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The Atlantic Could 2022 Situation: The Commons

The Satisfaction Lure

It doesn’t matter what we obtain or attain, Arthur C. Brooks wrote in March, our biology at all times leaves us wanting extra. However there’s a manner out.

Possibly Arthur C. Brooks spent an excessive amount of time in hyper-ambitious D.C. and hyper-competitive Cambridge, Massachusetts. His view that persons are continually in search of success and admiration doesn’t describe the world I stay in. Individuals hope for significant jobs however accept ones that pay the payments. This isn’t a failure to seek out pleasure; it’s simply what most of us should do. We then hope that we will retailer away sufficient cash and/or job advantages in order that we will stay a satisfying life in retirement, downsizing as we go. Sure, some folks get fascinated by the shiny issues and fail to understand the day-to-day. However I don’t suppose that is true of as many individuals as Mr. Brooks supposes.

Martha Lemmond
Williamstown, N.J.

Arthur C. Brooks’s “The Satisfaction Lure” accommodates a lot knowledge. Opposite to what we frequently inform ourselves, possessing extra issues won’t deliver satisfaction. Brooks attracts upon insights from Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Buddha to make his level, however his declare that they “had been saying the identical factor” misses the mark. Buddhism teaches that detachment is the purpose. Want is the issue. Thomism, nevertheless, teaches that people had been created to want God. When our want is disordered, we search satisfaction in different issues as a substitute. Because it seems, Saint Thomas and the Buddha have very completely different solutions to the query “Why ought to I cease wanting extra possessions?”

Stewart Clem
St. Louis, Mo.

I loved Arthur C. Brooks’s article on satisfaction and the best way to foster it. As I learn, I couldn’t assist however consider a extra modern lyricist whose phrases would apply properly right here. On the primary monitor of Billie Eilish’s newest album (aptly titled Happier Than Ever), she sings: “Issues I as soon as loved / Simply preserve me employed now. / Issues I’m eager for / Sometime, I’ll be bored of.” Appeared to me an incredible description of the hedonic treadmill, and one which Brooks’s daughter may respect greater than Mick Jagger’s.

Ella Riley-Adams
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Whereas Arthur C. Brooks could be very probably appropriate that the great feeling from (in the end) having a letter printed in The Atlantic is probably going fleeting, composing them provides me satisfaction. Coming full circle with the rock-and-roll theme, Sheryl Crow chimes in with Thomas Aquinas, the Buddha, and Mick Jagger by observing that “it’s not having what you need. / It’s wanting what you’ve obtained.” Professor Brooks gives a superb highway map to information us out of the maze of dissatisfaction.

Gene Alldredge
Tuscaloosa, Ala.

January 6 Was Apply

Donald Trump is healthier positioned to subvert an election now than he was in 2020, Barton Gellman argued within the January/February subject.

Amongst many scary features of Barton Gellman’s glorious article, the scariest often is the “unbiased state legislatures” doctrine being developed by conservative authorized activists. It strikes me that this concept—that state legislatures can overturn their voters’ will and select the best way to conduct elections with out federal affect—is nothing greater than a brand new “nullification doctrine.” It harkens again to a really outdated concept in U.S. politics: that states, not residents, are the basic unit of participation within the republic, and that no voter or federal official can inform them what to do. This concept was most famously used to defend slavery towards federal makes an attempt to forestall its unfold, and was additionally on the root of resistance to desegregation.

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Gellman quotes Steve Bannon making clear each how central and the way critical this concept is to the antidemocratic motion. Bannon says: “The state legislatures are the middle of gravity … Individuals are going again to the unique interpretation of the Structure.” Sadly, many voters can probably be satisfied that he’s proper. It is going to be incumbent on media establishments like this journal to put out the stakes clearly: Both we as a rustic imagine in democracy, or we imagine in a number of archaic establishments and the legitimacy of concepts which have solely ever been used for ailing ends.

Benjamin Olneck-Brown
Washington, D.C.

Behind the Cowl

In her cowl story this month, Jessica Bruder stories on the clandestine community making ready for a post-Roe America (“The Abortion Underground”). Such networks existed earlier than the 1973 Supreme Court docket choice, and by no means solely disappeared. For a lot of Individuals, “Roe already feels meaningless,” Bruder writes. “Practically 90 p.c of U.S. counties lack a clinic that provides abortions.” The quilt exhibits an unseen girl’s silhouette, evoking a future wherein ladies who search to finish pregnancies should accomplish that within the shadows.

Oliver Munday, Design Director

From the Archive

For her function “The Shadow Royals,” the workers author Helen Lewis traveled to Tirana, Albania, to satisfy Prince Leka II, inheritor to the nation’s defunct throne. When Mussolini invaded Albania, in 1939, Leka’s grandfather King Zog fled together with his household, and was later barred from returning by Enver Hoxha’s Communist regime. (Leka was 20 when his household returned to Albania, in 2002.)

Most non-Communists had no manner of visiting the nation throughout Hoxha’s reign. However in 1963, a author for The Atlantic discovered a manner in. The British journalist James Cameron had written a e book on China and “moved by all of the Communist states,” he wrote, however Albania—“the final Marxist paradise”—was “the one which appeared impenetrable.” So when he heard about a possibility to journey there with a tour group leaving from Munich, he jumped on the likelihood to fulfill his “collector’s curiosity.”

Cameron’s ensuing Atlantic dispatch is one-third geopolitical evaluation and two-thirds travelogue. Hoping to disguise himself as a vacationer, Cameron arrives in Tirana with no pocket book or any potential to talk the language, and swiftly offends officers by sending a telegram to a London newspaper describing the nation as “remoted.” The article reveals as a lot about Cameron because it does in regards to the place he’s visiting. He complains in regards to the “completely undrinkable wine” and the “indescribably horrible” meals, and about having nothing to learn (his books had been confiscated upon arrival by Communist officers). Albania, he concludes, is “a troublesome place wherein to really feel at dwelling.”

Right now, Tirana is a really completely different metropolis; elements of it might be unrecognizable to Cameron. The world the place Hoxha and his politburo as soon as “sealed themselves away from a discontented populace,” Lewis stories, is now “town’s most trendy district, the place you may drink espresso and eat sushi within the sunshine.”

Will Gordon, Affiliate Editor

Corrections: “Loving the Bald Eagle to Dying” (March) misspelled the identify of the Native American tribe; the right spelling is Te’po’ta’ahl. “The Betrayal” (March) misstated Alex McCoy’s position within the group Frequent Protection; McCoy is the group’s co-founder and was, till September, its political director. As a result of an modifying error, the article additionally included an incorrect record of the types required for a Particular Immigrant Visa.



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