imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
Tell the NSA: StopWatching.US

Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

CopWatch LA

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List





IMC Network: www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - js reader version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles
link:

Is Happiness History?

by Charlotte Laws Saturday, Mar. 24, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Colin Quinn was performing his brilliant one man show "Long Story Short" (directed by Jerry Seinfeld) to a sold-out crowd. In addition to nonstop laughs on historical topics, the show offered profound insights. I was particularly intrigued by Colin’s observation that (the pursuit of) “happiness” is part of Declaration of Independence, yet “no other country has made it their policy to cheer people up.” How ironic, I thought.

Is there a connection between happiness and History--the tedious, sleep-inducing subject that I was forced to study year after year in school? I was generally a good student, but I remember the “D” on my fourth grade report card as if it was a pimple on my chin.

My dislike of History did not wane when I began college at California State University, Northridge. Why memorize dates, battles and the names of dead white guys, who had no relevance to my life? In retaliation, I invented jokes about these dead white guys with my accomplice in crime: classmate Bill Berle (comedian Milton Berle’s son). Like inmates in adjacent cells, we made the best of our stay in the slammer--Western Civilization class--by whispering, by passing notes and by generally disrespecting the material--always careful not to draw unfavorable attention from our warden, the professor. The subject matter was highly conducive to ridicule because it included details about the sex lives of Greeks and other ancient peoples. Let’s just say Rick Santorum would not have condoned their behavior.

This brings me to Colin Quinn, the magically funny and devastatingly handsome (but since I am married, I naturally did not notice) comedian. He was performing his brilliant one-man show “Long Story Short” to a sold-out crowd in Palm Desert, California. From my seat behind bird lady (some annoying woman with a peacock feather hat), I watched Colin explore the messed up cultures of the past and masterfully connect them with the messed up cultures of today. He joked that “Ancient Greek kids were just like us. They watched 40 hours of theater per week.” He said that democracy had disintegrated into “Lil Wayne and Girls Gone Wild” and that the Holy Roman Empire was mostly about priests and lots of jewelry.

In addition to nonstop laughs on historical topics, the show offered profound insights. I was particularly intrigued by Colin’s observation that (the pursuit of) “happiness” is part of Declaration of Independence, yet “no other country has made it their policy to cheer people up.” How ironic, I thought. The one country that aims to link history with happiness is largely comprised of folks who believe studying the past is dreary and a waste of time.

Apathy naturally leads to ignorance. According to a Newsweek poll, 29 percent of U.S. citizens cannot name the vice-president and 73 percent are hazy about the reasons for the cold war. In a separate study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, test takers knew more about American Idol than the Gettysburg Address, and only half could list the three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. In the end, 71 percent of study participants were graded “F”—a pretty big pimple, if you ask me.

According to even more studies, Europeans outperform Americans on “historical facts about the world”; and there are traditional explanations for this: our broken educational system, the ever-widening income gap in the U.S., the abundance of dull and somniferous textbooks, the more intellectually oriented European culture and the fact that America is a large land, separated from most other nations by a whole lot of water. There is an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality--it is difficult to care about stuff so far away.

But I have a final theory, which I call “cut your losses and run.” Since Americans start the race 200 paces behind Europeans, why try in the first place? As a nation, we feel disadvantaged historically speaking, so why further embarrass ourselves? We are arguably reluctant to expend effort. We are a new country; we lack the rich traditions and delightful 500-year-old structures. We are better at state-of-the-art and innovation. We fizzle when reminiscing over gray-haired institutions, outmoded customs and long dead ancestors. Why play a game we cannot win?

As a competitive and success-oriented people, we’d rather focus on our strengths: being specialized and making money. History is sort of like Latin. It leads to unemployment. History is for old codgers wearing ascots and lapel pins. America is about youth, energy and advancement. It is about bulldozing the old and making way for the modern. Many of us shoved History into the coat closet years ago; and when confronted by polls (or Jay Leno in a “jaywalking” gag), our apathy becomes evident. We pull dusty, moth-eaten ideas from that closet; and mostly end up with wrong answers and blank stares.

Colin made me realize that although I cannot say happiness is History, learning about the past can add texture to my life. To make a long story short, I now realize I am a “17th Century Holland” gal, just as someone else might be an Iron Age enthusiast or a Shang Dynasty devotee. History can transport me beyond today--it can be a form of spirituality. While life is casually reading a book, studying the footnotes can add a dimension or richness that I might not otherwise know.

After the show, I went backstage to schmooze with Colin and to tell him that he’d succeeded in his policy to cheer people up. Pursuing happiness is easier when he is in the room.

Plus, he’s devastatingly handsome (but, of course, I did not notice).

_____

Charlotte Laws, Ph.D. is an author, weekly contributor on the NBC show “The Filter” and a member of the Greater Valley Glen Council in Southern California. You can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CharlotteLaws

Article first appeared in Huffington Post on March 20, 2012
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


Local News

5 Reasons to Support RAC-LA This Month J20 11:10PM

Viacom CBS' Sumner Redstone Promotes Brutal Treatment Of Pot Smokers J19 1:20PM

Summer 2015 National Immigrant Solidarity Network Monthly News Alert! J15 12:33PM

Housing Board Member is an Evicter! J11 11:37PM

KPFK & PAPCIFICA forum in LA J11 5:45PM

LA Times goes to bat for killer cops in Salinas J10 10:34PM

NUCLEAR SHUTDOWN NEWS MAY 2015 J04 12:48PM

Los Angeles Uranium Film Festival J04 7:18AM

KPFK difficulties continue J01 4:22PM

KPFK buys premiums to re-sell them for donations -so J01 4:00PM

Latest Long Beach Police Execution: Murder of Youth In Mental Distress J01 8:19AM

How can california deal with this water crisis? M31 1:46PM

Four Winds of March Against Monsanto Los Angeles Take The Streets of Hollywood M27 2:49PM

Foreclosure Victims Occupy Senate Stump Speech of Kamala Harris M21 4:58AM

LA Nakba Anniversary protest at the Israel Consulate M19 12:56AM

Long Beach Police Execute Unarmed Teen Hector Morejon on Suspicion Of Trespassing M15 6:08AM

Eagle-Con 2015 at Cal State L.A. M13 4:15PM

Brendon Glenn Dies and Venice S/Weeps M08 7:45PM

JOIN CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST RONALD L. HAVNER JR's PREDATORY BUSINESS, PUBLIC STORAGE M08 4:48PM

Councilmember Bonin Calls People of Venice Outraged by Police Murder “Outside Agitators" M08 10:45AM

May Day March, LA 2015 M07 7:33PM

LA Progressive: Ref Rodriguez—What the PUC Is Going on Here? M05 11:26PM

L.A. Stands in Solidarity with Australian Aborigines M05 11:12AM

KPFK'S rep to Pacific Bd Whitleblower -being kicked out ...plse sign petiton here M04 2:38PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Tsipras Surrenders to Troika Demands J01 5:21AM

The U.S. Social Forum Puts San José on the Map of Social Change J30 11:26PM

Governor SIgns SB 277, Citing Science J30 6:54PM

Corruption of Law & Society by fbi J30 9:20AM

Russia Vows Continued Support for Embattled Syria J30 9:19AM

Dreyer's, Another Ice Cream Maker, Is Owned By Nestle J30 9:09AM

No Deal as June 30 Iranian Nuclear Talks Deadline Arrives J30 7:17AM

Greece May Become BRICS Member J30 4:58AM

Greece May Become BRICS Member J30 4:54AM

High-Seas Piracy: Israel's Latest Bandit Act J30 2:31AM

Gov Mulls SB 277 (SATIRE) J29 10:47PM

Video: The Age of Uncertainty-The Big Corporation, 56 min J29 3:51PM

KPFK in Pacifica's meeting - more descriptions J29 2:57PM

KPFK hosted PACIFICA's board in LA. Missed it? here's some for ya J29 2:16PM

Khader Adnan Ends Hunger Strike J29 12:12PM

Sitemeter blocks my account, prevents tracking of visitors J29 11:47AM

ISIS: US Proxy Foot Soldiers J29 10:50AM

Greece Declares Bank Holiday, Capital Controls Imposed J29 8:37AM

Netanyahu's Statement Following His Latest Bandit Act J29 5:34AM

Israel Hijacks Humanitarian Ship to Gaza in International Waters J29 3:27AM

Going for Broke. Why Financialization is the Wrong Fix for Infrastructure, 60 pp J28 6:50PM

Covert assaults for hideous agendas J28 5:31PM

BDS Effect on Israel's Economy J28 11:55AM

EU Bashes "Russian Propaganda" J28 9:51AM

Troika Intends Starving Greece Into Submission J28 6:46AM

Israel Is Murdering Khader Adnan J28 3:55AM

Paraphysique du taulard J28 1:51AM

Our Duty, Yours & Mine J27 6:54PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy