"We must recognize that when people are battling the terrorism of trauma, they are not free. This means there can be no freedom without healing. And this means there can be no true pursuit of happiness until one is healing. Accordingly, to work towards a politics of freedom means we must seek to heal every single individual." From Therapeutic Justice: Essays on Healing America
A Politics of Freedom
In society today, certain politicians strive to exploit the pain and dysfunction that exists. Simply put, they exploit people's trauma. Arguably, these efforts only serve to increase the existing trauma and may even re-traumatize the exploited. This is unfortunate. But even worse: it is bad politics.
Why? Because, in a democratic society, free citizens are a necessity. So, increasing trauma decreases freedom. When injured people are battling the pain of trauma, they are not free. To be free one must, in some sense, be free of trauma.
Today trauma is everywhere. It comes in many forms: illness, poverty, unemployment, sexual abuse, abandonment, homelessness, domestic violence, malnutrition, sexism, homophobia, racism, bullying, incarceration and more. We know that even one event can induce trauma. Accordingly, a politics of freedom means we must strive to create a culture where healing and health is the norm.
Our Forefather's Definition of Happiness
In his book, Revolutionary Writings of John Adams, [i] C. Bradley Thompson, says the following:
Considered by many as the one person who had thought most deeply about constitutional design, Adams was frequently called upon to recommend various plans of government.... Adams responded to their requests with his most influential writing.... Thoughts on Government....a distillation of Adams's most advanced political thinking on republican government: frequent elections, separation of powers, bicameralism, a unitary executive armed with a strong veto power, and an independent judiciary....
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Thoughts on Government, is what Adams asserts is the purpose of government. Adams said:
Politicians will agree that the happiness of society is the end of government.... From this principle it will follow, that the form of government which communicates....happiness, to the greatest number of persons....is the best.
All sober inquirers after truth....have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue. Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, Mahomet, not to mention authorities really sacred, have agreed in this....
Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion and renders men in whom it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it.
In this statement from John Adams it is critical that he links happiness ultimately to the cultivation of virtue.
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