Manifesting, Victim-blaming, and White Light

On a forum where I’m a regular, there was a post today by someone who’s looking to learn to shield, because they’re uncomfortable with their empathy levels. A new member posted to them that they simply needed to Manifest! Good! Energy! And white light! Because what you believe is what will be!

I have several problems with this idea. First, the fact that it’s utter nonsense. My mother, as dearly as I love her, believes in her heart that she’s going to make her fortune by winning the lottery. She plays multiple times per week, spending close to $2K each year on tickets. If she’d saved the money she’s spent in the lottery since it was approved in our state eight years ago, she’d have a down payment on a house by now, instead of feeling trapped and unable to move out of my grandparents’ house.  Instead, all she has is a belief and a habit. She’s won small prizes on scratch-off games here and there, but like many gamblers, she feeds her winnings right back into her habit the majority of the time.

The other problem I have with this idea that we manifest our lives through the energy we put out is its natural conclusion. If manifesting energy is all it takes to fix one’s life, then when horrible things happen to people, it’s because they didn’t do it right. And that makes it their fault. Well, I call bullshit. My close friends who live with chronic illnesses aren’t sick because they didn’t manifest the appropriate energies; they’re sick because their bodies do not work properly. Sasha Fleischman was not set on fire on the bus earlier this month because they didn’t manifest appropriate energy. They were set on fire for being agender and wearing a skirt while displaying masculine physical characteristics, and because people are capable of great cruelty.

When I called this member on the flaws in this approach, she replied that when she manifests good-day energy, it usually works for her. She then went on to tell me that she hoped I found something that brought me the joy she’s been able to manifest in her life. Now, this isn’t the first time that one of these white-light types have claimed that I don’t have joy in my life, but the truth is, that’s not the case at all. The difference is that my joy doesn’t come from looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, but from seeing the world as it is and taking action to make it better. The joy of a world where children love books is the joy of reading to a preschooler. The joy of a world in which poor people have enough to eat is the joy of taking the spare change that’s been piling up in the console of your car and using it to buy lunch for the homeless veteran panhandling on the corner. My joy is the joy of feeling like I’m making a difference. My great-uncle Roger, who helped to raise my dad, once told me that every choice we make is like throwing a rock into water. It might look small when we’re up close to it, but that ripple effect touches people in ways we don’t imagine, for good or bad. These small choices build up, and if we try to pretend we already live in a world that’s better than this one, we miss the chances to create that world.

7 Comments on “Manifesting, Victim-blaming, and White Light”

  1. Good insight, especially connecting “positive thinking” to victim-blaming!

    Logical extensions of the argument (seen in certain kinds of american christianity and buddhism. as well) would assert that the poor don’t want money bad enough, the homeless are too bitter to manifest homes, and (as Barbara Ehrenreich points out in several of her works), the jobless aren’t trying and cancer patients who die weren’t thinking positively.

    • Stephy says:

      I think that’s definitely a valid point. This philosophy tends to run on the assumption that everyone has the resources and the societal power to change their circumstances, and that there’s nothing beyond human control. That’s just not realistic.

  2. If you ever see me “Manifesting white light”, run. Or, if you’re feeling especially brave, lay a hand on my shoulder and tell me to chill the fuck out. That isn’t ‘good light’ or ‘holy light’. It’s the flaming white hot light of my anger that I’m seriously considering pouring into someone or something and burning whatever it is from the inside out.

    But… yeah… I still don’t know where people get this idea. It’s everywhere. Like Rhyd mentioned about the link to Christianity and Buddhism… but having read quite a bit on both (moreso on Christianity) I can’t recall Jesus or Buddha ever claiming all you had to do was “think positively” and things would work out. The positive thinking was a first step, not the end of the road. Same goes for pretty much every other religious and philosophical school of thought I’ve read about.

    For your friend needing to shield and manage their empathy (why someone thought sending up a beacon and attracting more attention was a good idea I’ll never know…), did anyone talk to them about learning to Ground and using that as a starting point for building up a good set of shields? I see that glossed over a lot.

    • Stephy says:

      A wiser poster did make suggestions as to grounding and managing their energy, but by that time I was already too annoyed to formulate a reply that didn’t start with an F and end with an “off.”

      • Well, I’m glad that someone did bring that up at least. Seen too many people that could use just that very basic down to Earth sort of advice walk away thinking there’s something wrong with themselves or something.

  3. veggiewolf says:

    I used to blame New Age philosophies for the white-light shit. Now, I also blame “The Secret”. A positive outlook is all well and good, but it doesn’t fix those things that are BEYOND OUR ABILITY TO FIX. Case in point: chronic illness cannot be cured by positive thinking (or changing the gods we worship). Yes, that was a dig. 😉

    Nicely written, Stephy.

  4. […] read a post by another Brigid-worshiper awhile back regarding how certain tendencies within Paganism are not […]

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