The Privilege of Happiness

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone.

I mean it. Happy day.

On a day when we (especially men) recognize the many forms of privilege we hold, it’s important to recognize that while “the pursuit of happiness,” as they say, is an inalienable right, actually BEING happy is in some ways the greatest privilege of all.

More than a gender or skin colour that opens doors, more than a fat bank account that buys us stuff, perhaps even as important as the freedom from threat of violence, the ability to live a fulfilling and happy life, with or without a degree of struggle, is a privilege. And while it may come more easily to those of us who enjoy other privileges, that’s never a guarantee. Among people of all races, all genders, all orientations, all levels of physical ability, all the hundred hierarchies of privilege, are people who are truly happy in their day-to-day lives. Likewise, among all groups are the King Haggards—those who, whatever their other privilege or oppression, whatever their identity or difference, are incapable of being happy, or incapable of finding a road to happiness. Sometimes this is temporary, and sometimes it’s intermittent. Other times, it’s neither.

It’s easy for us who are happy in our lives, however we identify and however others see us, to assume that everyone else has in them, every day, the ability to be happy. That simply isn’t true. It’s often completely invisible just how untrue that is. And of all the privileges I enjoy—I, who have so many—it’s the one for which I’m the least guilty, but the most grateful.

I hope that whoever you are, you can enjoy being happy today with me. And if you can’t be happy with me, today or ever, for whatever reason: you are seen, and loved, and not forgotten, on this day or on any other.

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