Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dark Side

"Everybody's got a dark side; do you love me? Can you love mine?" 
-Kelly Clarkson

The philosophies that we FFB's (people who are Frum From Birth) are raised with differ depending on which communities we're born into. Some communities focus strictly on the importance of scholarly knowledge; others believe that it's what you do and how you behave that matters most. 

The community that I grew up in had a strong emphasis on thinking positively. Long before "The Secret" became popular, the leaders and teachers of my community were teaching, "Think good and it will be good." (And with that a bunch of readers are going, "Hey! I know what community you're a member of!) 

The teaching of, "Think good and it will be good" is that if you think positively, and honestly believe that G-d will give you good things, that you will actually experience those good things. 

If you've read my blog, you know I have a lot of issues with my community; this teaching is not one of them. I think it's a beautiful way to live your life - to always think positively. 

[Not that it's easy. It isn't. Just about the only time that I see it work consistently is (as per "The Secret"'s instructions) in finding a parking space. Literally, I'll say out loud, "G-d, please give me a parking space," in a parking garage that I've been driving around in for 15 minutes and someone will pull out right in front of me. It's awesome.] 

But what happens when you can't think positively? When you've experienced a tragedy, or are in a difficult life situation? It's easy to tell people, "Just think good and everything will be fine!" What about when things aren't fine? 

When I heard Kelly Clarkson's song, "Dark Side", a song that acknowledges that we all have struggles and difficulties, I was struck by the lyrics' willingness to admit that, "Nobody is picture perfect; but we're worth it; you know that we're worth it." 

Because the underside of being raised with the, "Think positively!" message is that we aren't allowed to admit that sometimes we don't think positively; sometimes we aren't perfect. 

And if you grow up in a world where no one admits that they have imperfections, you start to think that you're the only imperfect one. That something's wrong with you because you're not perfect, when, in fact, no one is. 

I think it's time for us to erase the taboo that imperfection is wrong. We're human - all of us. That means that we aren't perfect. We have "dark sides". And that's okay. 


  1. I disagree with this:

    "Because the underside of being raised with the, "Think positively!" message is that we aren't allowed to admit that sometimes we don't think positively; sometimes we aren't perfect."

    In fact, I believe that the opposite is true: Only a philosophy that accepts the very human trait of negative thought could come up with the suggestion to 'think positively'. How those who espouse that philosophy choose to interpret it's teachings is another matter entirely..

    1. Of course the philosophy accepts the existence of the human trait of negative thought; that doesn't mean it considers it acceptABLE. We're taught SO much that we need to "think positively" that when we, inevitably, think negatively, we generally keep it to ourselves.