Encarta defines quality if life as:
Contentment with everyday life: the degree of enjoyment and satisfaction experienced in everyday life as opposed to financial or material well-beingThere are many other possible definitions, but they are all roughly the same. Quality of life is, by its nature, a deeply personal thing. What makes one person happy might not make another person happy. Some like shopping in speciality or boutique stores. Others like shopping in big-box stores. Some like biking and walking to work. Others like to drive to work. Some like a quiet hike in the woods. Others like four-wheeling or snowmachining. What place then do standards of "quality of life" have in the the public arena? Who is one person to judge what should constitute, within the law, happiness for another?
For example, someone may not care for my "cookie-cutter" house in Paradise Ridge, but it is the first home I have ever owned. It gives me great enjoyment and satisfaction. My relationship with God is an important part of my life. Why should it matter what the building I worship Him in looks like?
This week, I have been thinking about my own quality of life and catalogued some events this week that gave me enjoyment and satisfaction:
What does a particular store or style of architecture in a town have to do with any of that? What does the size of a town have to do with that? I'm sure people from Anatone to New York City enjoy life. If anything, if I had been able to purchase my son's sports equipment in Pullman, some of my tax money could have gone towards putting lights in at Thatuna Field, so the kids can play past 8 PM, instead of Moscow Parks and Recreation.
Barbecuing in my back yard Walking and talking with a friend on a beautiful sunny morning Holding my three-year old daughter in my arms as I watched my son play baseball on a perfect afternoon.
The only area I can see where quality of life and public policy might intersect is public safety and infrastructure (police, fire, electricity, water, etc.). If there was a threat of being mugged or burglarized, the things I mentioned above would not have been as enjoyable. But again, how does a particular store or style of architecture affect that?
Since quality of life is so personal and differs for everyone in the community, those who seek to foist their particular views of what brings happiness (trendy stores, "Manhattan-style" living, etc.) on to others are nothing more than petty dictators.
I'll examine this issue of quality of life more in the next few days.
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