May 3, 2011
On the census form for the city of Somerville, Massachusetts, there was a question about happiness. “On a scale of 1 to 10,” it asked, “how happy do you feel right now?”
I suspect at the moment some people read that question and examined their level of happiness, it might have been high, or low, or in the middle. A few hours later, or the next day, it might have been something else. Silly question. And why does government need that information?
Happiness is overrated. Paul says to be content with whatever state we are in. Contentedness and happiness are not the same. One is superficial, the other substantive.
If you substitute the word “happy” for blessed in theBbeatitudes and the Psalms, as some translations and paraphrases do, you read happiness is related to doing the will of God and being obedient to him.
The census question in Somerville, Massachusetts, is about feelings. Happiness in the Bible is something else. And it lasts longer.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.