politics, spirituality

Why I am no longer a “New Ager”

This morning an email landed in my inbox from a metaphysical healer offering a “financial freedom healing audio.”  He is a gifted healer whom I’ve followed in the past and whom I respect and whose loving beliefs are genuine.

The email didn’t get opened, though; it got deleted.  And that’s because I no longer subscribe to the idea that financial abundance or any other major shift in material circumstances comes through the power of a special “frequency.”  This “Law of Attraction” is still huge in New Age circles.  You can cure cancer by thinking positive thoughts.  You can have millions of dollars if you put out the right frequency into the universe.  You can live a blissful, problem-free life, because the world isn’t real, your reality is all in your mind.

Well… no.  Your thoughts and the energy that you put out into the world will absolutely affect the quality of your well-being, feelings, and relationships, but to suggest that one’s circumstances are always the result of one’s thoughts — or “frequency” — is to deny the very real structures that are actively influencing our circumstances and our day-to-day reality.

What structures?  Well, if you are white, cisgendered, heterosexual, educated, middle or upper class, the law of attraction probably works pretty damn well for you.  There is a quote attributed to the poet Rumi which says, “Live life as though everything is rigged in your favor,” and which has been adopted and circulated by many of the LOA people, such as Louise Hay (founder of Hay House), Wayne Dyer, Gabrielle Bernstein, and many others.  And yeah, it’s a good thought.  Staying positive and expecting good things will always make you a happier person.  But the irony is that almost every time I see someone use this quote, they are white, middle-upper class people, for whom the quote is absolutely true.  Everything IS rigged in their favor.

The problem is when this quote is applied to anyone outside of the dominant social class.  Don’t tell someone who experiences structural racism and discrimination that a 5-minute audio healing will “bust through the blocks” that stand in the way of their financial well-being.  Don’t tell someone in poverty who labors 40+ hours per week and makes barely enough to pay rent and buy groceries that they need to “heal their money mindset.”  Don’t tell people of color, queer and transgender people, and other social groups who have spent centuries fighting for survival that the answer to getting their needs met is by changing the way they think.  Absolutely not.  That is just another iteration of shifting responsibility onto the victim.  The system — the structures that are actively undermining and oppressing them — needs to be changed.  Capitalism needs to be changed.  Racism needs to changed.  Patriarchy needs to be changed.  Xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia need to be changed.

If you’re not part of that conversation, I’m not interested.  The only “New Age” I’m interested in is one that no longer denies and systematically overlooks the marginalization of millions and no longer upholds or supports the broken political-economic system in which that marginalization occurs.

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