The Positivity Movement is a Malignant Cancer as it Currently Is
Most of us know that thinking positively can help improve our physical and mental condition, up to a point, but that’s as far as it goes. Especially if we don’t consider many things that can’t be changed by simply thinking positively: socioeconomic standing, racism, colorism, sexism… terminal and chronic illnesses that require treatment beyond positive thoughts.
I’m sure many of you have seen the memes, the cute slogans brands and influencers use, the disinformation promoted by questionable characters that collect your data when you land on their page after being pulled in by a clickbait “according to science you can completely change your life by thinking positively!” But there’s a dark side to this: ableism, classism, racism, you name it. The lack of nuance is lucrative and criminal.
People who are chronically depressed can’t simply think their way out of it. It can even do the opposite intended. Many truly do need medication. In fact, one of the worst things you can tell someone who is depressed is to just see life with a positive outlook—that it is all in their head. Lots of times it is a chemical imbalance that they have and, even more likely, society is to blame.
We live in a pretty shitty world—where we work, where we live, the family dynamics we’ve inherited can’t just be easily replaced by something more accommodating. No matter how much you persevere and are relentless in trying to achieve your goals, there are numerous powerful outside forces that will come in direct collision with them: people with their own goals, responsibilities, human-made hierarchies… Hierarchies created by colonialism, by imperialism, by white supremacy, by the patriarchy, and by a capitalism that has us all in a trance. A trance perfectly described by “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” A phrase some attribute to John Steinbeck and others to Ronald Wright. Kurt Vonnegut’s take is even more depressing:
American humorist Kin Hubbard said, "It ain't no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be". The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?"
Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue... Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.
Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
People can’t just lift themselves out of poverty if they simply think positively. Anyone who promises you change if you follow some simple steps without breaking down many powerful social issues is simply a grifter. You can become financially literate and still be poor. Being poor is not a character flaw. The entire world is, from top to bottom, a caste system. So someone with a darker skin tone in India or the United States can’t just work hard and think their way out of being at the bottom of the socioeconomic pole. It is extremely hard to be upwardly mobile. Most people remain within their social status: rich or poor. In fact, the middle class is quickly disappearing—and not to become rich. Most people across the world are losing their wealth, or not gaining any, except for a small amount of filthy rich people. And, believe, you can’t will yourself out of your place in society unless we collectively either vote for our best interest or dethrone the rich and powerful completely. If thinking positively was the key then hundreds of millions of people would be well-off right now. Reading Rich Dad Poor Dad ain’t it, folks. I’m sorry. That book has done more harm than good. I don’t care if that person you admire so much swears by it. They’re lying to you.
We certainly can’t smile at racism, colorism, sexism, and homophobia and hope they’ll disappear. The same goes for any other ism and other serious medical conditions.
The positivity movement is so prevalent, so influential, that it has infiltrated most places: orgs, events, retreats, schools, fields, other movements, even church. Anyone who has come in contact with the prosperity gospel should know. God doesn’t punish or bless anyone based on their thought patterns or simply because they’re chosen for some arbitrary reason.
Oh, but you can definitely enjoy a lucrative career in those fields if you are a charismatic psychopath who scams rich people and people in need out of their hard-earned money. People don’t become filthy rich by working really hard, by the way. They most likely did by exploiting others. Anyway, there are a few conditions that can make anyone upwardly mobile and shower them with material goods and those conditions have a lot to do with your parents’ socioeconomic standing, your social capital, your race, your gender, your sexual preference.
Many celebrities who were poor once love to swear by positive thinking, but they do so after they’ve become rich and famous through getting an opportunity that isn’t given to most people. They just use that as an excuse to not pass the torch: you don’t have enough ganas to make it, you just aren’t thinking positive enough…
It’s all a lie.
Just like thoughts and prayers aren’t enough to cure the problems we face today, positive thinking alone won’t do much either.
We must act to change the world.
Thanks for reading and sharing with your family and friends.
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