The Mindset Tragedy of Opal Whiteley – Faith Before a Fall?
The unique story of Opal Whiteley can give us all hope, or give us all warning.
Raised in logging camps in poor surroundings, Opal was a self-trained naturalist whose playmates were the trees and wild animals of the forests she lived in. She also kept a diary of her life, on various scraps and pieces of paper.
She believed she was a daughter of regal birth and given to the Whiteleys to raise as their adopted daughter.
When old enough to make a living on her own, she lectured and authored, and had published a couple of books on the nature she knew.
Saving up enough to visit publishers in New York City, she met the publisher of the Atlantic Monthly. While he wasn’t interested in her latest naturalist book and the paste-up she offered, he was more fascinated by the story of her life and the diary she had kept.
Ultimately, that publisher revealed this to the world through articles in his periodical as well as a book in its own right.
The book’s refreshing style made it a bestseller, ranking only behind Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street.
Unfortunately, critical reviews soon claimed her book a hoax. They hounded Opal and her family until her remaining relatives had moved and changed their name, the book was out of print, and Opal had left the country.
She had traveled to Europe, where she was welcomed by the mother of Henri d-Orle’ans in France. Then traveling to India, she lived for a time as the guest of the Maharana of Udaipur.
Yet there is all sorts of psychobabble, even among her supporters, as to why she believed differently than the others around her.
The point is that she believed. And her beliefs were strong enough to send her to Europe and India where she was entertained as a princess.
I have seen people change their beliefs about their pasts and change their memories to suit their current belief systems. I’ve seen fear change a person from a carefree and joyous person into a sour, tight-faced individual, just by continued association with bullies.
If one believes themselves differently, it’s much to us like Thoreau’s “different drummer.” As beliefs can change the past, and they form the future, they can logically create facts in the present day.
I would challenge you to read up on Opal and her story for yourself. Again, Bristol uses her as an example of William James’ idea that “…faith in a fact can help create the fact.”
An intriguing (and fair) review of her life and work is found in The Fantastic Tale of Opal Whiteley by Steve McQuiddy (link in Appendix). As well, consider the radio program by KBOO also linked there. You can also find other references via Internet search.
The warning of this tragedy is the abuse that the media (in true Bucket Crab style) can heap on people who are different and exceptional. Opal apparently had no real defense against these, and wound up her life as a ward of England in a old-age home there.
Her childhood and youth has become a wonder of the local historical societies, due to her uncanny genius at the natural sciences. Not only were the admission rules changed to allow her entry in to college (she had never attended high school or finished her high school credits) but the students and teachers were in awe about her. The University’s head of Geology said that her beginning knowledge of that subject was greater than the students who had graduated with a major in it.
Yet even today, to mention her name is to start up the controversy all over.
What is remarkable is the simple story McQuiddy relates of her schooling. It seems that while an avid reader, and years beyond her age in schooling, she would also at times be found looking off into space, quiet, contemplative. Like the stories of young Bill Gates growing up, and also Dr. Elmer Gates as Napoleon Hill describes in Think and Grow Rich. (As well, this isn’t an uncommon routine to some meditation practices.)
If this idea of faith-creating-facts is accurate, then it turns the vast bulk of what we’ve been taught on its head, excepting our oldest philosophic texts. And of course, that means the idea falls right into the core idea of this book, that 95% of what we’ve been taught won’t prove to be workable.
This also indicates how mobs are created, and how “repeating a datum often enough makes it fact.” Enough people believe it, it becomes true. What an individual believes creates the life around them.
It is only when people believe things that seem to threaten others (or their beliefs) that the attacks begin.
James idea points to the probable existence of a far more powerful natural system based on belief and natural principles. Such a system can be accessed by anyone at any time – if they know how to look, how to think, and how to take action on what they find.
The lesson, then: Believe what you want, create the world the way you want it. But expect little support from the culture around you.
We’ve mentioned here and there how you can build defenses in order to live the life you choose. Bristol talks about “drawing a white circle” about you, that he heard from a Fire Department Station Chief. Levenson tells how to use releasing to eliminate being affected by enforced approval, control, or security issues. Studying Huna books will bring even more ideas of how to protect yourself from negative influences.
You can expect social media to turn on you with typical trolling. And being frank and honest will try even your most staunch friendships, if your beliefs threaten theirs.
History has uncounted records of mobs turning mystics into martyrs. Sad, but true. The mainstream media of her day seems to have done the same to Opal Whiteley.
Humankind hasn’t changed much over the 10,000 years of our own recorded history. That’s why marketing is so easy to learn these days. The old handbooks still work.
It doesn’t mean you can’t think or believe differently. Our current world (particularly in the U.S. where we have more agreement and support for individual expression) appears to support the oddest among us better than ever before.
But there is this warning that you might be pilloried if you are considered a threat to other’s belief-systems. After all, most of theirs are are built on sand, with bombs underneath. It’s understandable that they are a bit touchy when you question those beliefs.
If you yourself are bomb-proof, and you are ready to let the attacks simply pass you by, then your world-view is secure. Of course you simply may take the more pragmatic approach of not stirring up the hornet’s nest by poking it unnecessarily.
Your choice. As always. As usual.
Ready to turn your life into a miracle? What can help you is to pick up your copy of Make Yourself Great Again. All you have to do is click here and get your instant download. (And check out the back of the book for the bonuses…)