We Have No Right to Happiness by C.S. Lewis: Quotations

C.s.lewis3This opinion piece was published in the Saturday Evening Post, December 11, 1963. It was C.S. Lewis’ last written work prior to his death. Here he examines the tragedy that awaits those who dispose the eternal law from behind the principle of ‘the right to happiness’: first it becomes ‘the right to (sexual) happiness’, and eventually ‘the right to happiness (in all things)’. “And then, though our technological skill may help us survive a little longer, our civilization will have died at heart, and will – one dare not even add ‘unfortunately’ – be swept away.”

“A right to happiness doesn’t, for me, make much more sense than a right to be six feet tall, or have a millionaire for your father, or to get good weather whenever you want to have a picnic.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“They meant ‘to pursue happiness by all lawful means’; that is, by all means which the Law of Nature eternally sanctions and which the laws of the nation shall sanction.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“When I was a youngster, all the progressive people were saying, ‘Why all this prudery? Let us treat sex just as we treat all our other impulses.’ I was simple-minded enough to believe they mean what they said. I have since discovered that they meant exactly the opposite. They meant that sex was to be treated as no other impulse in our nature has ever been treated by civilized people.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“Absolute obedience to your instinct for self-preservation is what we call cowardice; t your acquisitive impulse, avarice.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“If I object to boys who seal my nectarines, must I be supposed to disapprove of nectarines in general? Or even of boys in general? It might, you know, be stealing that I disapproved of.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“The real situation is skillfully concealed by saying that the question of MR. A’s ‘right’ to desert his wife is one of ‘sexual morality.’ Robbing an orchard is not an offense against some special morality called ‘fruit morality.’ It is an offense against honest. Mr. A’s action is an offense against good faith (to solemn promises), against gratitude (Toward one to whom he was deeply indebted) and against common humanity.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“When two people achieve lasting happiness, this is not solely because they are great lovers but because they are also – I must put it crudely – good people; controlled, loyal, fair-minded mutually adaptable people.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“If we establish a ‘right to (sexual) happiness” which supersedes all the ordinary rules of behavior, we do so not because of what our passion shows itself to be in experience bu because of what it professes to be while we are in the grip of it.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

 

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