Are You Sure? I’m Positive!

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
But don’t mess with Mister In Between. – Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen

The other day I was talking on the telephone with my brother, and we got on the subject of the power of positive thinking. We both agreed that thinking positively can have a tremendous impact on one’s life, and even on one’s health. My brother told me that Bill is his model for thinking positively. Despite the fact that the world dealt Bill a hand that included Parkinson’s disease, Dave said in the morning when he’s praying for all of the people he knows who are sick, he has to remind himself to include Bill in his prayers.

“Bill is so upbeat all of the time that I forget that he’s got Parkinson’s,” Dave said.

Bill is, indeed, one of the most positive thinking people I know. And that poor man married me, Ms. Glass-Half-Empty. Oh, I’m not the world’s most negative person, but I do tend to go to the worst case scenario if I have half a chance. Not Bill. He is always, ALWAYS certain that things are going to turn out okay. And what do you know? They almost always do.

St. Mark’s gospel on Sunday was about the blind man who asked Jesus to make him see, never doubting for a moment that Jesus would let him down. And, of course, Jesus told him his faith had saved him and gave him sight.

Interestingly, Father Larry’s homily wasn’t about faith, but instead, was about forgiveness. He mentioned the church shooting that took place in Charleston, SC, in June of this year. Nine people in all lost their lives in that shooting at the Emanuel AME church, all African Americans. I remembered the shooting, but what I didn’t know is that the families of the victims all chose to forgive the shooter rather than becoming embroiled in hatred. Wow. That is amazing. I told Bill after church that I’m not sure I could forgive someone who killed a loved one.

Forgiveness is difficult, but if one is committed to thinking positively, forgiveness simply MUST be part of that package. If one is embroiled in hatred, positive thinking is out of reach.

Of course, as I thought about positive thinking, I thought about the song with the lyrics above. That song was written in 1944, not long after the Great Depression and at the height of World War II. Imagine encouraging people to ac-cen-tu-ate the positive and e-lim-i-nate the negative when you are surrounded by the violence of war. Apparently it was modeled after a consistent theme that Baptist ministers had long used. In fact, that’s where Johnny Mercer got the idea for the song. He heard a sermon by an African American Baptist minister in which the minister said ‘you got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.’ Sound familiar?

Homefront_(U.S._TV_series)_dvd_coverAs an aside, every time I hear that song I think about a television show in the early  1990s called Homefront. The show took place during and immediately following World War II, and its theme song was Accentuate the Positive. I loved the television show, and wish like crazy that I could find it somewhere. It’s where I learned the words to the song, which now are using up brain cells along with the words of every song ever written in the 60s and 70s.

Maybe if I think positively, I will find a copy of the DVD…..

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