The Question of Happy
By R. D. Flavin


Harvey R. Ball (1921-2001), designer of the Smiley.

Transcript of the President's speech last night:

      My fellow Americans, as well as to those around the globe who can hear my voice, I speak to you tonight from the Oval Office of the White House with a heavy heart, but a strong belief we can all join together and better understand the recent events which have had a profound impact on Americans and citizens from every nation on Earth. Most of you already know portions of the events which led up to what some have termed “The Happiness Epidemic,” and tonight, briefly, I'd like to outline what we've learned and propose suggestions on how best to move ahead.

      Our finest scientists and researchers from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, working with the World Health Organization with contributions from non-aligned countries and private firms, have reconstructed a likely scenario for the beginning and spreading of the epidemic. Of course, I refer to statements made by Patient Zeroth, as well as from other sources. The focal outbreak point was, sadly, New York City, which received the most severe, and now known to be incorrect response to “The Happiness Epidemic.” Patient Zeroth, who may be described as a healthy, intelligent young girl in her early teens, average one could easily say, was sitting on a park bench one afternoon reflecting on, as she termed it, “How screwed up everything is.” She went on to explain how she perceived that television, radio, newspapers, magazines, movies, and even her friends and family were constantly discussing and complaining about war, terrorism, the economy and how much things cost, but she stressed, “the crappy meanness and bad manners” that had become so prevalent in her home, classroom, the city, and, it appeared to her, the entire world seemed to be angry about something or another, She said she was sad about the number of children who were coming down with measles because, as she expressed it, “stupid parents who don't believe in science...”

      It was at this time, she explained, she first noticed the elderly, bearded gentleman wearing a brightly colored green and orange suit sitting alongside her on the bench. And then, according to her statement, he spoke to her.

      “You seem to be deep in thought, young lady, as if burdened by the weight of the world. Are you troubled by something?” the old man asked.
     “Everything and everybody,” Patient Zeroth answered.
     “The World is not a perfect place,” he explained, “nor was it ever meant to be.”
“If ONLY there was something I could do!” she cried out, her eyes looking upwards toward the the heavens.
     “And WHAT would you do IF you had such an ability?”
     “I'd make everyone happy and stop them from wanting to be mean,” she answered with conviction.
     “Amen,” the bearded elderly gentlemen said, “or 'Make it so', to use your common vernacular according to Star Trek: The Next Generation television series.”
     “That's sweet,” she said, feeling better all of a sudden. When she turned to thank the old man for his kind and encouraging words he wasn't there. He'd vanished as suddenly as he'd appeared.
     “Oh well,” she said to herself, smiling. And then she left the park bench and returned home for supper. She was sure her mother had made a wonderful meal.

      From there it's assumed she infected her parents and siblings, and the next day by one most of New York City came down with “The Happiness Epidemic.” Police stations began to fill with criminals confessing their crimes and turning in guns, drugs, and stolen merchandise. At first this was regarded as a miracle, of sorts, until the police thanked the criminals for doing their civic duty and sent them on their way instead of arresting them. When the Mayor found out about the actions of his police department, he telephoned the Governor who sent in the National Guard to quarantine New York City as a possible “infected” area and a victim of a bio-chemical attack. He then telephoned me... I take full responsibility for what happened next.

      Before the quarantine of New York City took place, several dozen planes took off for destinations which contaminated the rest of America, as well as infecting ...the rest of the world. I immediately ordered the CDC on lock-down and instructed our military here and abroad to be vigilant for the infection ...and handle it as best they could. I initially issued orders that no one should be allowed to leave New York City, there were several shootings with three fatalities, and it was approximately six hours before the CDC got back to me with their findings. I was not yet infected when I instructed them to create a vaccine to “cure” this epidemic. It took the CDC three weeks to determine that the “virus” had mutated quickly from physical contact to airborne and produce a vaccine. During those three weeks ...the world changed in the most profound ways. It was previously unimaginable, but for a time, Earth was at long last peace. Not everyone was infected, mind you, but it's estimated nearly 98% of Earth's population was exposed to “The Happiness Epidemic.”

      Yes, some would say that certain dreams came true during those weeks. Soldiers stopped fighting, terrorists put down their bombs and began telling jokes, religious and racial prejudice became a casual topic on par with discussing the extinction of dinosaurs, businesses stopped overcharging consumers, certain companies stopped polluting our air and water, and so much more... My personal favorite? When Rush Limbaugh confessed to being a secret liberal and liked to dress up in women’s clothing... However, there was a serious downside to the widespread new happiness and it hurt the world economy, its sense of individuality, and our dreams to do better... It's now a proven fact that happy people don't ...try that hard, because they are content with themselves and care little, if at all, for the next person or major problem. It's been referred to as “Too much of a good thing” situation and I believe we've all just experienced such.”

      Our world became a fairy-tale, of sorts, with goodness, smiles, and charity ...just about everywhere. Those not infected referred to us, as I had become infected by that time, as “high on drugs,” or at least behaving as such. And, then the CDC in conjunction with WHO announced a “cure” for the euphoric “The Happiness Epidemic.” I, my family, friends, staff, and senior government officials, along with the other 98% of the world ...paused, reflected, and knew an important decision MUST be made. Would we, should we, and was it right to take the “cure.” By current estimates, approximately 85% of the world chose the cure and regained their abilities to experience anger and other negative traits which are associated with ...being human. I decided, as Commander-in-chief and President of the United States of America, that I should take the cure to properly lead this nation, whether mistakes are made or not. It was my decision to remain human with the chances of error, failures, and mistakes. I believe I made the correct choice.

      To those who elected not to take the cure, please allow me to reassure you that you have the full protection of the United States government, and for those around the globe I'm told by the United Nations Secretary-General that everything will be done to insure that you will not be harmed or mistreated. It is now our task to move forward with compassion and understanding. Stay happy, as you will, and may God bless America and all of mankind.



Return to