It Was Mother

It Was Make

It Was Make
Wayras Olivier

MAKE THE MOST of this declaration: the good life relies solely on positive thinking. Released right before the 2007 financial crisis was a documentary film called The Secret, wherein the public was introduced to the Law of Attraction. It takes a certain amount of temerity to monetize positive thinking. Happiness was equated with financial wealth, and laid out were the principles and mechanics of how to acquire it. Picture thought alone attracting from out of the universe decided objects for one’s own welfare. Giving people, in effect, “the freedom from want,” one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s high aims and hopes for mankind. The film, however, taught that abundance and happiness are positive rights, a cunning premise in contrast to the one in the American Declaration of Independence, which is much more forthright.

An unstable market or one’s inability to leverage luck or capitalize on chance (all of which are nearly irresolvable trials in timing) are never mentioned in The Secret as reasons why people are sometimes unable to affect their environment, or at minimum, their acumen and potential other than to say one’s negative thinking is to blame. Furthermore, should the Law of Attraction be likened to gravity, clearly an impersonal force, why suggest that its mechanics are personal to the point of being likened to a genie? Nothing specious about that, likening frivolous folklore to verifiable fundamentals of nature, along with the film’s theme, which hints bleakly that humans, rather than inhabiting Earth to give, exist only to receive.

Moreover, genies, if we indeed take The Secret’s premise seriously, appeal to the human personality at its most mercenary. Rhonda Byrne, the film’s auteur, is well aware of this, as are the human potential experts she empaneled to give testimony to her theory. Someone you know ever ask a genie to end ruinous oil spills; or the sex trafficking of minors; or the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria? A superior job and house, or stunning car are priorities much more urgent than you think. The aforementioned are not contingent, lest we forget, on the asker being worthy of such acquisitions or improvements, they need only be positive.

Also given to people who believe in the Law of Attraction is moral high ground because without it, being light-hearted or positive about disastrous situations would be unjustifiable. Here, then, is the masochistic appeal of the Law of Attraction: it’s unfalsifiable. In one’s life, should one ever notice a negative circumstance, the circumstance can be said to have been caused by one’s own negative thinking. Creating a closed loop scenario like the emperor’s new clothes, a mind in denial sees the current conditions of reality only positively: neither appropriately nor accurately, out of fear.

It really does present itself as theology, wherein one must avoid ever being in the vicious (if not vindictive) crosshairs of the Law of Attraction. One believes rape victims attract abuse because they’re negative; minorities attract bigotry because they lack gratitude; and that the Tutsis in Rwanda attracted genocide because they were “vibrating” on the same frequency as Hutu fundamentalists. The Law of Attraction, we might notice, seems to take on the less desirable traits of a primitive Abrahamic God when it reacts. Being shamed into perceiving reality in a ceaselessly glorified light—despite sporadic evidence of darkness—is the only way humans can atone for original sin. Attitudes must be enjoined by tickled cheeriness, and most notably, wide-eyed ignorance. A mind that is too sober or too critical is a form of insurrection, and reprisal from The Law of Attraction is justified.

Imagine hell on earth. Humans would first be vetted for negativity then qualified by the Law of Attraction as ne’er-do-wells, suitable for mass beggary, epidemics, and genocide. Point out this fatuity to the Law of Attraction acolyte and the response is generally meek and unlettered: no one deserves such retributions but the universe works in a mysterious way. Irony is lost on the person who says such a thing. Forgotten is their said standard of reasoning whenever they try to acquire wealth without work. Their being thwarted in their attempt to acquire abundance by using only positive thinking is itself just another example of the universe working in a mysterious way.

Still, the 2003 series on the subject of intention by Wayne Dyer—who was perhaps the world’s greatest public speaker at the time—declared to his audience that he would never get a serious illness because he doesn’t put negative energy out into the universe. I’d be remiss if I did not remind the reader of the great man’s passing from leukemia only a few short years later. Anyone who believes that this tragedy was the result of the universe responding to some latent or perhaps unconscious negative energy emanating from a clearly misguided Dr. Dyer has at best an infantile mind.

Foregoing theories of “one’s bad energy,” “one’s debt carried forward from a previous life,” or the even more reasonable “one’s poor life choices,” is The Pursuit of Happyness, which does not concern itself with the hermeneutics of why this inexplicable, sometimes intractable, yet enough-times irreversible thing called hardship falls. Chris Gardner, the film’s protagonist, is one such well-intentioned and properly motivated upon whom life falls down on mercilessly; with a deference for life as it is, he manages to stay up. Against that lesson, The Secret is a master class in propaganda.

Happiness, as a positive right, would be guaranteed as a government provision should an individual fail to attain it. And is why the founding fathers took great care in the American Declaration of Independence with this word—“right.” First and last, to pursue happiness citizens require negative rights, the absence of government interference. It can’t be second any more positively than that.