I read Oscar Wilde’s short story The Happy Prince when I was a kid. Many people have heard of this story of the happy prince and a sparrow. The happy prince sacrificed his body to help poor people. It was a refreshing shock to me as a young reader. Time has passed by since then and I am reminded of the story of The Happy Prince while looking at people as times have become increasingly tougher in a society of mammonism.
There existed an enormous statue named the Happy Prince. The statue stood tall at the center of the city where everyone could see. People cherished and praised the Happy Prince no matter where they were. In the meantime, a sparrow was flying towards the warm southern city. The sparrow was incidentally resting under the Happy Prince and saw tears coming from the Prince. The Prince was silently looking down at the city and endlessly crying for people struggling in poverty, compared to the extravagance of the rich. As a favor to the Happy Prince, the sparrow took a ruby decoration from the hilt as well as the Prince’s sapphire eyes and delivered them to the poor people. As the cold winter came, the sparrow eventually gave up leaving for the south and stayed by the Happy Prince. He kept delivering the gold pieces that covered the body of the Prince to the people. The sparrow finally died at the bottom of the Happy Prince on a cold day. The statue became tacky and hideous. It was removed and the city council melted down the Happy Prince. However, the broken heart of the Happy Prince did not melt in the fire. The abandoned heart and the sparrow went up to the sky by an angel from God. They lived happily ever after in the sky.
I would like to take the meaning of true happiness from this story of the Happy Prince. Even though it was named Happy Prince, the life of the Happy Prince was not happy. True happiness was his wish that everyone could become one, not having a separation between the poor and the rich. What the Prince could do was give out his body parts in the hope that the city could become happy. The Happy Prince would be truly happy when his city was happy.
Of course, happiness through materials is distant from our nature. Our nature, that is our origin, would be the life itself that is non-material and living that existed even before any material was created. When we become one with our origin, going beyond materials, our mind will be living, peaceful and silent no matter which circumstances we face. This would be true happiness, wouldn’t it?
Although people in the city looked at the statue of the Happy Prince that was always standing magnificently, they only admired it vaguely but did not know what true happiness was. With the sacrifice of the Happy Prince statue and a sparrow, poverty was overcome and people’s minds became balanced with the whole. Everyone’s mind becomes one, not in a material way. Wouldn’t it be a message of true happiness for today’s people whose minds have become as tough as ever?
The Happy Prince already had an everlasting heart that did not even melt in fire. That’s why he could have selflessly sacrificed for everyone’s happiness with his everlasting and never-changing heart.
True happiness already exists at the center of our heart. It is just hidden by materialism. We should recover our original mind rather than caring too much about tangible materials. Don’t we also have to meet the happy self by becoming the true mind, like the never-changing heart of the Happy Prince?