Walt Disney, Will Rogers and Mark Twain all agreed that we are just as happy as we make up our minds to be. It’s all a matter of attitude. Gerald Massey, the Egyptologist, indicated that for at least ten-thousand years philosophers have known that we may change our lives by changing our attitudes. Two men look through bars; one sees mud, the other sees stars.
Eric Berne, the Canadian psychiatrist, pointed out that the average person in our society will try to change everybody’s attitude except their own. Social games are played as a competition to see who controls the other. Dr. Berne stated, the key to happiness and success is to allow everyone to deal with their own attitude, and you deal with yours. When someone makes you angry, they are controlling you, and, as Eleanor Roosevelt pointed out, nobody can make you angry without your permission.
Do we give people permission to make us angry, fearful, or panicky? Do activists, demonstrating about global warming, bring to mind Chicken Little? Do they remind you of fanatical flocks of sheep baaing about the end of the world? Does it make you think about the atomic bomb crisis of the nineteen-fifties when terrified children were ordered, whenever the air-raid siren sounded, to immediately “duck and cover” under their desks? We were told that we were living on the eve of destruction. Adolescents began dropping out of mainstream society, joining hippie and beatnik worlds; regularly drinking alcohol, smoking pot, and taking psychedelic drugs. Many sought guidance, a leader, a saviour, and a sanctuary. Life as slaves who made no decisions seemed appealing.
Religion, offering security and eternal happiness, became the big winner. Many young people joined cults. Evangelical preachers popped up like mushrooms. Knowing that congregations normally vote according to their leader’s wishes, politicians actively courted spiritual leaders, especially the very successful super-evangelist, Billy Graham, who smiled all the way to the bank; while his previous mentor, teacher, and partner, the newly reformed Charles Templeton, declared it was all a big scam; there was no heaven, no hell, and no gods; and for anyone who cared to listen, he could provide proof, the same proof that Gerald Massey, H. G. Wells, Alvin Boyd Coon, Albert Schweitzer, Northrup Frye, Robert Ingersoll, Thomas Edison, Will Durant, and many others had been proclaiming for hundreds of years. Templeton explained that people are not usually influenced by rational dialogue, but are generally manipulated through emotion; with fear being the most effective tool, since fearful people lose all rationality and willingly flock to any mirage or promise of a safe haven. Templeton pointed out that no religion could honestly guarantee salvation or eternal happiness.
Former Beatle, John Lennon, sang out that we should make love, not war, asking everyone to imagine living in a world of peace, with no countries, no religion, and nothing to die for. He was assassinated.
Today, books written by authors such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Bertrand Russel, Tom Harpur, and Sam Harris, are in agreement with Charles Templeton. These books, for the most part, are ignored by readers, and by the media. Our leaders have commonly known that it’s hard to control human beings who are rational. Rational people are not easily influenced by emotion and cheap advertisements.
Fear-mongers are telling us that there is “strong evidence” indicating the burning of fossil fuels is a major cause of global warming. Strong evidence is not proof, it is no more than opinion. However, scientists agree it would be to our benefit if we switched from petroleum sources of energy to hydro, solar, and wind-generated energy. In every major city, the smog levels caused by vehicle exhaust are dangerously high. Also, we should be phasing out the production and use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These chemicals break down into poisonous gases, at least two of which, phosgene and chlorine, have been used in chemical warfare.
Look back in history. We have always had doom and gloom. However, we have always had the alternative, something to be grateful for, and something to smile about. Change your attitude and you will change your life.
Wayne Weedon is an Indigenous Manitoba writer of novels and short stories. To sample his wonderful work go to Wattpad.com.