I owe my skepticism to the cynicism I’ve gained from my personal realities. At least, that’s where it started from. But I’ve always had a problem communicating with some people that I’m not this pessimistic character aimed at depressing others. Some particular members of my family think I’m always angry at something. I might get heated about some discussion and then they might jump at me and say, “why are you so angry?” And then the conversation turns onto that and I’m trying to convince them that I’m not angry while I’m getting angrier by the moment as they assure me that I am!
These particular family members are from the school of ‘positive thinking’ which dictates that if you discuss controversy or argue for something that you believe that differs with their belief, you’re being difficult, are wanting to make them unhappy, and generally, ‘negative’. I even have a hard time using the terms ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ in varying contexts without being interpreted as meaning either ‘half-cup full’ or ‘half-cup empty’. For instance, if I say that I’d like to put forth a positive argument for something, I get something like, “Why do you have to be so argumentative? Nothing positive can come from that!” And no matter how much you try to convey a different definition then what sits in their minds, they force you to bend to their use of the word leaving you with a loss of vocabulary to choose from without great effort.
Although it may not be thought of as religion, to me it seems that a lot of the positive thinking movements are just that. I can’t say ‘but’ with one relative because she seems to think that it means “and contradictorily” rather than “and contrarily”. I probably overuse the word sometimes, but without it, I feel stilted and convey agreement when I don’t. When I was young, a friend and I attempted not to use the word, “should” in our conversation for the rest of a day and found it interesting and useful on the psyche. I don’t totally disagree with positive mentality if you impose it on yourself for practical purposes. But it’s hard to hear things from loved ones telling you that Amway or Stephen (Steve) Covey, or Anthony (Tony - like they know them intimately) Robbins warned them of the negativity of others and that they must close them out of their lives completely. And never, ever, can you dis’ their leaders!
I think that much of today’s religions have learned to inoculate the flock by teaching this positive psychology and assuring them that people like atheists are simply useless to argue with due to their negativity and that the best course of action is to ignore them. Religious books against the “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett are exemplary of this persuasion. Their arguments are encouraged to be overlooked for motives and personalities instead.
Well, my coffee mug is 100% empty now so I’ve gotta go for a refill. Anybody else have some insight?