Since meaning is contextual, happiness is also contextual. A burqa-clad woman can be as happy seeing her kids as a Manhattan socialite is when she sees an oil tycoon.
What then is humanity working towards? What is considered progress, today? Why try and ban the burqa?
Progress of humanity is, factually, the divestment of meaning from anything which is dictated by others. "Nobody tells me what the meaning of my life is, I create it." This is the implicit goal of civilization. The various metrics in the UN HDR have this underlying theme.
There are indirect forms of control, but they are seen as progressive developments from an overt, violent form of control.
People who are relatively more astute reject not only the aggressive forces of traditional culture and morality, but also the modern, passive-aggressive forces of context (and hence goal, and meaning) creation: mass media, advertising, internet. They reject the goal not only of following the ten commandments, but of having a bigger car, the latest Gucci bag, and so on.
Progress is the movement from morality, to an understanding of morality, to amorality.
In Goenka Vipassana, you sometimes focus on a body region feeling pain, till the pain "dissolves". Similarly, an intellectual dissects a taboo which brings an emotional reaction till its emotional underpinning is understood and hence dissipated.
Actualism can be considered intellectual Vipassana.
‘Put simplistically (for maximum effect): the actualism method is about using thought to examine feelings’ (Richard, Actual Freedom, circa 2005).
(to be continued)