The Pursuit Of Happiness Essay

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If he had had the same will and desire and only slightly less talent, this story would have been a tragedy rather than a triumph.

Some facts about the “real” Chris Gardner flash upon the screen at the end.

Inalienability is a restriction on rights’ holders.

This immediately changes implications of the terms.

I see individuals everyday who are walking that tightrope or worse, who have fallen off already and just barely managed to grab on to the tightrope and are now moving hand over hand across the chasm of poverty. This struggle and display of the human spirit is uplifting in classic underdog fashion.

Over 90% of the people filing bankruptcy in this country have had one or a combination of these three things happen to them:1. Yet, when Chris gets to the top, he has learned nothing by his near escape from disaster.The movie presents an important concept and then stomps all over it.The concept comes when Will Smith’s character, Chris Gardner, is opining about Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence.In the philosophy of the Declaration, “liberty” cannot mean, say, a right to alienate one’s life by committing suicide, assisted or otherwise.So the inalienability of the rights to life and to the pursuit of happiness necessarily structure the meaning of liberty in the Declaration. Today this phrase is usually understood to mean something like the right to chase after what gives one emotional happiness.The right answer seems to be realizing what is truly important in life, yet how does the movie end the pursuit of happiness?Happiness is achieved when Chris Gardner lands a six-figure commissioned salary brokerage job.To wit, today Americans often think of liberty as “autonomy.” Indeed, in the Supreme Court notably defines the Fourteenth Amendment liberty guarantee as a protection of individual autonomy.According to the Declaration, however, inalienable rights to life and the pursuit of happiness exist in tandem with liberty.He muses that Jefferson called it the “pursuit of happiness” because you could never quite catch it.The running, the chasing, the pursuit would be elusive with the prey remaining just out of reach.


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