I attended a wedding earlier this month in Asheville of two 80-plus-year-olds. The ceremony combined a Celtic tradition along with Christian and ecumenical religious traditions, ending with an African spiritual saying. After taking vows, they turned to each other and each said, “I am what I am because you are who you are.” Then both turned to the crowded observers and said in unison, “We are who we are because of who you all are.” It was a two- to three-minute ceremony that the couple described as a Celebration of Life. It brought tears to many witnesses of this ceremony of life, which reflected in the joy of the following reception.
I believe this reflection of joy and happiness is what being a human being is about. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, this peak experience expressed the longing deep in the human species that expresses our spirituality. The longing to experience the goodness, the truth and the beauty of the gift of life — simple and profound.
The Celtic tradition included “handfasting,” when a couple ties their hands to each other, representing their oneness. The religious tradition expressed the power of love. The phrase “We are who we are because you all are who you are” reflects Ubuntu philosophy expressing the idea that we are all one.
Feeling this peak experience within myself, I’m motivated to share my reflections on the oneness of the people present, which represented pluralism in America; our togetherness reflected we were “all one” when celebrating what matters in life.
I let my thoughts jump to Bhutan, which measures Gross National Happiness rather than the American dream of Gross National Product. The Bhutan government’s mission is to steer national development toward promotion of happiness for all Bhutans, guided by the philosophy of GNH, not by any one political ideology that pursues divisive power and domination based on money, reflected in our polarized government.
This is too complex to achieve on a national or even state level, but we can act locally to influence other cities and our state government. Google Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission’s goals and objectives to see how this small country is rated the happiest country in Asia. Also Google where our country stands in the Happiest Countries rating of developed nations. We are far from No. 1.
I’m moved to share this with you to remind and encourage us to participate actively in our democracy by informing ourselves of the good in the world and how blessed we are when we come together as a people.
— Ed Sacco