Commentary: The Secret—issues of trust and change

By L.A. Reed

Three years after hearing about this movie, I am still having to respond to people about it, and my disagreements with it.  Even from people I love.

One more person, a  very loving person, suggested to me what a wonderful book/movieThe Secret is.  She said it helped her change her life and inspired her to let go of the past and believe she had power to change her life.  I laud her for that.

I saw that movie several years ago, in fact, with several lesbians.

I did not like the movie at all, and here is why.

I come from a political change background.  That background understands several things.  One, many of the problems of the world are caused by SYSTEMIC oppression—Groups of people hurt through the institutions of a larger society, controlled by groups of people who benefit from them.  On a personal level, we are treated badly by members of those “oppressor groups,”  made to feel less human, often.  This takes a lot of emotional power away and is very difficult to fight.

Does deciding we have power beyond what we have been told, matter?  Yes!  Does changing it as an individual help?  Yes, it does.  But as feminism suggests, the personal is political.  So the goal is still changing society for the larger group, not us struggling alone as individuals.

Where The Secret takes off is that there is some mystical source of information throughout various religious cultures.  That’s the secret, and that anyone who finally gets the picture—who can change that about themselves—will succeed wildly and make lots of money.  That everybody has that ability to change their thinking and their lives.  However, they make it sound pretty darn easy.  Is it?  And if we can’t, are we somehow inferior?  Not deserving of our lives changing?

The people who succeed in this movie are mostly people who have so much internal power that they are able to break through their histories and the difficulties of their present lives.  That’s great.  Most are purported to be making lots of money, to be wealthy, which seems to be a goal.  There is a sense, however, that if you can’t do this, you ARE inherently inferior.  It’s your fault.

So it’s all about the individual. Some people suggest we all have to be superhuman to change our lives.  That’s a tall order!  I can’t do that!  I have no cape or wings!  For me, it’s about trusting other people,  which I am somewhat desperately learning.  But that gives me hope, and the willingness to go after my own change and for others.

And the individual wealth thing, well, I wish for ALL of us a more equal distribution of money, and that all of us succeed and have all the good food, clean water, clothing, decent housing, music, art and poetry, and amenities.  But having tons of money and things will never be the answer.  Friendship and trust is probably more “the secret” than anything else.  But it is not as easy as it sounds.  May we all believe in our goodness, our significance, in our ability to trust one another, and not do any of this alone.

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