Today, I wanted to talk about an organization called MADD or Mother’s Against Drunk Driving. For those who don’t know, this is an organization that was formed many years ago in response to the socially irresponsible practice of drunk driving. Basically, this is a group of mothers who, having lost family members to some drunk driver, decided to get together and change the way society viewed drunk drivers. Their hope was that they could do something to stop the tragic waste of life that occurs when some “dipshit with a drink” runs down an innocent individual or family.
And, you know what; they did it.
MADD fundamentally changed the way people view drunk drivers and, in that process, had a major positive impact on the grim statistics. I know this for a fact because I remember what reality was like before they came along. I remember one night when I was seventeen getting stone cold drunk, getting behind the wheel of a huge tank of a car (solid metal, late 50’s, flared fender monster with deadly solid steal chrome grill) and, in a drunken stupor, losing control of my vehicle in a major city intersection. I was very lucky that night because I didn’t kill anyone. However, I did get arrested. After I lost control of my vehicle, I shook my head and looked up to see myself surrounded by police officers who had their guns out and their cuffs at the ready.
They slapped me in irons, they threw me in their car, and locked me in a small metal sardine can. And then, the next morning, they let me walk home.
Of course, it’s not like that now.
If I did the same thing now, not only would I be thrown in jail, but I’d lose my license and be fined a hefty fine. Them coppers just don’t have the same attitude toward the drunk driver that they used to.
And, why the difference?
Why isn’t society so tolerant of drunk drivers anymore?
Mothers Against Drunk Driving!
Back in the early eighties, when they were first formed, MADD made it their mission to eliminate the practice of drunk driving by engaging in an “in your face” public awareness campaign.
They weren’t ashamed.
They got up there on camera and showed people how innocent children were being killed. They said, in as polite a way as possible, “pay attention you numb nuts because people are suffering and dying here.”
And it worked.
While they haven’t totally eliminated drunk driving, they have helped to reduce the practice sharply. Between the years of 1986 and 2006, the number of fatalities per year attributed to alcohol and driving dropped from a high of 2500 to a low of 985. It may not be total success, but it is worth noting that the action and attention of mad mothers changed the world.
So, why am I telling you this? Well, I’m telling you this because there is this “spiritual” idea floating around the world. This spiritual idea appears in the self help aisle of book stores, on the shelves of the new age shops, and amongst spiritual pretenders. This idea, no doubt fueled by the runaway success of a certain DVD that says that the universe works like some kind of big cosmic shopping factory where you “attract” your reality just by thinking about it. According to the purveyors of this spiritual “wisdom”, if you want something, all you have to do is “visualize” it.
It’s the “Law of Attraction” (or LA) they say.
If you want a good life, all you got to do is fill your head with visions of sugar plums and all good things will come to you, which I suppose wouldn’t be terrible advice (I personally do believe in the power of intent and visualization) except for the fact that they go on to say that in addition to having only positive visions of sugar plums, you should never, ever, ever look at or think about anything nasty again because if you do, you’ll “attract” that as well.
Only happy shiny thoughts must you have, young Jedi.
I’ve heard it a thousand times now from people.
“Don’t think about the war in the Middle East,” they’ll say, “because you’ll just make it worse.”
“Don’t think about the possibility that your children might be raped by their teacher or stalked by an internet predator “cause if you do, you’ll ‘attract’ that reality”.
In other words, stick your head in the sand and pretend that nothing bad can happen because as long as you pretend, its safe.
Of course, after reading about MADD at the beginning of this article, you should see how nonsensical that advice is. You don’t ignore a social problem like drunk driving because you think by ignoring it, it will magically go away! You don’t turn your back on a speeding locomotive when you are standing on the tracks. The truth is, if you want to prevent bad things from happening to you, you watch out for them, you anticipate them, you control them, and you do something about them. That is what MADD did. MADD did everything the opposite of what they should have done if the “law of attraction” pundits had a clue. They focused on the problem. They thought about it – they agonized over it. Heck, I’m sure they lost countless nights of sleep obsessively trying to figure out a way to stop the madness. And they did it. And let’s be crystal clear here. It was their attention and action and only their attention and action that made a difference. If they had sat back and pretended or worse, blamed themselves for attracting that drunk driver that killed their family member, we wouldn’t have seen the remarkable decline in deaths that we have.
And, if this isn’t enough to drive a hard stake through the cold heart of the law of attraction, think of this – it wasn’t just the moms thinking about it, it was the dads, the brothers, the sisters, the friends, the neighbors; and when their campaign really got going, everybody else that changed the day. It was the people that focused on the problem that made the difference. These people didn’t “turn away” from the problem. They raged. They ran advertisements, visited schools, and generally did everything they could to bring the reality and the horrible consequences of drunk driving to our attention. If they had ignored it, if they had pretended it wasn’t there, if they had believed the BS about “attraction” and attention, then nothing would have changed. The truth is, focusing attention and raising awareness made it better. If all these people had simply ignored and pretended, the problem would be as bad now as it was when I was a child. But, its not as bad and so, to all the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and others who paid attention, raised awareness, and changed the world, I say “thank you!!!”
And, to everybody else, I have only this to say, “the law of attraction sucks.” Its a BS spiritual theory used to maintain the status quo and enable bad behavior. If you want my advice, don’t be an enabler and don’t accept the status quo. Remember who you are. If you want to stop or prevent something bad from happening, don’t passively ignore it, actively reject it, both with your intent, and with your positive and non-violent actions.
Call it the “Law of Repulsion” if you want.
If you don’t like something, don’t turn your back on it, don’t pretend it isn’t there, and don’t make the foolish assumption that by not giving it your energy and attention, it will all just go away. If you see something you don’t like, face it down, give it your attention, and take some kind of action to change the world. This is the only way to save yourself and save this planet.
I am Michael Sharp.