Rational Religion

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The Power of Negative Thinking


Since we have (hopefully) established that just about everything going on in your head is purely imaginary, I trust that the old "Power of Positive Thinking" notion is pretty well rooted in your consciousness.


All you have to do is convince yourself that you can do it (whatever) and apply the necessary intelligence and energy and... voila!


Of course it's never quite that simple, and most of your achievements will only approximate your original vision; but there is a great deal to be said for just keeping on keeping on.


Although you fall far short of your goal, you will almost always wind up a long ways ahead of where you started.


Just a little bit of optimism; only enough to keep you slogging along in a gently upward direction; can produce eventually wonderful results.   Just get yourself into some productive game; higher education; investment; public service; sports; the arts; sciences; professions; your choice.  Follow the rules of the game; connect all the dots and complete all the strategies and you have a better than average chance of becoming somebody worthwhile; even happy.


But it is work; and there is competition.


So, we need to look at the other side of the proposition, which is downhill all the way.


Only the tiniest morsel of negativism can sabotage the whole program. 


All you have to do is suspect that you can't do it; or worse, that you are somehow not supposed to try; and your whole effort is on its way down the tubes.


This is where family and community environment; and your own self-image; come so vitally into play.


The worst enemy is the whole ghetto dynamic, where poor people with low expectations create a psychological trap for themselves and each other.


Lord knows the dominant culture is not always admirable nor something to aspire to; but there are ways of living which can evade both the trap and the rat race above it.


And demonizing the rat race is not the way out of the trap.   The rat race is just the matrix of a society which can supply some of the world's goodies in return for adapting to a few fairly simple rules. 


Be responsible; get an education; avoid criminality and crippling addictions.  Expect rough times but muddle through them as intact as possible.


 "Good" ghetto kids have to run a gauntlet of their peers; those peers trapped by their own inability to imagine a life outside the trap, and so resentful of anybody else's effort to escape.


They also have to negotiate the larger society's prejudices and low expectations.  It's a double-whammy and sometimes it feels like your head is in a nutcracker.   But try to remember; all that stuff is other people's problems.


Nobody has to accept anybody else's assessment of one's talents, abilities or prospects.    So other people's opinions of who you are are spit.


Just factor in the logical, ethical way to behave and do it.


There are no guarantees that you will make it -- out of the trap and into the race; or above and beyond both, which is the real goal. 


And god will not come to your rescue, though some good people might.


But your life will have a chance to have meaning: for other people and for yourself.