When I started playing with a system of beliefs based on the music and writings of Jason Mraz, I thought it would be fun just because it was all so tongue-in-cheek. Not that it’s that crazy of an idea – serious, multi-billion dollar religions have been based on much less *coughcoughmormonscoughcough*. But all of the guidelines I set out were about common sense more than anything. And who needs to buy into a well-marketed cult to be taught common sense, right? And that’s where I always overestimate the general public.
Enter “The Secret”, the shoddy, cheesy video and accompanying paraphernalia that promises to teach you the way to acquire wealth and goods and better jobs and anything else you can’t figure out how to do yourself. The website says, “For the first time in history, the world’s leading scientists, authors, and philosophers will reveal The Secret that utterly transformed the lives of every person who ever knew it… Plato, Newton, Carnegie, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Einstein.”
Uh, first time in history? Hardly. The big secret isn’t a secret at all. If you’ve walked through your life with your eyes and ears open then you’ve been told The Secret many times, in many forms, in many venues. And you don’t have to have a fancy degree or be a genius to figure it out. My mom knows it. Your mom knows it. Mr. Rogers told it to you every time you visited his neighborhood. Miss Manners and kindergarten teachers live by it.
It’s called Do Unto Others. It’s called Karma. It’s called the Golden Rule. It’s called Don’t Be the One Person Who Ruins It for Everybody Else. It’s called Not Being an Ass to Your Fellow Human Beings. And it’s been around forever and ever.
What it comes down to is this: If you walk around with a smile on your face, a spring in your step, a (Jason Mraz) song in your heart, and a positive attitude about what you can accomplish, people will respond positively to that. You’ll be someone that others want to be around. They will appreciate you, they will respect you, they will wish good things for you. You will attract other positive people. Plus, it’s just good form to treat your fellow man with kindness and respect.
But if you wallow through life bitching and moaning and complaining about how things never work out for you and you try to get ahead by stabbing others in the back, you’ll attract the same kind of nastiness to you. People will avoid you rather than help you and you’ll slowly poison all of your relationships. You don’t have to buy a book to figure that out, you just have to watch A Christmas Carol, or Scrooged, or any variation thereof.
These Keepers of the Un-Secret aren’t saying anything new, they’re just charging for it (be sure to visit the Secret Superstore!) whereas other institutions, from the Buddhists to the Children’s Television Workshop, have been giving the same advice away free for years. Apparently Americans think anything they have to pay for (unused gym memberships, bad financial advice, bulk anything) is way better than something they can get for free (a walk around the block, decency, a library card).
Also, the Secretives are promising more than just some lousy happiness and good health. They’re promising expensive, shiny things. You want that necklace in the window? Well think about it lots and lots, and eventually some guy will buy it for you. Because you deserve it just for being you, and not because of anything you’ve actually accomplished.
There are plenty of pro-Secret and anti-Secret sites out there. Do your own research, make up your own mind. But never again will I feel silly for making up a faith based on the Curbside Prophet Mraz and his message of groovy geekiness and living in the moment and enjoyment of sex (I don’t think I included that before, but I just suddenly decided it should be important) when other people are paying good money for the magic secret to getting a new car or losing weight.
Maybe we have something in common with the Jedi people after all.
A new song like a new religion,