Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing.
George A. Sheehan
Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Sorrow and Frustration have their power. The world is moved by people with great discontents. Happiness is a drug. It can make men blind and deaf and insensible to reality. There are times when only sorrow can give to sorrow.
Would we be happier if we acted a bit more like the Houyhnhnms, and also reasoned in the same manner they do? Perhaps in some regards, as suffering and conflict would surely be diminished, but the happiness we live and breathe for entails a notion that is evidently separate from the seemingly perfect philosophy of the supposedly superior horse-people in the land of the Houyhnhnms. Happiness is found to occur over accomplishment and triumph, over the strife and struggles present in our society, that seem to be devoid or lacking on this horse-run island. Happiness is infinitely defined, and can be seen also alongside the vices of our world and the insinuation of terror, and in the ways blissful innocence and enlightened thinking may. I believe that Swift does a commendable job at putting into perspective the imperfections and ethically digressive actions we partake through the characterization of the Yahoos, and I sense an underlying presence of irony in that Gulliver becomes too caught up in his own fantasy of a Utopian society, forgetting the beauty of the challenge and the triumph of adversity.
Through the doubt of those who have denied your capabilities, you have many times succeeded in life and felt the elation of such a victory. Opposition and challenges are what opportunities to succeed and overcome. They are scenarios in which brave individuals and daring souls have resisted and rejected attempts of tyranny and authoritative rule. Swift shows the fault of laws, greed, war among other repulsive aspects of our culture, but he begins to lose a grasp of what makes us human. Ironically, in his attempt to convey the grotesque and undesirable reality of mankind, he inadvertently reveals the magnificence of imperfection. There is a severe lack of joy and happiness in the world of the Houyhnhnms. The unpleasant realities of our world give us a platform to contrast onto our perceptions of good and righteousness. Heaven in the bible wouldn’t seem so amazing without the depiction of hell. However Swift brings to light our perception of happiness directly. Truly, happiness can be a result of maniacal fervor, or blatant addiction, but this is where the unique existence of our kind is shaped. For those who find happiness in the light of positivism and ethical behavior, then evil is indeed necessary.
We have come to define happiness in our own ways throughout time, and to extract a more perfect definition of this, would oppose and detract from the original meaning of the word itself. Like each and every human, our world is imperfect in its very own beautiful way, and happiness is defined with this imperfection. Johnathan Swift implies a more peaceful and desirable way of living through the Houyhnhnms, but demonstrates that ultimately a transition to a more perfect society would inevitably dismantle the true definition of happiness that we surely all pursue.
Swift is evidently targeting John Locke’s philosophy of nature, war, and society. Locke seemed to justify European colonization attempts with his doctrine on the necessity of society. The enlightenment aimed to glorify the intellectual, but at the expense of those who were deemed as not within the category of a society, the uncivilized. The Houyhnhmns seemed to emulate this Lockean philosophy, and were willing to exterminate the Yahoos for their own well-being. With Gulliver’s Travels, Swift expresses his concern over the dangers that Enlightenment thinking can insinuate. He insists that superiority will involve gruesome and heartless actions. He makes it clear that happiness is not present through the path that the enlightenment might proceed to. Johnathan Swift defends those who would otherwise have no say, and presents a rare defense to the encroaching oppression of tyrannical governments.