Everything is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy

Mark Edmundson, University of Virginia professor, asks an important question in the title of his article If Everything is So Amazing, Why’s Nobody Happy?  I’m reminded of the tweet heard ’round the world from comedian Jim Carrey in which he said, “I wish everyone could experience being rich and famous so they would see it isn’t the answer for anything.” Both professor and comedian seem perplexed that we could have so much and yet lead such empty lives.

Another comedian’s comments on this topic made waves on the internet:

In a comic routine on the Conan O’Brien show, C.K. Louis implies that gratitude is the solution to this generation’s unhappiness. I’m sure that’s a big part of the equation. Of course, with the aggressive secularization and the push to depersonalize the universe, I’m uncertain — in any ultimate sense — to whom we might be grateful.

In his article Professor Mark Edmundson questions the power of gratitude to turn the tide. He seeks to find an answer in dialogue with Plato, who saw the good life as the ideal aim for every human. Edmundson suggests that we need something transcendent to fill our hearts, more than gratitude for all of our gadgets:

But other people will find that no matter how amazing the technologies of pleasure and power may be, life still feels empty. These people will feel that life ought to be more than sleeping and eating and hoarding, getting and spending and having a good time. In our current culture those people may feel confused. Where are they to go for an alternative?

This gnawing parasitic emptiness plaguing the human heart cannot be mortified by mere human efforts. We’ve been working on that project for a long time with little success. But it seems, if the words of Jesus are true, as I believe they are, that we are offered not only eternal, but also abundant life.

But this life comes at a cost. It is not for the faint of heart, though offered to all the empty of heart. It comes in following the resurrected Christ. Jesus put it in the form of a paradox: only those who lose their lives will find them.