THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
By Dave Harrison
As a lifelong "positive thinker" I read Words Create, by Sonia Choquette, and First Class Expectations, by Alan Cohen, (In Light Times, January, 2002) with genuine interest. Ms. Choquette and Mr. Cohen seem to subscribe to the age-old belief system suggesting that each of us, by our thoughts and desires, creates the world in which we live, i.e., that we are 100% in control of and responsible for the rewards and/or misfortunes that befall us on a daily basis. Once upon a time, long ago, I too believed. Although such a belief system appears inspirational and empowering, it more accurately presents a blurred reality. While each of us may influence the world in which we live (realigning our behavior by cogitation and affirmations), the only aspect thereof that we are fully in control of and responsible for is the manner in which we perceive the world, thus our attitude and actions (a sort of proactive re-activeness). The feel-good examples offered by Ms. Choquette and Mr. Cohen avoid the other side of the coin, where lay persuasive, if provocative, reasons underpinning my opinion that the age-old belief system is erroneous.
The age-old belief system clings to such gossamer notions as every person gets what he or she deserves, that the world is fair (of course, the world is precisely as she should be, regardless of the misperceptions of humans), and that bad things do not happen to good people. A few examples from the other side of the coin convincingly dispel such blurred tenets: a child kidnapped and raped; a grandmother beaten into a coma by a burglar; volunteers returning from administering to the diseased and dying are themselves slaughtered by a drunk driver; the family on picnic gunned down by some psychopath; and what of every victim of the September 11th, 2001, terrorists attack? Are we to believe that the "subconscious mind" of a child created such horror? No. Do we accept that -- to a person -- the victims of the Twin Towers destruction held a "hearts desire" to perish then, there and in that manner? No. Nor is my bodily incarceration the result of "universal agents", but the result, pure and simple, of corrupt state agents (a conviction of which I am 100% innocent of and which remains on appeal, with the rogue agents under the most intense scrutiny). There are, indeed, those individuals who live on the edge and tempt fate. And sometimes fate wins. But I write of the innocents who have no "subconscious mind" or "hearts desire" to create such intimate calamities. Moreover, to suppose that an individual can control the world's events and to impose upon him or her responsibility for such events fashions that individual as omnipotent, a perfect being. A God. As great and expansive as our powers are, and may yet become, we remain, humbly, human. It is true that I hold admiration and respect for the qualifications, experiences and wisdom of both Ms. Choquette and Mr. Cohen, but believe, nonetheless, that the age-old belief system is, speaking romantically, antiquated; candidly described as erroneous. Not every person gets what he or she deserves, fairness has no place in the mix, and bad things do happen to good people (bypassing, for now, any discussion as to subjective interpretations of words such as "bad" and "good"). This is a positive view, because it brings clarity to an otherwise blurred reality.
While we may influence the creation of the world in which we live, we only have absolute control of and responsibility for how we perceive the events that manifest our world (Shakespeare was fond of saying that "Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."), the attitudes we choose to form as a result of those events, and the actions we ultimately take. Only in such clarity can there be true inspiration and empowerment.