Tuesday, March 13, 2007     « White House II »


But what is truly sinister about the positivity cult is that it seems to reduce our tolerance of other people's suffering. Far from being a "culture of complaint" that upholds "victims", ours has become "less and less tolerant of people having a bad day or a bad year", according to Barbara Held, professor of psychology at Bowdoin College and a leading critic of positive psychology. If no one will listen to my problems, I won't listen to theirs: "no whining", as the popular bumper stickers and wall plaques warn. Thus the cult acquires a viral-like reproductive energy, creating an empathy deficit that pushes ever more people into a harsh insistence on positivity in others.

- from "Pathologies of Hope" by Barbara Ehrenreich in Harper's (Feb 07)

Take a look at this fantastic article pointing to the folly of North America's over-zealous positive-thinking industry. Ms. Ehrenreich's criticism is filled with lots of insightful quotes, however beyond the conflict with reality posed by concepts like "manifesting [insert your choice of money, power, happiness]" or the cultish fanatacism inherent in what is fundamentally a money-making industry that equates money with success (and what road does that lead us all down?), I elected to post the quote above because it cuts to the heart of why the Cult of Positivity is a big fat negative for humanity.

I don't love to be around people who consistently wallow in a deep pit of self-pity and fatalism either. I believe in personal choices and responsibility. I also believe that shit happens and that we don't all start out on an equal footing. This rush to fill up the world with a constant stream of happy happy joy joy presents a profound disconnect with reality and an overall feeling of alienation and intolerance that is alarming. And furthermore, it's really easy to see through people who subscribe to this cult. They seem to think they are a strong beacon of light in a dark world but they always come off as one-dimensional, phony, and as shiny as a sugar-glazed donut.

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