Huxley, Christianity and the Right to be Unhappy
Huxley, Christianity and the right to be unhappy
When is the last time you were unhappy? Hurt? Distressed? Felt stressed and pressured, but you had no way out? When is the last time you felt guilt over your own wrong doing? When is the last time you were uncomfortable both physically and emotionally?
In our age of convenience, we are becoming less and less accustomed to these things. In fact, it could be argued that this age of convenience is training us to continually opt out of unhappiness. Really, who would actually want to be unhappy, anyway? Who would want to be inconvenienced? Who would want to feel guilty or stressed out?
As a Christian, it could be argued that unhappiness and the proverbial junk drawer of other unhappy-things mentioned above belong to a fallen world. We know that these things will finally and forever be done away with when Jesus returns to make all things new (Revelation 21:1-8).
However, we are in danger of succumbing to an almost hidden tyranny of comfort in modern times. The more convenient life gets, and the more comfortable materially our society becomes, we become entrapped to its new way of life. The result is a generation of many who do not know how to suffer. Those with chronic pains and illnesses are left in a more real and challenging reality, while the rest of us pursue a digital and material utopia of “get what we want as fast as we want on our terms” kind of life.
If you do not like something, you can simply move along until you find what you are looking for. If that app does not work, find one that does. We expect more and more out of our own devices, and our devices continually deliver the good life of comfort and convenience to us. Add a stay-at-home pandemic to this, and as we are addicted to our screens and devices, we have been shaped by the comfort and convenience they offer. We use our devices, and in turn our devices use us.
But, as Huxley once famously said, we have the right to be unhappy. In chapter 17 of his book, “Brave New World,” Huxley said this in the book’s final showdown between the protagonist and antagonist:
“…I like the inconveniences.”
“We don’t,” said the Controller. “We prefer to do things comfortably.”
“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
“In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I am claiming the right to be unhappy.”
The right to be unhappy puts you in a position of need, and not escape. Comfort and convenience tells you to remove whatever obstacles if only you can finally be happy rather than facing them, dealing with them, and allowing yourself to grow through them – if a Christian, with the help of the Spirit. It removes self from the center of your world and places Jesus there. Yes, sometimes Jesus makes you unhappy, because he is about confronting you in truth and grace.
Do not be obsessed with comfort, or you may find yourself pushing even Jesus away.