I never thought I would see the day where the most powerful African American woman on the planet and the worst President that the United States has ever seen would have something in common. But “The Secret” seems to bond Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Bush, both of whom are, in their own and different ways, out of touch with real people.
Let’s talk about “The Secret” first. It is the newest self-help manifesto that is currently topping the bestsellter lists. It espouses a “philosophy” that its website states is the great secret to the Universe. According to the website- “The Secret” has been passed throughout the ages, traveling through centuries… to reach humankind and is the secret to unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth: everything you have ever wanted. WOW! The secret to the Universe- I guess they interviewed God. No need for universities to teach philosophy and science, no reason for theology either. It took the skills of an Australian talk-show producer (Rhonda Byrne) to distill the complexities of these disciplines and give us the answers!
According to “The Secret”- One spring day towards the end of 2004, Rhonda Byrne discovered a secret – the secret laws and principles of the universe. It goes on to say, “The Secret” transformed the lives of every person who ever knew it… Plato, Newton, Carnegie, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Einstein.
What is this miracle- this enlightenment – that has alluded explanation by philosophy teachers throughout history but came to the great wisdom of a TV producer like Buddha sitting under a Bodhi tree? It is visualization! The GREAT revelation is that people only need to visualize something in order to get it. You mean to tell me that Plato couldn’t have said this millennia ago and we could have put an end to academic and theological work on understanding human nature, the Universe and God? Gee- I guess we can all be Buddha now – but of course millionaire Buddhas because a lot of the shameful marketing of this drivel is being hawked primarily as a way for people to achieve their financial dreams.
Plato, Leonardo, Shakespeare. et. al. must be spinning in their graves at the idea that garbage philosophy like this has the effrontery to include their names. I had visions of the great geniuses of human history sharing a bottle of Chardonnay while sitting in a Marin hot tub discussing their secret after a day of past life regression therapy! How dare anyone misuse the complexities of true genius to market this shameful trash.
Oprah has devoted two shows to “The Secret “. Oprah writes this about “The Secret” on her Web site, “the energy you put into the world — both good and bad — is exactly what comes back to you. This means you create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day.”
In a scathing indictment of “The Secret” and Oprah’s involvement in an article on Salon.com, Peter Birkenhead writes-
“But what really makes “The Secret” more than a variation on an old theme is the involvement of Oprah Winfrey, who lends the whole enterprise more prestige, and, because of that prestige, more venality, than any previous self-help scam. Oprah hasn’t just endorsed ‘The Secret’; she’s championed it, put herself at the apex of its pyramid, and helped create a symbiotic economy of New Age quacks that almost puts OPEC to shame. Why venality? Because, with survivors of Auschwitz still alive, Oprah writes this about ‘The Secret’ on her Web site, “the energy you put into the world — both good and bad — is exactly what comes back to you. This means you create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day. Venality, because Oprah, in the age of AIDS is advertising a book that says, that you cannot ‘catch’ anything unless you think you can, and thinking you can is inviting it to you with your thought. Venality, because Oprah, from a studio within walking distance of Chicago’s notorious Cabrini Green Projects, pitches a book that says, “The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts.”
I guess you can take this to a more insidious level – as if there is a more insidious level- and say that the reason that chaos and mayhem are occurring in Iraq is because the Iraqi people aren’t visualizing peace, prosperity and a quaint Arabesque United States I am “visualizing” a new theme park- Islamo Disney- Mickey Mouse wearing a Bisht and a Ghutra and a new ride called “Pilgrimage to Mecca”.
I wonder if Mr. Bush a devotee of ‘The Secret”? He seems to think that if he visualizes success in Iraq int will happen. Maybe the problem is that the Iraqi people haven’t been visualizing along with him! Mr. Bush’s policy to deal with the Hurricane Katrina disaster was right out of “The Secret”. He just visualized a “new” New Orleans. The problem is that none of the rest of us can see it.
It seems that Mr. Bush relies on the same idiocy that Oprah is hawking. He doesn’t develop strategies and policy to successfully implement anything, he just visualizes them.