Culture

Without Meaning, You Can’t Be Happy

(Pixabay)
An unprecedented loss of values and religion is leaving young Americans depressed, unhappy, and angry.

I began part one of “Why Are So Many Young People Unhappy?” with data showing the apparently unprecedentedly high rate of unhappiness among young people in America (and elsewhere, but I am focusing on America). The rates of suicide, self-injury, depression, mass shootings, and loneliness (at all ages) are higher than ever recorded. It seems that Americans may have been happier, and certainly less lonely, during the Great Depression and World War II than today, even with today’s unprecedentedly high levels of health, longevity, education, and material well-being.

There is, of course, no single explanation, and I listed a number of possible explanations: “Increased use of illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse and less human interaction because of constant cellphone use are two widely offered, valid explanations. Less valid explanations include competition, grades anxiety, capitalism, and income inequality. And then there are young people’s fears that because of global warming, they have a bleak, and perhaps no, future.”

But I do believe that a loss of values and meaning are the two greatest sources of unhappiness.

Among the values lost are those of communal associations. As the great foreign observer of early American life Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1831, Americans’ unique strength derived largely from their participation in innumerable nongovernmental associations — professional, social, civil, political, artistic, philanthropic, and, of course, religious.

But these have all dwindled as government has become ever larger. Whereas Americans got together and formed bonds of friendship through nongovernmental associations, through what organizations will Americans form friendships today? In a video presentation at its 2012 national convention, the Democratic party offered its answer: “Government’s the only thing that we all belong to,” the narrator said.

Then there are traditional middle-class values, like getting married first and then having children. Today, a greater percentage of Americans are born to unwed mothers than ever before, and fewer people are marrying than ever before. There are, for the first time in our history, more single Americans than married Americans. While it is certainly possible to feel lonely in a marriage, people are far more likely to feel lonely without a spouse, and increasingly without children, than with a spouse and children.

And now we come to the biggest problem of all: the lack of meaning.

Aside from food, the greatest human need is meaning. I owe this insight to Viktor Frankl and his classic work, Man’s Search for Meaning, which I first read in high school and which influenced me more than any book other than the Bible. Karl Marx saw man as primarily motivated by economics; Sigmund Freud saw man as primarily driven by the sexual drive; Charles Darwin, or at least his followers, sees us as primarily driven by biology.

But Frankl was right.

As regards economics, poor people who have meaning can be happy, but wealthy people who lack meaning cannot be.

As regards sex, people who do not have a sexual life (such as priests who keep their vow of chastity; many widowed and divorced older people; and others) but have meaning can be happy. Sexually active people who do not have meaning cannot be.

As regards biology, there is no evolutionary explanation for the need for meaning. Every creature except the human being does fine without meaning.

And nothing has given Americans — or any other people, for that matter — as much meaning as religion. But since World War II, God and religion have been relegated to the dustbin of history.

The result?

More than a third of Americans born after 1980 affiliate with no religion. This is unprecedented in American history; until this generation, the vast majority of Americans have been religious.

Maybe, just maybe, the death of religion — the greatest provider of meaning, while certainly not the only — is the single biggest factor in the increasing sadness and loneliness among Americans (and so many others). A 2016 study published in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Psychiatry journal found that American women who attended a religious service at least once a week were five times less likely to commit suicide. Common sense suggests the same is true of men.

The bottom line: The reason so many young people are depressed, unhappy, and angry is the Left has told them that God and Judeo-Christian religions are nonsense; their country is largely evil; their past is deplorable; and their future is hopeless.

That seems to be a major reason, if not the reason, for so much unhappiness: not capitalism, not inequality, not patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia, or xenophobia but rather having no religion, no God, no spouse, no community, no country to believe in, and, ultimately, no meaning. That explains much of the unprecedented unhappiness.

And it explains the widespread adoption of that secular substitute for traditional religion: leftism. But unlike Judaism and Christianity, leftism does not bring its adherents happiness.

© 2020 Creators.com

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The Last Trusted Prosecutor in Washington

John Durham may be the most consequential and least known figure in Washington right now. In May, U.S. attorney general William Barr selected Durham, a longtime prosecutor with a résumé so sterling it nearly glows, to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Last Trusted Prosecutor in Washington

John Durham may be the most consequential and least known figure in Washington right now. In May, U.S. attorney general William Barr selected Durham, a longtime prosecutor with a résumé so sterling it nearly glows, to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the ... Read More
World

WHO Failed

Since its inception 72 years ago almost to the day, the World Health Organization (WHO)  has been credited with the eradication of smallpox and the near eradication of other devastating illnesses, including leprosy and river blindness. This record of success makes the current corruption of the organization ... Read More
World

WHO Failed

Since its inception 72 years ago almost to the day, the World Health Organization (WHO)  has been credited with the eradication of smallpox and the near eradication of other devastating illnesses, including leprosy and river blindness. This record of success makes the current corruption of the organization ... Read More
Health Care

The Experts Lied to Us about Masks

When the stakes are highest, the truth counts the most. Or maybe when things get really serious, that’s when the people really can’t be trusted with the truth. It’s pretty clear which of these two ideas is the one that has been guiding elite medical, political, and journalistic institutions, isn’t it? ... Read More
Health Care

The Experts Lied to Us about Masks

When the stakes are highest, the truth counts the most. Or maybe when things get really serious, that’s when the people really can’t be trusted with the truth. It’s pretty clear which of these two ideas is the one that has been guiding elite medical, political, and journalistic institutions, isn’t it? ... Read More

The Trail Leading Back to the Wuhan Labs

It is understandable that many would be wary of the notion that the origin of the coronavirus could be discovered by some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye, who creates YouTube videos, contends he has identified the source of the coronavirus — and a great deal of the information that ... Read More

The Trail Leading Back to the Wuhan Labs

It is understandable that many would be wary of the notion that the origin of the coronavirus could be discovered by some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye, who creates YouTube videos, contends he has identified the source of the coronavirus — and a great deal of the information that ... Read More
World

A Curious Report from ABC News

Josh Margolin and James Gordon Meek of ABC News reported earlier today that the Trump Administration was warned in November 2019 about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan: As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing ... Read More
World

A Curious Report from ABC News

Josh Margolin and James Gordon Meek of ABC News reported earlier today that the Trump Administration was warned in November 2019 about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan: As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing ... Read More

The Eeyore Syndrome

In A. A. Milne's classic Winne-the-Pooh children’s tales, Eeyore, the old gray donkey, is perennially pessimistic and gloomy. He always expects the worst to happen. Milne understood that Eeyore’s outbursts of depression could at first be salutatory but then become monotonous. The outlook of the pessimist ... Read More

The Eeyore Syndrome

In A. A. Milne's classic Winne-the-Pooh children’s tales, Eeyore, the old gray donkey, is perennially pessimistic and gloomy. He always expects the worst to happen. Milne understood that Eeyore’s outbursts of depression could at first be salutatory but then become monotonous. The outlook of the pessimist ... Read More