[W]e should define what progress means to us. If it means an increase in happiness, its case is lost almost at first sight. Our capacity for fretting is endless and no matter how many difficulties we surmount, how many ideals we realize, we shall always find an excuse for being magnificently miserable. There is a stealthy pleasure in rejecting mankind or the universe as unworthy of our approval. it seems silly to define progress in terms that would make the average child a higher, more advanced product of life than the adult or the sage, for certainly the child is the happiest of the three.
This I really like this. It comes from Will & Ariel Durant’s The Lessons of History, and I like it as a reminder that human progress does not bring with it contentment. In other words, the material aspects of life tend to improve, but the spiritual and psychological aspects of life tend to remain constant.
I also like this because it speaks to why Christianity makes intuitive sense to me. We accept that greater progress doesn’t bring greater happiness. In other words, we accept that a lack of contentment is a defining aspect of our experience. Given that contentment is fleeting, it makes sense to be that there is a state of existence where it is not fleeting. Virtue and vice. Light and darkness. Yin and yang.
There must be a place where happiness is the defining quality. Durant’s point that “the child is the happiest” also syncs with Christ’s remark that we will need to make ourselves child-like to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.