Friday, March 23, 2012

Ruminating on Positivity vs. Negativity

A fellow blogger recently posted about positivity and negativity and it caused me to think about the issue. This isn't really a response, merely musings that have transpired after reading her post. The main question that is in my mind is why read, watch, study negative things (such as dystopian literature)? Can't we just focus on things that are positive? My answer would be no.

Should we encourage students by saying "You can do anything!" or should we be really negative and tell them that most of them will work a dead-end job the rest of their lives. Most people would say the first, but they are both poor things to tell students.

I don't plan on telling my future students, or my future kids for that matter, that they can do anything they put their mind to because it isn't really true. No matter how hard I try I will never be able to play in the NFL. Ok...ok maybe if I want it so badly that I forsake other things that I am more naturally inclined to do (such as being an English major) and I focus all my time on football for the next ten years then I suppose I could maybe be a punter or a cheerleader or a waterboy. I think we should encourage students to do what they are good at/passionate about. It's not being negative, it's just being wise I think.

When it comes to negative things in the world should we just ignore such programs and books in the name of focusing on the positive? Positivity by ignorance of negativity is not really positivity at all. True positivity comes from an embrace of something negative. It's not hard for someone to be positive if they have completely shut themselves off to anything negative 

When it comes to dystopian literature some of my friends find it to be a hopeless and negative genre. Ironically, the ideology of only looking at things deemed positive and not experiencing the negative is a theme that drives dystopian literature. In The Giver by Lois Lowry the council wants to protect the people from the negative experiences of death and argument over differences, so they decided that they would control death so that it didn't have to be experienced in the community. They decided to make everything the same so there would be no arguments or wars over differences. It is this mindset that created the dystopia in the first place.

Also I think it would be a bit disingenuous not to include negative readings and films in school curriculum or in ones own personal library because the world we are in is negative at times. Like I said previously true optimism can only be present in the face of a negative reality (if all we focused on was positivity we would have nothing to be optimistic about except that other people would join us in our utopia).

Most positives are born from negatives anyway. To create a cure for a disease, the disease and death it causes must be recognized. To maintain a healthy relationship we have to confront negative occurrences. You may say, "well when bad things happen you can just choose to focus on the positives!" But I think we should focus on negatives and positives. For instance if you lose a game you can focus on the positives such as "the game was fun" and "i did my best." You can do that all you want and you will never get any better! To truly make progress one has to recognize "I am pretty terrible at this" and "i need to work harder." etc....I don't know....I feel like this post was scatterbrained...I suppose I'll post it anyway. let me know your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, so first I just want to say I obviously have strong feelings about the topic of positivity vs. negativity because I always seem to put my two cents in, but I really enjoyed this blog even if you thought it was scatterbrained. Your comment "true positivity comes from an embrace of something negative" was really beautiful to me. I am a firm believer that to experience real happiness in life one must experience suffering. While that is a bit of an extreme, you get the idea. Complete positivity is unrealistic and negative and positive are two sides of the same coin. Thanks for elaborating even further...I enjoyed.