Sunday 7 June 2015

In defence of negativity

I have noticed that there seems to be, in many people, a bias against negativity. This is, of course, a negative attitude, but never mind. The next person who tells me "don't be negative" will have this pointed out to them.

Negativity, like positivity, is neither good nor bad. It's plainly right to be negative about some things; you can make your own list, which might include brussel sprouts and Marmite, both of which I love.

Some people seem to believe that, in every negative situation, you should look for the positive. So, if you've sprained your ankle and can't go out for a walk today, you should see the positive benefits of this; you can stay indoors and read an improving book. Or even worse - this is part of Gods Great Plan, and just because you can't see a good reason for your sprained ankle, that just means that you can't understand God's Great Plan


If I preferred to read a book to going out for a walk, I would do just that. If my sprained ankle prevents me walking, that's not a positive, it's a negative, and I'm not afraid to say so. OK, I'll do the next best thing, but that wasn't my first choice.

Having said that, I'm an optimist. A severe optimist. A half full glass gives me something to drink; a half empty glass gives me the opportunity to fill it and drink. Indeed, one of my favourite sayings is that every problem is just an opportunity seen from the other end. But before you can see the opportunity, you have to see the problem, and a problem is, of course, a negative.

But how do you distinguish between a positive and a negative? That brings me to my other point - judgement. In order to make that differentiation, you have to use your judgement. Or, in the language of today, you have to "be judgemental". Which is thought to be negative.

How often have I heard "don't be judgemental"? Far too often. But if you don't use your judgement on things, people and situations, how will you decide whether they are good or bad? It is of prime importance that we be judgemental. The alternatives are to suspend judgement (which is a valid alternative, unless you need to actually do something, in which case action without judgement is like jumping with your eyes closed) or to have faith.

Well, readers of this blog must know by now that faith is just a synonym for gullibility.

So we should be positive or negative, as the situation requires, and we should never be reluctant to use our judgement.


  1. Couldn't you argue that your distinction between your own optimism and the naivetee of others is purely semantic? Insisting on being positive doesn't preclude making a judgement it is just an outlook towards the consequences, e.g. your example about the sprained ankle presents the opportunity to read a book. Positivity is not a means of ignoring reality or suspending judgement but it prevents your judgement from leading you to stagnation and pessimism. Without it, surely, your half cup full example could easily be 'judged' as negative and your viewing it as an opportunity could equally be seen as an act of faith?

  2. Yes, but my rant is a plea against the purely negative "don't be negative" that one hears.