Maira Kalman is an illustrator, author and designer whose last online column for the Opinion section, "The Principles of Uncertainty," ran from May of 2006 to April of 2007 and has been published as a book . She has written and illustrated 12 children's books , and her artwork is featured in a recent edition of Strunk and White's " Elements of Style ." She recently created a panel story for The Rosenbach Museum and Library's 21st-Century Abe Web project. Her work is shown at the Julie Saul Gallery in Manhattan. Ms. Kalman lives in New York City and teaches graduate courses in design at the School of Visual Arts. "And the Pursuit of Happiness," about American democracy, will appear on the last Friday of each month.
As mentioned earlier, the peculiar power by which a human being attains his end is through proper use of his reason and free will; it is through this potential that we achieve happiness. But reason and will are the source of human freedom, because we can know reality objectively and judge what ought to be done. So, while animals act on instinct alone, human beings have to exercise deliberative judgment. This choice is “right” if it conforms to the reality of human nature by maximizing wisdom and love, and wrong inasmuch as it departs from attaining wisdom and love. Liberty, then, is an ordered freedom, an exercise of choice for the sake of an objective notion of happiness. This is in stark contrast to how the right to Liberty has been interpreted in recent decades as an utterly unrestricted power. This is best exemplified in the notorious “mystery clause” from the Supreme Court’s 1992 Casey decision: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” If this were the liberty defended by the Declaration, we could never have formed a society at all. Correctly interpreted, liberty does not mean we can do anything at all ; it means that we can work toward happiness in a multiplicity of ways. Pace Justice Kennedy’s remarkable notion of liberty, man is not free to determine the nature of reality, especially the reality of human nature and the happiness that flows from it. Nevertheless, we do have freedom, for God has given different gifts to different people, and each must realize the vocation to which God has called him; our liberty lies in the ability to realize that for which we were created.