Can and does positive psychology help us with the tragic and terrible events in life?
Positive psychologists focus on the positive and they raise two issues in mind:
- How much use is positive psychology when life if really dreadful?
- And aren’t we being rather patronizing to people in the midst of tragedy and despair?
I wonder what other positive psychologists would say.
Look at tragedy & despair squarely but not necessarily in the eye
I would say that we need to look at tragedy and despair squarely but not necessarily in the eye.
To use the analogy of wild animals, some animals become more aggressive if we stare them in the eye, but most will attack if we lose eye contact! Worldliness is important and we need to understand the menace that faces us.
Have compassion for yourself and your journey
But there is a season for everything, and to continue the analogy, whatever drew us to the bush in the first place, has brought us to this predicament. We need to understand our predicament, and even appreciate it, within the context of our wider lives, within the journey that brought us to this place and will take us on to other places.
Poetry in dark times
It is so much more easily said than done.
In dark times, we value our poets as much if not more than we do in bright times. They mirror what we are feeling – our despair and fear – against a backdrop of our hopes and dreams.
Poetry from Zimbabwe in the dark days after the 2008 election
This poem is from Zimbabwe which you may know is in deep peril as they wait for long delayed election results to be announced. April has been a long month of waiting for them.
The poet is Comrade Fatso, a local musician, who has his own website and blog. I don’t have his permission to use his poem here. I hope he doesn’t mind. I hope, too, you visit his blog and leave a kind word. Or go to his website and listen to his music (it is for sale!)
The streets are empty.
The state has retreated.
So has the opposition.
All we are left with
are their torn posters,
pasted over each other
in a confusing collage of symbols and slogans.
We also have their space-fillers.
walk the streets,
batons in belts
like forgotten cellphones.
swung in the air
like a stick-picked-up-on-a-path.
They walk the streets
like the thousands
of unemployed H-town youths.
Like the pothole-filling youths
who have taken over the suburban streets.
asking for donations,
The state has gone back to the drawing board.
The opposition has stayed away from its stay-away.
Its re-count and re-plan time.
And all we have are their space-fillers.