Do You Believe in Magic?
On an election night not too long ago—let’s say . . . oh . . . around 2016 or so—I found myself at the home of some friends. (Yes, the Curmudgeon has friends. Why is that so difficult to believe?) It was there that I sat with a small group of people, all nervously watching the results as they came in. Also present that night was a woman with whom I was not previously acquainted. For various reasons which are beside the point I had already, earlier in the evening, privately categorized her as obnoxious in the extreme. By now I’d reached the point where homicide—something I’d always imagined myself too gentlemanly to consider—was back on the table.
As things progressed on the television, the room fell sadly silent. Let it suffice to say that things were not going in the direction we’d hoped. And as the grim news trickled in, I voiced what many of us were thinking: “Oh my God. He’s going to win.” It was at this point that my new acquaintance piped up scoldingly, “Don’t say that! You’ll speak it into existence. Put it out into the universe that everything’s going to be fine.” But by then it was too late. I’d already uttered the fateful incantation, unleashing evil into the universe and well, we all know what happened next.
I would like to officially apologize for causing that. However, in my defense, I was unaware that sitting in a living room and saying something out loud in front of seven people would alter the course of world events.
People seem to be having more conversations in recent years about what makes something a fact. It’s difficult to pin down, largely because we never thought we’d have to. Still, with the help of things like research, expertise, tangible proof, and first-hand observations, we can come pretty close to discerning which things are facts and which are hogwash. Those who love accuracy and truth are prone to mock those who draw their conclusions based on concocted myths and anonymous hearsay, and rightly so; those people are deserving of mockery. They’re stupid. They’re also dangerous, as the spreading of falsehoods—intentionally or unintentionally—perpetuates those wrong beliefs. And that can sometimes lead to large groups of crazed conspiracy theorists storming the capitol.
But it has always struck me as amusing that often, the very people who pride themselves on being firmly rooted in provable truths also believe that saying words out loud makes things happen. These people will often smugly inform us that Christianity—a well-established, time-honored religion followed by untold millions over countless lifetimes—is bogus, disproven by science, and embraced only by the naive. They will also tell you that saying you’re going to be hired for a new job magically forces those making the decision to choose you and, apparently, that stating which way an election seems to be going affects the final vote count. This belief is no less primitive than believing that thunder is caused by Thor racing his chariot across the sky (which, incidentally, has yet to be conclusively disproven).
The part of the manifestation myth that most amuses me is the way believers explain the many instances in which their magical spells somehow fail to bear the desired results: “Well, that just means the universe has something better in store.” First of all, this image of the universe as some sort of distribution center that disperses nice things if you say you already have them is truly odd. It’s also an idea that is—if I’m being judgmental, which I am—cuckoo. And the explanation that manifesting is real because the only time it doesn’t work is when it’s not “supposed” to is awfully convenient. I was wearing a green tie and found a ten-dollar bill on the street. That tie is magic. Whenever I wear it, I find a ten-dollar bill on the street. Okay, not always. Actually, it was just that one time, but that’s because the universe is going to start giving me twenty-dollar bills. I just have to keep believing in the power of the green tie.
Or maybe it’s just a tie.
Now before anyone gets his nose out of joint, let me assure you that I am not advocating for one set of beliefs over any other. You can believe that coring an apple backwards under a full moon on May the 12th causes pregnancy for all I care. I am merely pointing out the inconsistency and hypocrisy of mocking religion while believing in magic. It’s what I do. I point things out. You could say that’s part of my religion.
If you are one of those who believes that you can speak things into existence, then please don’t be selfish; turn your attention to solving global warming. And if this week’s Curmudgeon has offended, well . . . that’s what the universe had for you this week.