The “Law Of Attraction,” celebrated in the book The Secret, says that whatever we attract into our life whatever we put out. If we put out pure positive energy, practitioners say, we will attract happiness and success into our lives.
This is a very popular idea in “new thought,” part of a whole bundle of prosperity thinking concepts that become a trendy get rich quick scheme. After all, how can being more positive and attractive ever be a bad thing?
For me, doing the work means even engaging the unpleasant and challenging bits of our lives. Many people who work to stay “positive” do that by compartmentalizing off what they find as “negative” and difficult.
If our pure positive energy brings positive things into our lives, then do people who have negative things happening in their lives, like diseases or family problems, bring those things into their lives with their negative energy?
Are people facing challenges that we find distasteful to blame for their own problems? If we believe that we can solve problems by becoming positive, it isn’t much of a leap at all to decide that others have created whatever problems they have by being negative.
Thinking like this gives many a reason to put up a barrier between themselves and people who are facing challenges. It’s their own fault, they brought it on themselves, they must be toxic, unwilling to accept that we hold the true secret of happiness and success. They don’t deserve our empathy, they deserve our judgment and scorn until they get positive and clear of all their nasty, sick shit.
Much of the newage movement is concerned, as are so many other doctrines, with holiness markers, signs of where you are holier than the world.
Is a vegan more holy than a vegetarian, and is a raw vegan even holier than a regular vegan, for example? Is a rabbit holier than a tiger, because the rabbit is a vegan?
Is someone who gets arrested in a protest holier than someone who just goes, and are both of them holier than someone who stays at home caring for a sick aunt?
The Dirty Secret says this: It’s perfectly fine to judge people by their sickness, because whatever it is, they brought it on themselves. If you want to stay positive to attract positive, then putting up barriers between you and the negative isn’t only acceptable, it’s the holy choice.
The only way I know how to connect with other people is with an open heart. When I start by blaming them for their own challenges, their own sickness, that becomes almost impossible. When I define them by their sickness, saying that it shows their spiritual impurity, their rejection of the holy and blessed, then I put myself apart from them.
Everyone’s story is complex and nuanced. They are a product of their environment, their history, their biology, their choices. I have no idea how to separate those bits apart. They all just seem human to me.
Other people don’t make the choices that you make. Even if you make the choices that you make out of some spiritual belief system, their choices don’t make them less holy than you are.
Your choices may be the ones you see as holy, but imposing those choices on someone else makes you holier-than-thou, doctrinaire and judgmental. It celebrates separation and compartmentalization over connection and empathy. If you wouldn’t feel okay with others judging you unclean, sick and unholy, then it violates the Golden Rule.
There are few belief systems that show their teeth on the exterior. They are all expressed in positive and sanctified language, all shining with good intentions and promises of sweet salvation.
The Secret is no different, externally positive and nice. It’s just the flip side of saying that we deserve whatever we get where the dirty underbelly shows.