A friend of mine was fully convinced that happiness consisted in marrying a good girl and settling down in life. Before long, he found a girl who he thought would satisfy him and after a brief period of dating, he married the girl in a lavish marriage celebration. All was well until the third year of their marriage. Hence forth, deep cracks surfaced within their marriage. They rarely ate or spent time together. They differed on most issues and agreed on only insignificant issues. All was not well. Finally, my friend came complaining to me. He had hoped to find happiness in this girl just as the girl had hoped to find contentment in this man but both of them found pain and distress in their relationship. The once beautiful marriage collapsed. This episode kept me thinking deeply about the passing joys and pleasures of this life. There are times when we seem to think that we can find ultimate and lasting pleasure in fellow human beings until we realise that human beings can frustrate us, refuse us and even abuse us. However these disappointing relationships illustrate the fact that ultimate joy, pleasure and contentment is not found in fellow human beings but is found in God whose goodness exceeds human affection.
This lack of satisfaction and joy is not only found in personal relationships but also in the political sphere. The political stage in Malawi and elsewhere shows us that you can trust fellow politicians to a certain extent. There have been incidences where politicians have formed political mergers, political alliances and political coalitions but in most of the instances, politicians have ended up breaking their unity in the face of problems or misunderstandings.
Other clear testimonies of the passing joys of political encounters are the different situations where those who are elected end up not listening to the aspirations of the people on the ground and end up losing elections. Another example is the cash gate scandal in which those entrusted to govern end up stealing from the same people who put them into power. The strange thing is that when politicians loose, they end up coming back to the people looking for sympathy forgetting that when they were in power, they did not sympathise with the people themselves.
We have also had situations where politicians have campaigned heavily for a fellow politician, only to be dumped or to separate after emerging victorious in the elections. Such political situations whether good or bad depending on your political affiliation show us that human beings can sometimes frustrate us. The most vivid example is that of political leaders who are voted into power with a big majority only to end up disappointing or torturing the people with decisions that further the politicians’ political survival and personal aggrandisement. The scenes we saw some time ago in Tunisia and Egypt showed us how much people can become frustrated with bad leaders who abuse the trust that they have been given to govern. Absolute power as they say corrupts absolutely. In other instances, the same politicians who survive by public majority are the same ones who turn against the majority by unilaterally making laws and/or amending laws. Such and many more situations show us that we cannot find lasting joy, peace and absolute contentment with politicians.
There is also a section of people who believe that joy and contentment is found in material wealth or money. Unfortunately, the course of history reveals the contrary. Jesus overturned the thinking pattern of the people who thought that wealth is a sign of blessedness (Matthew 5:3). There are some nations that are so rich and yet some social commentators say that in these countries, the rate of suicide is also high. This assertion could be statistically proven otherwise but the truth still remains that richness as such is not an automatic condition for happiness. In fact experience shows that material affluence can sometimes distract one from being religious and lack of religiosity unfortunately alienates a person from the deeper longings of one’s being namely communion with God. This alienation is the genesis of unhappiness. As a matter of fact, a spiritual disconnection is at the basis of several problems at a personal and communal level.
Conclusively then, what can we learn from these situations? The greatest lesson is that happiness, joy and contentment is found in God. We may try to look for happiness from different sources and places but most of these sources will disappoint us. True happiness is found in God. God provides happiness to us especially when we seek him with a sincere heart and follow his commandments.