Brasilia - Brazil Looks At Adding 'happiness' To Constitution
Brasilia, Brazil - In a nation known for its jubilant spirit, massive parties and seemingly intrinsic ability to celebrate anything under the sun, is a constitutional amendment really required to protect the pursuit of happiness?
Several lawmakers think so, and a bill to amend Brazil’s Constitution to make the search for happiness an inalienable right is widely expected to be approved soon by the Senate, which reconvened Tuesday. The bill would then go to the lower house.
Supporters say the happiness bill is a serious undertaking despite the revelry, meant to address Brazil’s stark economic and social inequalities.
“In Brazil, we’ve had economic growth without the social growth hoped for,” said Mauro Motoryn, the director of the Happier Movement, a non-governmental organization backing the legislation. “With the constitutional amendment, we want to provoke discussion, to seek approval for the creation of conditions in which social rights are upheld.”
Similar explorations of officially finding happiness have been pushed by other governments. Both Japan and South Korea include the right to happiness in their constitutions, and earlier this month, the British government detailed plans to begin a $3 million project to measure citizens’ well being.
In the early 1970s, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan pioneered the idea of maintaining a “happiness index.” Well before that, the 1776 U.S. Declaration of Independence made its often-noted stand for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The bill before Brazil’s Congress would insert the phrase “pursuit of happiness” into Article 6 of the constitution, which states that education, health, food, work, housing, leisure and security — among other issues — are the social rights of all citizens.
Cristovam Buarque, a senator and former minister of education who is the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said adding the “pursuit of happiness” was essential to helping ordinary people begin holding to account a government that has long been accused of not providing basic services to the poor.
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