Reflecting the Mind of the
Vatican Since 1850

The Politics of Happiness
Those who study happiness observe that accumulation of resources and the race for wealth, which are often considered to guarantee a happy life, are, on the contrary, its most significant obstacles. This conclusion is not just related to the moral or spiritual life. Economists note how the monetization of existence comes at the expense of social wellbeing. This is why they advocate the need to reinstate a wisdom-based rather than utilitarian approach to the quality of life.

One of the most interesting contributions on this issue is that of Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics in 1998. By comparing two very different societies – India and the U.S.A. – Sen described how what creates hardship, rather than poverty, is above all inequality, understood as an impediment to realizing one’s essential gifts.

Inequality, moreover, leads to comparisons between different categories of citizens and, by making income the mark of social status, leads to the “imaginary inequality” that Alexis de Tocqueville spoke of, understood as a lack of recognition and self-esteem. It has been said that the average American’s degree of satisfaction consists of earning $10 more per payday than his neighbor.
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2024
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