On “The Secret”

On The Secret
And other such bullshit.

The Secret is a book written by a bleached blonde with paint an inch thick telling the reader that if we wish hard enough, good things will happen. If we don’t work to attract good things, it’s our own damned fault.

The fans of The Secret fall into two categories:
Privileged, middle or upper-class, able-bodied people.
People with really low self esteem who want “ownership” of their misfortune.

There is nothing that causes me to fly so close into a rage in all the FB posts as the reinterpretation of, “FUCK YOU, it’s your own fault your life sucks.”

Don’t these people read the papers?

What fail of “the power of attraction” caused 3 little children to get run over by a drunken driver at the holiday concert this year? The earthquake in Haiti was perhaps brought on by people who didn’t want fortune enough?

Cuz Nancy Kerrigan totally chose to have her knee clubbed. Gawd.
All those little girls in the sex trade chose to become prostitutes; they didn’t really believe they were going to cleaning jobs.
People went to Boston not to watch their loved ones in the Marathon, but to get their legs blown off.
Well, just show them this:

There. That’ll get those lazy ass cripples out of bed. Now don’t you go blaming those Tsarnov brothers for your problems.
When that damned book comes up on conversation, people tend to be amazed that I dislike it. Didn’t I work my way through college? Don’t I KNOW the benefits of working for what you want?
Yes, I did, and I do. But I also know that as hard as person X works, it is no match for pure luck. You might be able to work your way through college, or think your way out of a problem. But you might not. And there’s another person who will never have to work his way through your problem, because he will never have it in the first place.
When I was working my way through college the first time, I cleaned houses. At one house there were five bathrooms to clean; the master bathroom, the one in the hall, and the bathrooms each of the three children had attached to the respective bedrooms.
The children were college-age, and I don’t think they ever learned my name; I was the cleaning lady.
One day over Christmas, the middle child was trying to bake cookies, and couldn’t figure out how to turn on her oven. So she asked the cleaning lady for help. She was quite pleasant about it, just entitled. And I got a chuckle out of it, little rich girl can’t even turn on her own oven; let’s see how SHE does in life.
Much later I realized that this little rich girl would never have to learn how to turn on her oven, because she would always have people like me to do it for her. She will never have to learn how to do this, and it will always get done.
The family is still rich, the parents are in the same house. But they have a different cleaning lady.
I have worked my way out of poverty. But this girl never had to work her way out of poverty. The stakes were much less for her. If she worked very hard she would get the career she wanted, and if she didn’t, she could live on her parents’ money as long as she felt like it.

One of the nifty things about The Secret, for the privileged, is that belief in it entitles wealthy people to pretend they were not lucky. And that the poor people deserve all they get.
If I worked very hard I might get out of poverty. But if I didn’t work very hard, I had no parents’ money to live off. And I might have worked hard but failed out of school, anyway. Or I might have had a car wreck in my three hour trip to college—if I had, I probably would not have been able to afford to go back.
As hard as I ever worked, I would never be as wealthy as she already was at 18 merely because of the family into which she was born. And even if I became wealthy, someday, I would never have the advantages of being born into financial security.
Some people work really hard but get into careers with too much competition, or at the wrong time. I went to Potsdam College, part of the State University of New York, which has an excellent sub-school, the Crane School of Music. Crane has turned out many excellent singers. World famous soprano Renee Fleming was about three years ahead of me. But that’s one singer, three years ahead of me, who is so famous, and Crane graduates hundreds of musicians every year.
I will not believe that every one of the less famous singers is less talented than Renee, or less hardworking. There was luck, good and bad, involved in who succeeded and who failed.
I won’t believe that she attracted good things because she willed them to happen.
I don’t believe that Tesla worked less hard than Edison, or that the nasty, vindictive Edison attracted luck because of some virtue in his soul.

And then, The Secret implies an omnipotence, a self-absorbed and toxic one. Not all, but certainly a great many, of my own problems are the result of being the most single mother I know. Not only is my husband dead, but 3 out of 4 of the grandparents (the remaining one is crazy in a nursing home) and 2 sisters in law, all of unrelated things. This means that where normally a single mother might have parents to share the load, or in-laws, I just don’t. I didn’t kill them looking for independence; they DIED.
Even if I subconsciously wanted to be independent and go it alone (and I can assure you I didn’t) my powers of distraction did not cause the horrible deaths of five close family members in 2 years, because not only do I NOT have those powers, IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT ME. And even if I wanted to be independent, (by which I mean alone with no one to help me) my little daughter did not want or deserve to see all those relatives die.
The universe is not hostile. It is indifferent. That’s scarier than hostile, I am told.

I don’t believe in The Secret, karma, or the Easter Bunny. I believe that The Secret worked for the writer, because it made her rich, and I believe that it was unethical for her to have preyed on people’s ignorance and hope the way she did.


One thought on “On “The Secret”

  1. Haha those relentlessly optimistic people annoy the hell out of me! It’s like they think if something totally minor goes wrong in your life and you don’t freak out, you’ve won, and for some reason totally minor problems are all you’re ever going to face. That’s the only way the whole “you can control your emotional reaction to everything and turn everything into a positive experience” would work. It’s so smug.


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