Joy is about as rare as the bald eagle. That’s why Samuel Johnson once remarked that the human race is a vast assemblage of individuals who are counterfeiting happiness. That’s why, after Sigmund Freud had been successful in helping an emotionally disturbed woman, he commented that she had exchanged the exquisite misery of neurosis for the everyday unhappiness of normal human experience. And that’s why Joseph Folliet writes:
“I listen to you talk, my brothers of today; I lend an ear to your conversations, which are nothing but alternating soliloquies. You pour forth torrents of black bile in the form of criticism, complaints and accusations, forever deploring your bad luck and blaming some mysterious people called ‘they’ who never tire of playing dirty tricks on you. As it happens, ‘they’ is everything outside of you—tax collectors, neighbors, the government, perfect strangers. Nothing and nobody, from the weather to the people closest to you, can escape your censure. Why this perpetual fault-finding, which is sadistic toward others and masochistic toward yourselves? Isn’t it possible that you see the dark side of everything because there’s so much darkness in your souls? Don’t you find the world sad and ugly because you view it with a joyless eye? The cold and gloom are in you first of all. Always unsatisfied, always discontented, you make more and more demands. Now, demands point to a lack. When the destitute clamor, we can see exactly what they need. But when the rich and the surfeited multiply their demands, what can they possibly be looking for? Perhaps one thing that wealth and prestige can’t give: joy” (Invitation to Joy, Newman, 1968, pp. 1–3).
In a world short on many things, that’s the saddest lack of all—joy. Nothing, ...1
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