Wellbeing

 

THE ZESTFUL LIFE

 

The joyful life

is lived with zest.

Absent zest,

absent real joy.

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The zestful life cannot be enjoyed living irresponsibly. (How can we get enthused, to no purpose?)  But living responsibly often calls for us to take a stand, which, in turn, can spoil our wellbeing – especially if the stand we take is not the loudly demanded.

So what are we to do?

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The fear of being carried away in white vans is trivial compared to that of  getting into black books (of loud and powerful opinion makers).  So also is the risk inordinately greater.

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Some excerpts from the book, “Responsibility Matters”: 

We tend sometime to believe that the unchallenging and physically comfortable course is the most prudent and the most enjoyable.

 

The life of a buffalo in a caring zoo is probably very comfortable.  It is secure too.  But I consider it not a good enough life for me, even if additional gadgetry were provided to kill the time that was not occupied eating, chewing cud and having sex.  Not good enough primarily because our buffalo is never required to take a stand. Even in the wild, it would take a stand only to protect its patch, for food and the sexual rights that go with it, and maybe its calf.  If there is no more for which we feel impelled to take a stand, our life is qualitatively no different from the (wild) buffalo’s.

 

Our life is vastly more comfortable than that of the wild buffalo.  it is in fact much closer to that of the one in the zoo. But wanting to live differently from a buffalo in a zoo invites criticism and sometimes antipathy – from fellow humans in our zoo.  Such resentment stems from the slight discomfort this wish generates in those who are already snug and content.  To live differently from them is implicitly to question their way of living, even if this were not intended.  Quite unintended questioning of others’ conduct or values still attracts resentment. We are not allowed even indirectly to question the conduct of those in our group.

 

Social displeasure is rarely a source of joy to the recipient.  We may not, in a civilized society, put our lives at risk simply by standing up – but we certainly lay our well being on the line.

 

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 We are rarely at risk of losing our lives for resisting injustice. Our reticence to stand up does not stem from fear of being physically attacked or liquidated.  The risk of being looked upon disdainfully is more the cause of our reluctance.  And challenging irresponsibility, especially of those close to us, is straying too far afield to avoid disdain. It is easier to comfort ourselves that things are not so bad after all.  Even if our immediate world is not quite fine, we can remain indifferent, since we have been made to believe that nothing can be changed anyway. Or that it is the fault of powers further afield. A different kind of disincentive to action is the risk that wanting to improve things may be perceived as pure posturing.

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Cynicism is as much an enemy of social progress as complacency.  These are both, I suspect, often deliberately fostered by some vested interests.

It is not that the rest of the populace doesn’t unwittingly reinforce such possibly organized efforts.

 

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