My new roommate, Greg, is a great cook, very generous, a master pianist, smart, and an all around nice guy. But he’s a smoker, caught deep in the web of the most successful marketing scheme the world has ever known and he’s too addicted to free himself. I can hear him hacking and coughing in his sleep right now as I type this. His lungs are failing in their pitiful attempt at coating themselves in phlegm to protect against the cancerous toxins in those Marlboros he spends hundreds of dollars on every month. He knows cigarettes cause cancer. He knows they’ll kill him. And he knows he should stop before it’s too late, though in reality it might already be. But he won’t quit, because his denial is so strong that his rationality has been overrun by his positive-thinking.
Staying positive is supposed to be a good thing. It’s one of those things that’s supposed to get you out of any jam. Of course it can be a useful, because denying the inevitable is the only way to make the impossible possible, which can’t actually happen by the way–the impossible IS impossible–but you know what I mean. Deep down, most of us know we won’t win a stage at Redlands or Gila, but we trick ourselves into dreaming, hoping, and then planning for victory. Without denial we’d never show up to the start line. There would be no point.
But in many cases denial (overly positive thinking) is one of human-kind’s largest flaws. As the population of the disgustingly overpopulated world surpasses seven billion, living conditions for the third world continue to deteriorate, the environment continues to be raped by capitalists, and the devision of wealth grows ever larger, the denialist will tell you to look on the positive side of things, letting you know that A) the sky is still blue, B) you have all your limbs, and C) you have food on the table and friends and family that care about you. To that I say thank you. Thank you denialist, for avoiding the bleak, troubling subject of inevitable doom our world faces if we don’t get our act together and abolish corporate greed, false democracy, and our unwavering avoidance of talking about people living in huts with Haliburton bombs looming overhead. Thank you for your ignorance and cowardice. The world certainly does keep spinning, as you so eloquently put it, but whether or not it continues to spin with us aboard is a question you’ve failed to ask.
Greg convinces himself that he won’t get cancer because his grandmother smoked until she was 84. He thinks he’s exempt because the doctor said he has extra large lungs due to his large torso, and that having larger lungs makes him capable of dispersing the toxins that he’s currently hacking up as I type. He’s yet another rational person thinking irrationaly due to looking on the brighter side of life, and in doing so, losing a day for every puff he takes and every excuse he makes.
The world doesn’t need more extreme optimists. It doesn’t need more followers, unquestioning and unthinking their ways into creating more problems to arise every time their impassioned consumption, brought on by a not-so-witty commercial, tells them to buy something without stopping to think about what they’re doing or how that product got on the shelf. The world needs more critics, questioners, and skeptics. What happened to the six W’s? (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and sometimes hoW). If everyone’s religion tells them that everything happens for a reason, why can’t they see that everything they do has a consequence? I don’t understand why people STILL shop at Walmart, STILL buy SUVs for driving themselves (and themselves alone) a short eight miles to work, STILL believe in politicians, and STILL think there are actual terrorists out to get us. I mean, come on. It’s like believing in Santa Clause or Jesus! Give me a break. You’re in denial. Smoking will kill you. Complacency will get us nowhere. Simple as that. Question, disobey, and demand change. At least stop shopping at corporate whore houses like Sears and Target and JC Penny. It’s the least we can do. I, for one, will not be buying a damn this this coming Black Friday, and if I did I would at least make sure it was from a small, locally-owned business. Like Whole Foods.