So I just watched The Secret with my dad, and he's been trying to get me to watch it with him for about a year now, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to make him happy. After we finished the movie, I couldn't help but feel both skeptical and a little intrigued, because it made a few really good points. I don't know if I feel like I can believe that all of the people I've known who have died of cancer, lost their jobs, or had awful relationships brought it upon themselves by not understanding their thought processes, but I can definitely get down with this whole "when you focus on the negative, it gets the attention" thing. I think this definitely applies to feminism.
As feminists, we talk alot about how things are and how they should be. We talk about how elementary schools and pre-school programs are already coding children with social expectations and gender norms, how men are still making seventy five cents to the dollar, how the pro-life movement gives us all indigestion and the quiverfull movement makes us angry, anxious, and confused all at once. We talk about the sexists, the racists, the bigots, and everyone who stands in the way. We talk about the patriarchy, advertising, consumerism, and female sexuality in the media. These are all important issues and they are all relevant to our cause, but this movie really made me start to think about how much of my thoughts are spent on the things that I really don't like about society and how few are spent imagining society the way I wish it was and the way I think it could be.
I'm not saying that educating people who aren't already aware of these issues isn't worthwhile, because it's hard to get people to understand the urgency of change when they don't think change is necessary. As an activist I almost see The Secret's focus on thinking positively as a challenge. How can I channel all of my passion about conflicts, prejudice, and societal norms into a positive vision for the future? Is it possible to be, instead of anti-war, pro-peace? How can I turn aversion for the Palestine-Israel conflict, proposition 8, and Fox News into positive and affirming future realities? Is that even possible?
I started thinking about how much time I spend talking to my friends about all of the things in the world that stress me out and upset me, and how most of my plans and visions are focused on eradicating something I don't like. According to this movie, because I am focusing on something I don't like (even though I'm focusing on ending it) that thing will still remain because it is my focus. So how do I change my way of thinking to be positive? Take for example the Quiverfull movement. There are too many things to list about this stuff that make me upset and anxious, so I won't, but the point is, how do I focus on a positive reality apart from the Duggars? I think the answer is to think of a reality without that option, such as, households where the mother and father are equal and loving, where birth control is used as a result of education, and where loving and unbiased attitudes are encouraged as a part of a conscious lifestyle.
I don't know how much merit The Secret has, but I do think that in the area of positive thinking it can offer activists a challenge to stop focusing on the negative areas that they are fighting against, and instead focus on a world where those things do not even exist and then make that world a reality. I can't hurt, can it?