Ministry of Happiness

Over the past two weeks, I have heard and read many questions, comments, and news stories regarding recent changes to the government of the United Arab Emirates.

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June 2, 2017 – Online MCAT CARS Practice

Question: What is your summary of the author’s main ideas. Post your own answer in the comments before reading those made by others.

Over the past two weeks, I have heard and read many questions, comments, and news stories regarding recent changes to the government of the United Arab Emirates. Why, everyone seems to want to know, did we establish a Ministry of Happiness, Tolerance, and the Future, and why did we appoint a 22-year-old Minister of Youth?

The changes reflect what we have learned from events in our region over the past five years. In particular, we have learned that failure to respond effectively to the aspirations of young people, who represent more than half of the population in Arab countries, is like swimming against the tide. Without the energy and optimism of youth, societies cannot develop and grow; indeed, they are doomed.

When governments spurn their youth and block their path to a better life, they slam the door in the face of the entire society. We do not forget that the genesis of the tension in our region, the events dubbed the “Arab Spring,” was squarely rooted in the lack of opportunities for young people to achieve their dreams and ambitions.

We are proud that the UAE is a young country. And we are proud of our youth. We invest in them and empower them precisely because they are our future. We believe that they are faster than us in acquiring and processing knowledge, because they have grown up with tools and techniques that we lacked at their age. We entrust them with driving our country to new levels of growth and development, which is why we have now appointed a cabinet minister of their age and created a special council of youth.

We have also learned from hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees in our region that sectarian, ideological, cultural, and religious bigotry only fuel the fires of rage. We cannot and will not allow this in our country. We need to study, teach, and practice tolerance – and to instill it in our children, both through education and our own example.

That is why we have appointed a Minister of State for Tolerance. We believe that a legal framework should formalize the tolerance our society already displays, and that our policies and initiatives will provide an outstanding example to our neighbors.

When the Arab world was tolerant and accepting of others, it led the world: From Baghdad to Damascus to Andalusia and farther afield, we provided beacons of science, knowledge, and civilization, because humane values were the basis of our relationships with all civilizations, cultures, and religions. Even when our ancestors left Andalusia, people of other faiths went with them.

Tolerance is no catchphrase, but a quality we must cherish and practice. It must be woven into the fabric of our society to safeguard our future and maintain the progress we have made. There can be no bright future for the Middle East without an intellectual reconstruction that re-establishes the values of ideological openness, diversity, and acceptance of others’ viewpoints, whether intellectual, cultural, or religious.

With every lesson we learn comes a decision that will shape our future. But we also know that we can learn by looking to the future, not just the past or present. Simply put, we must think of what life will be like in a post-oil economy. That is why we have invested heavily – more than 300 billion dirhams ($81.5 billion) – in establishing a focus for the UAE’s path ahead, with the aim of preparing for a diverse economy that frees future generations from dependence on the ever-fluctuating oil market.

Achieving that goal requires reconsidering our legislative, administrative, and economic system fully to move away from dependence on oil. We need a strong and appropriate regulatory infrastructure to build a sustainable and diverse national economy for our children and their children.
In writing this commentary, I want to send a clear message to others in our region that change happens by our hands only. Our region does not need a super-strong external power to stop its decline; we need the power from within that can overcome the hatred and intolerance that has blighted life in many neighboring countries.

I am writing to send a message that governments in our region and elsewhere need to revise their roles. The role of government is to create an environment in which people can achieve their dreams and ambitions, not to create an environment that government can control. The point is to empower people, not to hold power over them. Government, in short, should nurture an environment in which people create and enjoy their own happiness.

We are not new to this talk about the government’s role in promoting happiness. Since the dawn of history, happiness is all that humanity has sought. Aristotle said the state is a living being which develops in seeking the achievement of moral perfection and happiness for individuals. Ibn Khaldun said the same thing. Likewise, the United States Declaration of Independence upholds the pursuit of happiness as every person’s right.
In our own time, the United Nations is now calling for changes in the criteria used to measure governmental success from economic indicators to measures related to human happiness and wellbeing. It has dedicated the UN International Day of Happiness to emphasize the importance of this shift.

Focusing on happiness is both feasible and fully justified. Happiness can be measured, and its evaluation is already the subject of many programs and studies. Moreover, it can be developed and its achievement linked to material objectives. Studies have shown that happy people produce more, live longer, and drive better economic development in their communities and countries.

The happiness of individuals, families, and employees, their satisfaction with their lives and optimism for the future, are crucial to our work, which cuts across every sector of government. That is why there must be a minister to guide and follow up with all government institutions (as well as provide leadership to the private sector).

Ours is no empty promise. We will seek to create a society where our people’s happiness is paramount, by sustaining an environment in which they can truly flourish. And we hope our formula benefits others in the region. The formula is straightforward: national development based on core values, led by youth, and focused on a future in which everyone achieves happiness.

Adapted Project Syndicate.

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This was an article on Humanities Studies of Diverse Cultures.

Have a great day.
Jack Westin
MCAT CARS Instructor.
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19 Comments


  1. author is from UAE. recently the country appointed established Ministry of happy, youth, future and tolerance.
    this is a huge step for the country to build better infrastructure for the youth, for the future generations.

    Reply

  2. UAE = young + = future, tolerance important, govt should change + empower others, happiness good

    Reply

  3. UAE youth = growth for society
    Tolerance = must
    Government should empower happiness
    Happiness = crucial

    Reply

  4. Prosperous societies require empowering the people, and making them feel like they serve a purpose. Thus the UAE established the Ministry of Happiness, and other new ministries to ensure the tolerance of diverse cultures and the overall happiness of its citizens with the goal of pushing the UAE forward.

    Reply

  5. MI: energy and optimism of youth helps society grow
    MI2: tolerance promotes progress
    MI3: Governments should empower ppl + promote happiness

    Reply

  6. In order to move the Middle East forward, we must have the people govern themselves (or have government promote a happy and progressive environment) and the youth should be considered more.

    2 Questions

    1. Can I get some advice on whether or not my main idea sentences are good enough? Too narrow, too broad? (I try to write these almost immediately on scratch paper after reading the article – trying to practice as if it were on the real mcat)

    2. Should I be writing these out after each CARS passage? I try to make them short and tailored towards my shorthand, but I really like Deg’s and Syed’s idea of super short hand main ideas.

    Thanks

    Reply

  7. Author describes revisions to UAE government was to promote tolerance, investment, and happiness.

    Reply

  8. Young people are important. We must empower them. Government must promote happiness and tolerance.
    We should think about future independent from oil.

    Reply

  9. UAE invest in young = good future; tolerance = good; gov guide -> pursuit happiness

    Reply

  10. Theme: UAE has recently implemented changes to its government and hopes to be an exemplary example for its neighbors. Emphasis on developing and nurturing their youth so they will be better leaders and citizens to their country.

    Tone: Informative (Why….did we establish a Ministry of Happiness, Tolerance…did we appoint a 22-year old Minister of Youth) Positive, optimistic, motivational (encouraging other countries to follow their lead if they do succeed)

    Based on previous experience (learned form events in our region over the past five years) UAE wished to empower their youth who make up more than half of the populace so that societies can develop and grow. Author doesn’t give specific examples on how societies ae doomed to fail if they spurn their youth and block their paths to better lives.

    Author gives specific reasons on why UAE should empower their youth (faster than us in acquiring and processing knowledge….entrust them with driving our country) which justifies the appointment of a very young minister.
    Example of refugees explain why they should practise tolerance in their country and how to go about spreading tolerance (policies, initiatives and education). Their ancestors who left their homelands upheld beliefs had the support of people from other faiths. Tolerance involves being open to other cultures, religions and ideologies.

    UAE are preparing for a post-oil economy and future given the capricious nature and they strive to be independent form their natural resource (oil) and hope to build an economy that is not oil-driven (so they are prospective and forward-looking)
    They are aware of the pitfalls their neighbors have gotten themselves into (need power from within that can overcome the hatred and intolerance…) and hope to be a role model for hem (create an environment in which people can achieve….empower people…nurture an environment in which…)

    UAE is aware that these values are not theirs only but are shared (not new to this talk). Their focus on happiness is feasible and justified (linked to material objectives….happy people produce more, live longer…) Happiness has become an indicator of the country’s success and having a minister to guide and help attain this KPI for them.

    They hope their approach will lead them to success and ultimately inspire their neighbors to do the same.

    Reply

  11. (first 9 paragraphs) MIP: solve oil dependence w/ instilling tolerance into legislation and supporting youth; tone = neutral

    Reply

  12. Happiness is key to success. UAE’s government structure is to empower those who live in it, focusing on the youth, the future, and national economy.

    Reply

  13. Government, should empower the youth, nurture an environment in which people create and enjoy their own happiness.

    Reply

  14. national/area development = youth, tolerance, diversity, happiness

    Reply

  15. Government need to revise their roles = promote happiness. Youth and tolerance = important. Plan future = diverse economy.

    Reply

  16. MIP: Teaching youth tolerance is important and the key to success in Arab countries.

    Reply

  17. Youthfulness is paramount to upholding positive values such as tolerance and intellectualism

    Reply

  18. MP: governments should be tolerant and supporting of youth and there should be a focus on happiness for young individuals

    Reply

  19. MIP: Youth crucial to society growth/well being, Tolerance = important, Happiness = important measure for society + should be adopted , Tone = Optimistic

    Reply

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