Not Just Fluff -- Downright Evil

So.

Apparently, the latest bestseller in the "Self Help" section is some piece of repulsive twaddle called "The Secret", which, based on summaries I've seen here and there, claims that all you need to be successful is to want to be successful, that you 'attract' wealth to yourself by thinking about money, or that you drive it away by thinking about poverty. Well, it certainly has worked for the author, who is currently raking it in.

Now, I am the kind of guy who believes in letting people suffer the consequences of their own stupidity. If there's people gullible enough to fall for this crap, let 'em. "All men have the right to dig their own graves; I have the right to sell them the shovels", says Lizard.

However...I also reserve the right to call people on their evil. If you are actively leading people to harm, as opposed to merely letting them suffer the consequences of their own self-generated folly, you are evil. You may be acting within your rights -- surely, no one should be banning self-destructive 'advice' -- but you're still evil.

A philosophy which teaches that failure is a consequence not of bad reasoning or bad choices or bad luck, but of insufficient desire or faith, is an evil philosophy. It cripples and kills. It teaches people that if Bad Things happen to them, it's because they aren't good enough or strong enough or devout enough. I've seen this happen to Christians who were raised to believe that faith is all they needed, that if the burdens kept piling up and they couldn't take it, it was because their faith was weak, that what they needed was to just trust God more.

Now, if you limit this utter nonsense to, as one example put it, finding a parking spot, it's merely snicker-worthy. But people buying this tripe aren't looking for parking lots -- they're looking for life success, and, when they don't get it, what will happen? Will they look at their plans, their investments, their actions, their deeds, try to figure out what went wrong, and change it? Or will they berate themselves for not being 'positive' enough, for not 'believing', as if belief could ever, in isolation, accomplish anything?

Self-esteem is both cause and consequence. Of course, you must believe you can accomplish something before you try it -- but such a belief must be based on past accomplishments. Progress comes from small successes leading to larger ones, from learning from failures, from accepting blame when it is your fault and not accepting it when it is not, and from understanding that we all live in a reality which is not at all amenable to simple desire. Desire is an impetus for action, nothing more, and without action, nothing happens.

I'm not going to lose weight by not looking at fat people -- a suggestion the book actually makes. I'm going to lose weight by looking at my calorie intake and going to the gym. If I fail, it's not because I didn't think positively enough; it's because I made bad choices and am now suffering the consequences.

I would love to see the author of this drivel go to a refugee camp in Darfur, and tell the people there -- the starving, the maimed, the raped, the destroyed -- that they caused all this suffering, that they 'attracted' this harm to them, and if only they had thought more positive thoughts, it would never have happened. Tell them they can will themselves out of the camps simply by imagining that they are no longer in them.

I'd be happy to supply a few good feet of hemp rope to each and every inhabitant of those camps, for use after the speech.

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