Letter to the Editor: Personal happiness shouldn’t be put above discussing important political issues

In response to Wesley Shirola’s column “Ending politicization in 2018 will make everyone happier,” I believe there are some fundamental issues with the idea of treating happiness as an end goal and something to strive for. To me, happiness should just be considered a byproduct of living, not something to hold on to. It’s nice moments that pass by that affirm life as something worth living — but it shouldn’t always necessarily be the end-all, be-all goal.

Being absorbed in our own happiness is a dangerous state to be in. It’s one that can lead to narcissism, complacency and stagnancy in life. And it’s especially dangerous in something like politics, as the column’s author discusses, suggesting people ignore the world around them and the often pressing issues people face in favor of happiness. Taking breaks from paying attention to something like the U.S. government can lead to eventual stagnation in our overall attention. Sure, taking a break could be nice after the past year, but it could also lead us to just constantly ignoring the real situation going on around us. Ignoring the world around you doesn’t just make you blissfully ignorant in the state we’re in: it makes you an active, complacent participant.

With constant news and social media, we have the opportunity to have deep knowledge about, which can then even lead to learning or creating ways to affect change or empower those around them with information. But not taking the opportunities we have available to do so for the sake of our own happiness is selfish and unaccountable. It’s equivalent to selling out those around you so you can have a breath in the sinking ship. But you should be conscious you’re not the only one in the boat: we’re all in here together, and rejecting politicization in favor of personal happiness will get us nowhere.

Clayton Mills, Communication sophomore