Tuesday, August 16, 2011
DOWN WITH POSITIVE THINKING! (Part 1)
I watched a television documentary about Thin Lizzy, the legendary 70s Irish rock band. Hidden amongst the bombast and excess relived by the various survivors came my favourite moment. Midge Ure (now more comfortably proportioned than in his cool, stick-thin youth) rather bizarrely perhaps once toured
This reminded me of one of the curses of our time; the cult of positive thinking. Positivism, applied generally, for instance to inform policy or direction in governments and organisations etc, may well make fine practical sense. And cheery good-humour can be pleasant enough in the right context. But all too often the insistence on positive thinking goes far beyond cheerfulness, and is used as a whip to crack over the backs of individuals, forcing onto them a harsh, relentless sense of perpetual external judgement. I fear for anyone I hear saying something like ‘I know I can win/do/achieve this, all I have to do is believe!’ If they really mean that, then what happens to their world if they don’t succeed?
I prefer to take the advice of Quentin Crisp, who said, rather wonderfully, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.’ What’s wrong with understanding your own limitations - we all have them, after all - and then choosing to make a strength of them? There’s a sort of relaxed kindness in that approach that seems much more humane. Midge Ure certainly seemed to be one of the happier individuals featured in that Thin Lizzy documentary.
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