Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Self-Help idiocy

There are some worried that the new piece of pop self help non-sense "The Secret" is producing a blame the victim mentality.

The mantra of the book is "ask, believe, receive." It is based on the idea that there are laws of attraction, and that like attracts like. This is idiotic. Does the rape victim want to be raped an therefore attracts the rapist? Of course not.

The self help industry is truly American in that it peddles a lot of easy answers to complex questions. It is also insidious in that it tricks a lot of ignorant people into thinking that the problems in their lives can be fixed with positive thinking, meditation, or wishing them away. In America we are taught to have a certain aversion to suffering and hardship. If you are hungry, you eat; cold, put on a sweater; not satisfied with your wide, divorce her. We cannot fathom that people would fast out because of religious beliefs. We can not grasp the dignity of suffering.

Yes friends there is dignity in suffering. It is an act that is so human because it is not only inescapable, but also illustrates that as rational creatures we can endure. It is an irrational act with much meaning. A good Epicurean man would commit suicide at the first hint that his pleasures were subsiding.

People want easy answers and a simple solution to life. Well here is the best answer I can give to how life works:

"Life is suffering, but is is also pleasure and joy. You must take the good with the bad. There are no simple answers because the world is not simple. We will all suffer. Some will suffer more and some less. Still, that does not mean that one who suffers less has a better life or is some way more valuable than the other. The child with Down Syndrome will probably have a less full life than a genius. That does not mean that their life is worth less or is somehow on a lower level than that of Einstein. They are as beautiful, perhaps more beautiful, than the greatest minds of man. They will see the world forever in ways most will never know. They may never cure cancer or drink deeply from Shakespeare, but they learn the most important lesson: the simple pleasures of life are the best. We will all hurt and grieve, but God loves us and is not ignorant of our plight. All he asks is a short period of endurance with the promise of an eternity of freedom. Seize the day, the world is a ugly and beautiful place. Stop worrying about your personal pain, fulfillment, or hang ups and put the world in its proper perspective. Be happy and let not your heart be troubled. The richest and happiest man on earth will go to his grave with regrets, pain, and hurt. Just enjoy what you have."