Positivity Is Overrated

It’s been a lot longer than I intended since my last post. Threw my back out while working out. In many ways, being 50 sucks. Except for not being such a dumbass as when I was young. That’s worth a fair bit of physical pain. Anyway…

With apologies to Eric Idle, I’m getting heartily sick and tired of being told to always look on the bright side of life. As the latest of instance of this, not long ago, I was involved in a conversation about 80s music. One of the people in the conversation then went off on a nostalgic tangent about how she wished she was back in the 80s, when life was safe, easy, and wonderful. Are you mad, I said? Did you sleep through the entire decade, I asked? The “me” decade? The “greed is good” decade? What about the constant fear of imminent nuclear annihilation? What about the then-new AIDS epidemic? What about the severe economic inequality, the rampant racism and homophobia, and the social unrest? What about the obsessive materialism that permeated society at all levels?

“Ah, you’re just being negative,” I was told. “Of course things are going to seem bad when you focus on the bad things. Just look at the good things and you’ll feel much better about stuff.”

OK. I suppose that’s true. But so the hel what? As a heathen, that approach to life seems childish and irresponsible to me. Heathens are supposed to value responsibility and truth. Pretending that unpleasant things don’t exist is not being truthful. And if you refuse to see bad things, you do nothing to stop those bad things from happening, which is an abdication of personal responsibility.

The world seems to be dealing with much of the same crap that it was dealing with in the 80s. As the pandemic has shown, the “me” decade has given rise to selfishness and callousness on a whole new level, one willing to sacrifice the lives of children, the elderly, and the infirm in the name of some twisted mockery of the idea of individual liberty. Economic inequality is even worse than it was in the 80s. Greed is not only considered good, it is the sole animating principle of far too many in federal and state governments across the country. And how did we get to this sorry state of affairs?

By people deciding that they didn’t want to think about things that made them feel bad, and who decided to concentrate only on the good things instead. By people selfishly putting their own comfort and peace of mind above everything else.

I know that these are tough times. It can be difficult to think beyond your immediate comfort when you have to deal with so much difficulty for so long. But if we don’t, these tough times will never end. Just look at states like Florida if you want to see what happens when people put their own desire to feel good above everything else. So very many preventable deaths. So much needless suffering. And the state is no closer to ending its pandemic than it was a year ago.

Few things do more harm than always being positive.

If we want things to change for the better, we need to see the negatives, and do something to change them. So please, when it comes to making decisions that can affect the people around you, try to show some compassion, some care, and some personal responsibility. These days, doing so includes doing the following things: Get vaccinated. Wear masks around others. Wash your damn hands. And try not to be an enormous dick.

2 thoughts on “Positivity Is Overrated

  1. Hildaodinsbjorn says:

    On point as always, Wayland. This reminds me of the people I have encountered who want me to only write happy lyrics. Music is my avtivism. Nothing will change if people just ignore negative things. Some of us even get accused of whining when we speak up. That is their way of trying to convince us that speaking out makes us wimps. Nothing is farther from the truth. It takes strength to stand up and speak out about things.

  2. Hildaodinsbjorn says:

    On point as always, Wayland. This reminds me of the people I have encountered who want me to only write happy lyrics. Music is my activism. Nothing will change if people just ignore negative things. Some of us even get accused of whining when we speak up. That is their way of trying to convince us that speaking out makes us wimps. Nothing is farther from the truth. It takes strength to stand up and speak out about things.

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