Empty consumerism and soulless government are the traditional two explanations for our modern alienation.
We don’t get happier as our society gets richer, because we chase the wrong things.
I realize that one could easily read this column as a jeremiad against modern life. That isn’t my intention. (Indeed, I am a very public proponent of democratic capitalism with a modern welfare state.) Rather, I mean to appeal to all of us to remember that material prosperity has both benefits and costs. The costs come when we allow our hunger for the fruits of prosperity to blind us to the timeless sources of true human happiness: faith, family, friendship, and work in which we earn our success and serve others. Regardless of how the world might change, those have always been, and will always be, the things that deliver the satisfaction we crave.