal never complained about unhappiness, did he?

The Soul Doctor said...

@ Lazy lavender

Nice and thought provoking comments.

I dont question the fact that each of us set our own "ideal". But the concept of such individualised ideals invalidates the very existence of practical.
Practical exists only because we set something as ideal or we know somethings as ideal, and we are unable to follow it completely and choose and pick a few among those ideals to follow.

You are citing a case when one sets only those qualities what he can practice as his ideal and therefore he lives upto his ideal. Here I wonder how far it would be practical to live completely oblivious to the qualities ad defined by the collective conscience of the social set up in which one lives.

In the case of our Mr.Happy, he lives in guilt because he compares his practices in terms of someone else' ideals.very nicely said. I agree with you. And this is the essence of this post. When we dont know what constitutes idealism, we do want to define what is ideal for ourselves, and yet we live in guilt because we tend to compare our ideal with ideal of others or an ideal that has been propagated in the mythological scripts and internalised over the years.

Mr Ideal, if he exists, never complained about unhappiness ....but is it because he is always happy or is it because he is indifferent to unhappiness?? The later doesnt deny the existence or cognition of unhappiness in Mr Ideal ...only the effective masking of it.

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