What happiness

I read in Reuters the other day about the annual World Happiness Report, launched in 2012 to support the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

How, you may ask, can I even think about commenting “world happiness” when Gaza….? Yes, the mere mention of “happiness” seems a bit obscene, these days, when we – the West – are aiding and abetting unmentionable acts of horror.

But I actually believe that it is all, somehow, interconnected. What the West has been doing to the Palestinians for decades will forever be a hideous stain on the record of an era that is coming to an end. In the West, mood is affected both by an emerging awareness of the harm we have done to the rest of the world and to the growing signs that our welfare is being eroded.

People in 143 countries and territories have been asked to evaluate their life on a scale from zero to 10. Finland scored 7.7 followed closely by the Scandinavian countries (including Iceland), and Israel, while Afghanistan and Lebanon, at the bottom, scored next to nothing. Palestine, of course, wasn’t asked.

So that’s the main findings – not very heady, but the Reuters journalist David Milliken has done a good job, I think, because he took a good long look at the 52-page report, and because he pointed out a few very interesting findings, I downloaded the report too.

Findings: The United States dropped  to 23rd place from 15th last year, mainly because people younger than 30 would have placed the United States in 62nd place! (See figure 2.2) Biden and Trump, beware!

And that is the very interesting part of the report. In several of the wealthiest countries there appears to be growing dissatisfaction among the young (defined as under 30). The young in Norway put the country in 20th place, those in the UK in 32nd. Rankings for Germany and France were 47 and 48, for Canada 58 (whereas for all ages the Canadian ranking was 15) Spain 55… etc.

Russia’s young at 68th, however, are slightly more positive than the average, 72, whereas Israel’s young put their country in 2nd place! Young Israelis must have been very blind, indeed.

Yes, the times they are a’changin. For the worse in the West, mostly, though Lithuania’s young put their country in first place.

The report reads: “In Western Europe, life evaluations among the young are significantly lower in 2021-2023 than they were in 2006-2010…For the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, happiness has decreased in all age groups, but especially for the young.”

“Interconnected” was the word I used above. The so-called Pax Americana, that never was a Pax at all, is in the process of being exposed. The colossal hoax to which we in the West have been blind, is unravelling. The West’s irresponsible militarisation, the preposterous US debt (and remember, the dollar is the reserve currency, so when the dollar falls, we all fall), the deepening poverty of the bottom 50 % coupled with the spiralling wealth of the top 10 %, the brazen disregard for the accelerating ecological breakdown… all of this crowned now by the shame felt by those of us who are not psychopaths (and we are, fortunately, the vast majority) about our countries’ participation in acts so horrible that I am lost for words… will continue to undermine “happiness” in the West in years to come until the USA stops being such a bloody bully.

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