Sunday, May 8, 2011

Do We Deserve to be Happy?

Today is Memorial Day in Israel, in remembrance of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. Ceremonies are held all over the country: in public places, at gravesides, in the privacy of the home.  And as families and friends mourn, the country is shrouded in quiet reflection.

And then suddenly, at 8 p.m. in the evening, we welcome in Independence Day. In a fraction of a second, we are supposed to switch from mournful reflection to noisy celebration. I have always found it difficult to understand why these two things are so closely interrelated. I suppose it is to remind ourselves that we can only celebrate because of the sacrifice of others. But I must also ask myself if it is not saying that we really do not deserve to be happy, as our lives are built on lives lost.

There are many ways to mourn and many ways to remember. I think this can be best said in the following poem:

"You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she'd want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on."
-- by David Harkins

Maybe this is the answer as to why Independence Day so closely follows Memorial Day; why we are asked to celebrate so soon after we have mourned.


  1. Beautifully put. As a parent I try to ask myself what I want for my kids knowing that that answer is what I should also want for me. We somehow love our kids unconditionally but often cannot do the same for ourselves. Why is that? Kids live in the moment. They can make the transition easily. Happiness seems so elusive when you are not living in the moment. John Lennon wrote "life is what happens to you while you busy making other plans" in his song "Beautiful Boy". Yes, we deserve to be happy and to do that we need to live in the moment. For most of us, it is that simple and that difficult.

  2. I think we should all attain happiness whether we deserve it or not.

  3. Everybody but everybody has a place in the sun!..and should work at being happy!