A couple of questions to consider:
What constitutes a happy childhood?
Did you have one?
How many people in the world have happy childhoods?
I was recently talking to someone who believes that he had an unequivocally happy childhood and that, moreover, “most people” have a happy childhood.
I said I probably didn’t. That is, I was happy some of the time, and I was certainly lucky compared to many millions of people on earth. But, seriously and honestly, I couldn’t say my childhood was happy overall. My household was too tense, too many people were mad or miserable at any particular time, and I was usually anxiously observant, trying to predict the next explosion or worrying about the last one.
Furthermore, I believe that since 80% of the world’s population earns less than $10 a day, most of the children of the world are not having a happy childhood. That is, they’re way worse off than I was, in that they’re likely hungry and thirsty a lot of the time and have little access to education and other advantages in life. About half the world’s population lives in what is called “absolute poverty,” on less than $2.50 a day. (These dollar amounts, by the way, refer to buying power. You can’t use that “But it buys so much more in their country” argument.)
I know that people who are poor can have happy lives. That is, while doing without material goods, they can enjoy their families and their work. But lacking food, water, healthcare, shelter, and meaningful work precludes happiness. Moreover, living in dire poverty frequently also implies violence and humiliation and danger.
My happy childhood guy disagreed. While compassionate toward people suffering from malnutrition, war, and extreme poverty, he stuck to his argument that “most people” are happy and had a happy childhood.
I know it’s a stupid argument, because who can even define “happy”? I still want to know what you think, either about your own childhood or everybody else’s. Let me know.