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April 12, 2007

ON IMUS

I think I have some left-wing credentials, and even a few of them in the area of racial reconciliation. But a left-wing thought police scares me just as much as a right-wing one does, and the idea that anyone -- Al Sharpton or anyone else -- is planning to "purify the air waves" doesn't just offend me; it horrifies me.

All people of good will want a good society, and racial prejudice has no place in one. But the fundamental principle of American governance, guaranteed by the First Amendment, is that we rely upon freedom -- letting people say what they say and think what they think -- as the best way to get us there. You want to get rid of prejudice? Shine the light on it. Don't send it creeping back under its rock.

You want to talk about evil -- particularly as it relates to race in America? There's a lot of it out there. The rate of incarceration of black men in this country, and the proven injustices towards them in our criminal justice system; there's an evil we should talk about. The number of black children receiving inadequate health care and education in our country; there's an evil we should talk about.

But one racially prejudiced comment -- not declaring hate or calling for violence, and even if part of a larger pattern in a man's life and career -- is not the evil we should be jumping up and down about. If anything, we should show a lot more sophistication and sense of proportion in our analysis of what matters most.

I am a Jew; I've heard anti-Semitic comments all my life. I've had vicious lies said about me in public and written about me in the national media. Did such comments affect me and cause me pain? Absolutely. Did they scar me for life? That's entirely my decision.

The women of the Rutgers basketball team, simply by their existence, say it all. All of them are beautiful. All of them are high achievers. The very fact that they exist prove Imus' comments to be stupid and absurd. I was all for shaming him publicly; healthy shame can be a positive force. I didn't mind his being suspended from his job, and I wouldn't have minded if it had been for longer. But firing him because we have to start concerning ourselves with what's "admissable" on the airwaves? Does that mean I can no longer say "lying President" or "war-mongering Vice-President" or "corrupt administration?"

I watched my Congresswoman speak on television about how this isn't the end of the conversation. Oh, really? Does that mean we'll have a real conversation now about the obscene and disgusting language spewing out of the music industry, over TV and radio, every single hour of every day? She knows as well as I do that much of that obscenity stems from black artists. And that language and those images don't just degrade one particular group of women. They degrade all women, of any color.

This situation degrades all Americans.

Marianne Williamson

radio host, "Oprah and Friends" XM156

Posted by mwblog at 10:34 PM

April 1, 2007

THE SECRET: Think It and Make It So

By Marianne Williamson

This Spring, the book and DVD "The Secret" made a blazing appearance onto the stage of American society. From New York to Los Angeles to Denver to Detroit, and apparently in pretty much most towns in between, people scrambled to learn what any metaphysical student knows as the simple law of Cause and Effect. Thought, or consciousness, is the level of Cause; our experience in the world is the level of Effect.

"The Secret" became quite controversial, as both its weaknesses (historical inaccuracies, concentration on individual/material rather than collective/spiritual good) as well as its strengths (the revelation of a simple but very powerful truth: that what you think is what you get) sent elite guardians of the status quo up the wall. Newsweek Magazine, for one, slammed the project as "ethically deplorable" and "scientifically preposterous." While the magazine article's facts weren't necessarily off the mark, its basic cynicism made me root for "The Secret" as though it was David fighting Goliath. For one thing, I had seen people's lives change for the better because they had watched it. I suppose because its contents are the staples of my profession, I was slightly surprised it contained any new information for anyone. But I figured hey, if it did, I'm just glad they watched it.

What struck me was a comment about overweight people that became much-discussed in the media. Newsweek opened its article pointing out that the American Heart Association had issued a report saying that if you want to lose weight, you should reduce your caloric intake and exercise regularly. Fair enough. "The Secret," on the other hand, argues that if you want to be thin, then don't observe overweight people - observe skinny people! What Newsweek saw as an obvious case of science versus scam, I saw as a silly argument between two equally imbalanced worldviews. In the world as I see it, both are correct. And what Newsweek might not realize, by the way, is that by observing more thin people, one programs one's subconscious in such a way that eating healthier and exercising more is more likely to occur on its own, without emotional resistance. And regardless of what the American Heart Association says, the American Psychological Association knows that emotional resistance to dieting is more of a problem for overweight people than is a dearth of vegetables at the grocery store.

Still, on my own path, neither Newsweek nor "The Secret" hone in on what interests me most. My thoughts are with that overweight person.

The issue spiritually is not whether you're overweight or thin; it's whether you're an instrument of love. So as I walked through an airport pondering these issues, I was thinking, "So what am I supposed to do if I see an overweight person? Look away?" That doesn't work for me, though I understand the point "The Secret's" author was making. Rather, I thought, I would want to silently bless, send love, pray for, anyone who might in any way have a problem - which means everyone, whether it shows on the outside or not. There are hundreds of years old paintings of Jesus and saints, with rays of light pouring out their hearts. That's the top of the mountain. It has nothing to do with whether you're rich or poor, overweight or skinny. It has to do with how much light you allow to pour through you with each thought.

Now, it just so happens that in the space of that light, you are directed subconsciously to whatever amounts to your highest expression. And that includes whatever might be your perfect weight, since weight influences the way the body contains the spirit. It is all very simple. Make everything about God, that is all. Which means, make everything about love. Love for the makers of "The Secret," love for the writers of the article in Newsweek, love for overweight people, love for skinny people, love for whoever you see or even think of. Keep your mind on the job of sending out love. Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven (love for everyone) and all (yes, including your perfect weight) will be added unto you.

Or so I see it. And it's no secret at all.

Posted by mwblog at 11:37 AM