December 15th, 2014

Picard facepalm

New Agey victim blaming

There's this New Age belief (which often infects pagans too) that says, basically, that the universe wants you to be happy, and if you remove all negative thinking and BELIEVE hard enough, all your wishes will come true; or, at least, you'll become abundant.

Now, I do believe in magick, but I have several problems with that way of thinking. First, the world is more complicated than that. Magick, including prayer, can only do so much. It can influence the world in your favor, but it's a bit like nudging a speeding meteor so it just barely misses hitting the planet. Sometimes it works, other times the meteor hits you and it's back to clubs and spears. No matter how hard you try, sometimes magick just doesn't work. So the problem with that New Age philosophy of "the universe wants you to be happy," is that it contradicts the evidence. All the evidence is that the universe is in fact a cold, uncaring expanse of void spattered with matter and energy, that has laws of quantum physics that allow consciousness to influence the matter and energy in the universe, but only a tiny bit." Magick is basically 5%, maybe 10% the magick part, and 90% to 95% real-world hard work.

Second, the whole notion sounds very privileged to me, something obviously thought up by people who have had little or no experience with the real world, much less of being poor. And they get people to believe it either by those people also being very privileged, or by people being desperate to believe that if they believe hard enough, they can better their lot in life; people who need to have something to blame that they have no control over, when it fails. I know, because I used to believe that malarkey. I used it as a means of hope, I used it as an excuse for why it wasn't working, and thus I blamed myself for not trying hard enough when it didn't work. It may or may not have been intended to be victim blaming, but that's what it often is.

Third, it sounds suspiciously like the belief of many Christians that God rewards people He loves and approves of with material abundance/wealth, an idea that is mostly used to justify victim-blaming poor people. Like, "Oh you're homeless? You must be praying wrong, or to the wrong God." The same thing happens a lot with people who believe in karma. "Oh you're homeless, you must have been horrible to homeless people in a past life." It's a nice little way to deflect the realities of the world, and continue to live on in blissful ignorance, rather than taking a hard look at reality and recognizing that it takes a lot of hard work and compassion and understanding to make the world a better place. Which, frankly, is true even if karma is real. The people who blame the homeless person for being horrible to poor people in a past life are, in turn, being horrible to poor people in this life. But they're so caught up in victim blaming as a reality deflection tool, that they're not stopping to think that they may be setting themselves up for a hard life in their next life. Or maybe they don't care, since their current ego will be dead and they won't remember any of this. Either way, the result is the same: keep yourself in blissful ignorance, not bothering to put forth the effort to better the world, because hey, karma, so it's their fault they're poor.

Furthermore, that kind of thinking assumes some kind of universal Overmind that is capable of understanding and caring about human beings, in a universe that is unfathomably fucking enormous. The smallest electron in the smallest atom is closer in scale to our sun than our sun is to the local galactic supercluster, and the local galactic supercluster is to the universe at large as the electron is to the galactic supercluster. And that may well be a severe understatement. So it seems pretty absurd and egotistical to me to assume the univere's Overmind is even capable of noticing humans, much less of giving even a tiny speck of shit about us and our welfare. Now maybe there's - I dunno - some kind of local solar system Deity that can help people out, but even then, there are problems.

Because really, even if the universe (or the solar system deity) DOES want you to be happy, that doesn't change the fact that the rules of this universe prevent it from being a magical cure-all, so the result is the same: you have to recognize that 90% and stop thinking the 10% is all you need, stop blaming others for being victims of circumstance, and stop blaming yourself when things aren't going your way.

And like I told my roommate, who was also complaining about the same thing, a good thing to say to people who say that kind of bullshit is "Oh, so I take it you think the victims of the Holocaust asked to die horrifically by Nazi hands? What about the victims of other genocides? Or ebola patients that die? What did the millions of First Nations people who died because of European invaders do to deserve that? Are you telling me that the slaves imported from Africa called that upon themselves?" Because there's only one of three possible reactions to that: 1. "Holy shit, you're right! I'm wrong!" 2. "Of course not! [Insert some convoluted logical labyrinth to attempt to plug the logic hole.] or 3. "Yes, they did."

I can't speak for y'all, but the only people of those three options that *I* want to be spending any more time with are the ones who realize that they were wrong.

This was cross-posted from
You can comment either here or there.

My tweets