14 April 2022, The Tablet

Is it OK to be happy when the world is falling apart?

by Joy Marie Clarkson


Last week, my niece came to visit me. It was her fourth birthday. We had doughnuts and played in the park. She danced in the rain with the floral umbrella my mother gave her, twirling with abandon. She exerted herself so much in exuberant rain-dancing that by the time my sister presented her birthday cake, she had fallen fast asleep in my mother’s arms.

The image glows in my mind: Lilian Joy, uncomplicatedly happy, radiant in her four-ness, utterly unworried, wrapped in the excesses of love. Yet as I smile, I catch myself feeling guilty. It is OK to be happy in this fragile world of ours?
Other images have haunted my mind lately too, such as those of a ravaged Ukraine. Social media has attuned us to the fact that, even in the best of times, someone somewhere is always suffering. The past two years have not been the best of times. How do we live well in these times? Must we suspend happiness?

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £30 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login