Shortly before an election, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer joined efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover up a presidential sex scandal. That’s the conspiratorial plot of a dark comedy in the late nineties called Wag the Dog. Conspiracy theories had a dominant presence in public thought at the time.
Wikipedia notes that “A conspiracy theory is an explanatory proposition that accuses two or more persons, a group, or an organization of having caused or covered up, through secret planning and deliberate action, an illegal or harmful event or situation.”
A conspiracy we often fall prey to is being afraid of what our bodies are up to.
Even though Wag the Dog was a fictional story, it did reflect how many people view why bad things happen. It seems to be human nature to let the unexplained or hard to accept fall on the shoulders of some perceived power “out there.” We see ourselves as being victimized in some way.
I’m not so sure, however, that the conspiracy we should be most concerned about is the one contrived by the public thinking and discourse. Maybe looking into our own individual thought to see what might be conspiring against our health and happiness would be more useful.
A conspiracy we often fall prey to is being afraid of what our bodies are up to. Wondering about this symptom, that ache, or a sleepless night can be paralyzing.
By doing this, it seems to me that we do, in a way, fall into the belief that there are many forces – which we have deemed “health laws” – outside of our control that directly affect our health. We can’t see these so called laws and yet we buy into many theories and dire predictions without question. We accept them as de facto, and sometimes sinister, rulers of our bodies and our experience.
There’s an engaging allegory that depicts a criminal trial of someone accused of violating prevailing health laws by nursing an ill friend for long hours without rest or a regular proper diet. Contemporary health beliefs conspired against this generous but hapless man for helping his friend. Eventually, he was framed by his own fear and got liver disease. As the story plays out, however, the counsel for the defense introduces evidence that this man’s fear was based in a conspiracy to make him ill. But, a higher law of God – that says we are blessed for helping our neighbor – acquitted him once his fear was revealed as the culprit, and he recovered.
The purpose of the allegory is to make a point. Perhaps the Good Samaritan in the allegory could have avoided the arresting situation in the beginning. If he recognized the conspirators as his own thoughts before he fell ill he would never have found himself in court. He could have claimed his freedom from the beginning if he hadn’t conspired against himself.
The trial scene as an allegory is fine for storytelling, but what about our everyday real life experiences? For example, as we age public discourse says we must expect certain negative changes in our health due to biological processes associated with this aging – right?
But, must we?
If we accept this premise without challenging it, we are conspiring against ourselves.
The author of the trial allegory, Mary Baker Eddy, makes this observation about our so-called laws of aging:
“Time-tables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood. Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise. Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight.”
Time-tables, or predictions that go along with commonly held beliefs don’t always hold up when we don’t hold them up in our own minds. Researchers have found that to be the case.
Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard University has done extensive research on …”[c]onscious and nonconscious influences regarding the general areas of health and happiness, decision making, aging, and perceived control…” Her research has shown that thinking differently about aging (and other commonly held beliefs) has a marked effect on health. By refusing to let our own thoughts conspire against our good health and happiness, we can directly affect our aging experience.
Langer’s work goes a long way towards uncovering the conspirators in our minds, but certainly we can go further in getting at the heart of the issue. It really is a spiritual matter. As we pay more attention to the ageless spiritual qualities we possess, such as compassion, love, kindness, charity and at the same time challenge our own mental conspirators, we can upgrade our experience of happiness and health.
When we choose a Divine view of things, we don’t have to conspire against our own good health and happiness.