Let’s Be Happy 3

What’s a happiness spoiler for you? I’d like to invite you to delve into this topic a bit deeper with the story below.

HAPPY FOURTH

An exchange student who fought to keep his country from turning into a communist regime asked a professor, “Do you know how to catch wild pigs?” Then he explained:

You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side.The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again. Then you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but to no avail. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity. The young man told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in America.

What’s wrong with eating your food? But what a way to live. Is this what you want? Is there no other way? Apparently, happiness needs an environment of freedom. Just ask the incarcerated who are fed daily meals. They’d rather get out of jail. No wonder, our brave freedom fighters go to war if there is no other way. And there are other arenas, some more personal, where we need to be freed to be happy. Some are relational, spiritual, or financial. What is yours?

Unfortunately, it is when we are down and out that we may fall for the easier way out. It gets worse when it is a national crisis like an epidemic or a recession. Now that we are hit with inflation, shouldn’t we be more careful who we trust? To stay on course, let’s keep in mind a few things. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and evil exists along side the good so that what is free and the promised benefits may not really be, because there is a catch. In the end, good intention is not enough. There are “nice” people who take advantage of others instead of “loving your neighbor as yourself.”

What are we willing to give up in exchange for food? Can’t simply follow the crowd or that free stuff. It might be a timely reminder to say that Hitler used inflation as the single issue to buy the allegiance of people. Is it any wonder that Marxism also offer an economic solution for deep longings of the soul? History shows that “safety” is an effective offer to make others submit to your demand. Maybe that is why Jesus said, be gentle as a dove but wise as a serpent. It is not enough to be nice, faithful believers. We must be wise as are those who refuse to compromise to get ahead.

Einstein once said, “Genius is 1% talent, and 99% hard work.”

May we not become a society addicted to freebees. Freebees is addictive. “The instant gratification from dopamine it produces is a rewarding feeling like that produced by drugs. But dopamine also prevent us from learning that the reward is fleeting. It creates a learning resistance at the primal level of the brain as happens in gambling or social media by interfering with reward prediction. It overrides our self-awareness or reflection that a thing is damaging, deceptive or degrading, with an illusion that the reward is ever new and worth pursuing.

Indeed, nothing is free including life, liberty and happiness. And what would you give in exchange for them? Have you made an awful exchange already? Don’t panic. You are not alone. This reminds me of the brothers Jacob and Esau in the Bible. For a bowl of porridge, elder brother Esau sold his birthright to younger brother Jacob who outwit him. Unfortunately, many are going to make choices out of fear or for instant gratification due to haste, wrong belief, pride, misplaced trust, naive expectation, compromised values, which plunged them into greater losses, moral failures, and spoiled, lifetime of unhappiness. But based on Matthew 6:33, the solution may not be as hard or too late as it seems. It says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Then all these things shall be added unto you.”

Small Step: So when the world is unkind, do I turn into swine and forget I am made in God’s image? To remember Freedom day, what is one value worth remembering and guarding?