Migrate for Happiness?

happyMelissa Cardoza, Period 2

When people from other countries think about the United States, they think of a place where there are opportunities and a chance for a better life. Some people in the United States only see this as immigration. Immigration is “the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country.”[1] People that move to the United States are thinking about having a better life and, therefore, seeking happiness. The wealth they could possibly gain is one of the greatest motives. Does moving to another country bring happiness?

The main cause for people to migrate is to obtain a better job leading them to gain wealth. Wealth is the amount of possessions or money that a person has. Happiness consists of having enough wealth to survive and live by not an excess amount, which can be what some people would like when migrating to another country. The reason for the need of wealth is to provide for a family, this includes a place to live and other necessities like food and clothing. As Aristotle words it, there is a “necessary art of wealth-getting which we have seen… to be a natural part of the art of managing a household… but having a limit.”[2] For a lot of people, it is a necessity to migrate because they cannot live in the country they come from. This could be because of the dangers or, like in most cases; it is because they do not have a job. Sometimes moving to another country is what is best for that family; there are more opportunities for jobs and the economy is better than in the poorer countries they come from.

Another part of increasing wealth is gaining property. “Those who do aim at a good life seek the means of obtaining bodily pleasures; and, since the enjoyment of these appears to depend of property, they are absorbed in getting wealth.”[3] There is a limit in the amount of wealth that is necessary and the wealth gained after that is for nonessential things. Before there can be pleasures with the wealth, the people need to have the essentials to life that include property or having a place to live, having food and shelter, and being healthy. Health is another reason many people migrate to the United States. The medical industry in America is much better than in a lot of other countries. A person needs to be healthy before they can enjoy other things in life. If wealth is what the people are in search for, it needs to be for the right reasons according to Aristotle. And if moving to another country will provide them with the wealth they need for their family, it is for happiness.

Another view of happiness is that of Utility, which says “the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are tight in proportion as they tend to promote happiness… by happiness is intended pleasure.” [4] In the end, the only important thing is that there is freedom from pain. Pain to some people is not having enough money to provide food and an education to their children. By having this view, Mill is agreeing with Aristotle in saying that happiness is providing for the household and if there isn’t enough wealth to do that, then migrating is the better option. Moving to another country could improve their wealth, which would remove the pain of which he is referring to.

There is also another part to Mill’s view that says a part of happiness is being “as rich as possible in enjoyments, both in point of quantity and quality”.[5] This doesn’t go with what Aristotle says because it is gaining as much as possible even after the person has what is necessary to provide for him and the members of his family. It is striving for the greatest amount of wealth to have the greatest amount of material things that leads to the greatest amount of happiness. Usually, when there is an excessive amount of wealth to one person, it is spent on material things. These things are unnecessary and the money spent of them could have been used to bring happiness to another person. By saying that the greatest amount of wealth is what will bring the most happiness, it doesn’t mean that people have to be selfish with all of the money they will make if they migrate to a country with a better economy. They could be thinking about others that are not them and their family they bring with them as well.

The utilitarian standard “is not the agent’s own greatest happiness, but the greatest amount of happiness altogether”. When Mill says this, he is saying that people do not only think selfishly when gaining wealth. The people that migrate do improve their lives. They are thinking about providing for their families a better life and sending money to those family member that are still living in the country from which they came from. He does say, “Utilitarian morality does recognize in human beings the power of sacrificing their own greatest good for the good of others”. The immigration of these people is for the greatest good because it is not only for the individual, but also for everyone else that individual is going to help by earning money with the job available in the other country. The migration would be to bring happiness for a larger amount of people therefore it would be beneficial.

It is very difficult to migrate from the country you were born to a completely new place. Leaving everything behind including family members is a very difficult decision to make. If a person does make this choice, it is because it is really a necessity for them to move; they are sacrificing for others. Although “a sacrifice… does not increase, or tend to increase, the sum total of happiness”[6] for the person doing the sacrificing, it does bring happiness to the others the person is doing it for. It is for the greatest benefit for the person to leave everything behind for their family because it will provide a better life and bring happiness to all of them. It is essential for them to move because the situation that they are in is not how they can live and their family cannot prosper. There aren’t able to have the “natural riches and the natural art of wealth-getting” that “in their true form they are part of the management of a household.”[7] These are the natural rights of a man that lead to happiness. If the rights were not possible in the country they live in, the decision to move would be very beneficial for the person and their family.

In conclusion, there is a way for immigration to lead to happiness. When a person migrates it is because there is a cause. The country from which they are leaving is not a place they are getting enough money to provide for themselves and their families. If they move, they are able to find a place to live and a job, which brings wealth. Wealth allows them to pay for the necessities of life for them and their families. There is,of course, a limit to the amount of wealth that allows them to live how they are supposed to. If they are able to have a better life and gain the wealth they need to keep their families healthy, this is what leads to happiness. Immigration can be happiness to the person migrating if their life improves.

[1] “Immigration.” Oxford Dictionaries. 2015. Accessed December 2, 2015. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/immigration.

[2] Aristotle. “The Politics.” In How to Find Happiness without a Free Lunch. ed. Bernardo Aparicio. Accessed 2015.

[3] “The Politics”

[4] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” In How to Find Happiness Without a Free Lunch. Bernardo Aparicio, 2015.

[5] “Utilitarianism”

[6] “Utilitarianism”

[7] “The Politics”


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