- Advantage of religious faith
- People have become pleasure seeker and materialistic
- Our age, an age of education and literacy
- Wealth distribution and better health situation
- Greater freedom
- Greater physical comforts
- Fear of world war
It is not easy to reply to the question of whether we are happier than our forefathers. However, the question is worth discussing. The life of our forefathers had certainly some enviable features. But then we have certain things, which our forefathers lacked. Our forefathers had religious faith, which has lost its hold on the minds of the present generation. Religious faith used to be a great help to human beings in times of distress or misfortune. The belief that whatever God did was for the good of human beings served as a great consolation to people when any misfortune descended upon them. But now those spiritual beliefs have lost their power of the force. Our faith has crumbled away, leaving an emptiness in our hearts. We now ask if life has nay purpose at all. We now feel confused and perplexed.
Not only that, the decline of religious faith has led also to loss of spiritual values of life. Our forefathers were led by the ideals of charity, sympathy, fellow feelings, the brotherhood of man, etc. Now people have become utterly materialistic and pleasure minded. Everyone wants to make as much money as possible, by fair means or foul. Honesty and integrity are a thing of the past. Now there is a mad scramble for money and for power. The widespread lust for money and power and the disappointment resulting therefrom make people dissatisfied, unhappy and miserable. Formerly people used to feel contented with whatever they had got. Now they desire more and more and reap only discontent.
In certain ways, however, we are surely happier than our forefathers. Our forefathers were the victims of illiteracy, ignorance and superstitions. We today are literate and educated. We now know many of the secrets of Nature unknown to our forefathers. We experience an intellectual thrill when we acquire more and more knowledge. We have more or less got ride of superstitions and imaginary fears.
Wealth is also today more fairly distributed than before. Socialistic trends all over the world have narrowed the gap between the rich and the poor. Previously, even poverty was regarded as a part of the divine scheme of things and was passively accepted by the people. Now the attitude towards, poverty had greatly changed. Poverty is now looked upon as an evil, which can be, and must be removed. The condition of the working classes had greatly improved and still continues to improve especially in the prosperous countries of the West. In communist countries, unemployment and want have almost totally disappeared, and private property has totally been abolished, so that in the economic sense people in those countries are much happier than they ever were. Most countries in the world today call themselves “welfare states” and aim at the happiness of the masses.
We, today, are also happier in the sense that we enjoy better health than our forefathers. Advances in the field of science have made it possible to prevent diseases, to eliminate diseases or to cure diseases. On good health depends much of the happiness of mankind, and the health of mankind today is better than ever before.
We, today, have greater freedom than our forefathers had. Freedom too is an essential condition of happiness. We no longer feel wretched because of any rigid restraints. Woman is today completely free. The young are no longer in the tight grip of their elders, but enjoy a measure of independence unknown before. The joint family wretchedness and misery of those who were its victims. There is greater freedom to love, and here too parental control over boys and girls has considerably been relaxed.
We enjoy greater physical comfort today than ever before. Physical comfort by itself is not. happiness, because happiness is a mental condition, which can exist even without physical comfort. But for the majority of people, physical comfort certainly contributes to happiness. Scientific inventions of our times have made life easier by greatly diminishing the need for manual labour or physical exertion. We also have more leisure in these times, and along with leisure we have many more sources of pleasure.
There is, however, one aspect of our life today that mars our happiness, and that is the fear of a world war. If a world war breaks out, it will be a nuclear war, and a nuclear war will destroy the world. This is a fear which haunts of our time and which tends to poison our happiness.