Allow me to open this with an excerpt from “A Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley.

     “…..Isn’t there something in living dangerously?’

     “There’s a great deal in it,” the Controller replied. Men and women must have their adrenals stimulated from time to time.”

     “What?” questioned the Savage, uncomprehending.

     “It’s one of the conditions of perfect health. That’s why we’ve made the V.P.S. treatments compulsory.”


     “Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the whole system with adrenin. It’s the complete physiological equivalent of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconveniences.”

     “But 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’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”

     “Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.”

     There was a long silence.

     “I claim them all,” said the Savage at last.

     Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. “You’re welcome,” he said.

     An amazingly insightful passage.

     I guess you can call me a savage if you’d like, but I also claim this right to be unhappy.


     Without the bad, we lose the incentive to make things better. If all we are allowed to experience is comfort and security, the only incentive we have remaining to us is the incentive to maintain the status quo, and that is the very definition of stagnation. We no longer have any use for advancement, improvement, invention, or even exercise.  We become sedentary, we become unable to respond to challenges. In fact, challenges become something to fear, as they remove us from our place of comfort.

     Without the bad, we lose the context we need to appreciate the good. If all we have is good, the good becomes commonplace and unremarkable. The mountain is simply not worth climbing if it is no different than the valley. We must have the bad to appreciate the good.

     We need the freedom to experience all of life. Not to say that we should act badly, but that we should not be sheltered by authority from the bad experiences. We need to be able to fail, to feel pain, to experience loss, to be inadequate. Without these things, without these freedoms, life becomes meaningless and without real purpose.

     No pain, no gain. If nothing is bad, then nothing is good. Everything becomes mediocre.

     Call me a savage if you will, but I will not accept such a life. I demand the freedom to cross the valleys and climb the mountains. I want to feel the bad so I can be thankful for the good. I want to fail so that I can learn to succeed.

     I want to be free to live or die on my own merits, making my own choices.

     I want the right to be unhappy.


One thought on “Why I Want the Right to be Unhappy.

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