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Lions Roar : March 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2007 17 I’ll be right back. WORDS OF OUR FOREFATHERS In the article “Stumbling on Happiness” (January 2007), the Shambhala Sun asks Daniel Gilbert, “What do you think of the fact that the idea of happiness is enshrined in the U.S Constitution?” To which Dr. Gilbert replies, “The Constitution prom- ise three things: life, liberty, and the pur- suit of happiness. That’s interesting—it’s not the pursuit of liberty. Liberty you’re given, but all you’re given about happiness is the right to try to find it.” By now, many readers have probably re- minded Shambhala Sun and Dr. Gilbert that the U.S. Constitution contains no mention of the pursuit of happiness. There is some mention of the blessings of liberty, although not as something guaranteed or given. And there is a quick stab at tranquility. The Con- stitution mostly describes the duties of the government and limits its power. I think you have conflated the Consti- tution with the Declaration of Indepen- dence, a sort of divorce statement written fourteen years earlier when America was hoping to get foreign aid from France. The Declaration of Independence may contain the hopes and wisdom of our country, but it has no legal power at all. Both of these documents are aston- ishing. I recommend reading them. It’s sometimes a treat to take a grown-up brain back to sixth grade. Carol Adair Fairfax, California DEFENDING BOOMERS I am writing in sad reaction to Jane Hartrick’s rant about boomers (“Are the Boomers a Bust?” January 2007). I am not readily able to condemn a whole generation. Many of the boomers neither partied nor revolted, but tried to live with new awareness. Not all of us were blessed with an easy ability to rebel, but stood up for things no one had ever dared challenge before. And not all us did so from a position of privilege—it was not until the late 90s that it could be said that nearly one quarter of people in the U.S. had college educations. And though today our salaries are slipping, few women have had the opportunity to earn a decent liv- ing without such an education. Yes there are uncounted challenges left— war, waste, and inequity. But are we quite done yet? There is a wry joke that runs to the effect that to live long means one has much to account for. We do not have time to become perfect, but we do have time to do better. Great disappointment is the result of unreasonable expectations. “Boomers” are a mythology built by the media and market- ers, another “we” illusion. Susan Lee Scottsdale, Arizona GINSBERG’S STAR I enjoyed the talk by Allen Ginsberg that you published in the November 2006 is- sue and the photos that accompanied it. Readers of Shambhala Sun might like to know that the photo of Ginsberg that ap- peared on page 81 was used in an ad for the Gap that appeared in popular Ameri- can magazines and that bore the slogan “Allen Ginsberg wore khakis.” While the Gap intended the ad to sell men’s trousers, it also played a small part in popularizing Buddhism and in promoting Ginsberg’s image and his work, as well. For the last two decades of his life, Ginsberg served as a walking, talking—and sitting—adver- tisement for Buddhism and for the Beat generation writers as well. Having worked in advertising and in marketing in New York and San Francisco, he understood the importance and the value of advertis- ing and marketing. All his life, he howled resistance, as Stephen Mooney points out, and as a genius at promotion and public relations, he also helped to bring to the mainstream cultures and traditions on the fringes of society. Jonah Raskin Rohnert Park, California ♦ PHOTOBYMYLESARONOWITZ