the magic bullet and the reluctant princess

It seems we are always searching for ‘magic bullet’ solutions to our biggest issues and fears.

The most complex issues defy simple, linear solutions – yet we continue to put our faith in ‘research’ and ‘technology’ and those clever ‘experts’, to come up with something almost magical, like waving a wand to make it all disappear.

We don’t want to face the uncomfortable truths that have been surfacing for some time now, on many levels, that tell us we actually have to dig deeper, go further, and change our very lifestyles, cultures and worldviews…

Our attempts to discuss and deal with massive, multi-level and complex issues like climate change, peace and sustainability in general, are the best examples of this denial dance. No one wants to hear about change and self-sacrifice.

Instead, there are a plethora of commercial, technological and industrial options to browse through, allowing us to continue our high rates of consumption and development, while feeling ‘less bad’ about it all. Yet, while many of these are great initiatives and products, they are not enough on their own.

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‘green buildings’ – some great initiatives, but some just ‘window dressing’…

Really, we need to be consuming less, polluting less, producing less waste, sharing our global resources more equitably, making much wiser decisions about where and how we produce our food and energy, and ensuring transport and urban spaces are planned according to our changing needs (not vice versa).

But those are such massive challenges, that we are often too overwhelmed (or lazy/ complacent/ indifferent…?) even to ‘go there’. Dabbling around the edges, supporting this trendy movement/ product/ issue/ organisation, or that…is far more attractive, doable and ego-gratifying.

Cancer is another such issue – and one that not many appear to have examined in this manner in our public discourse. There is much support for ‘cancer research’ to come up with cures, yet for many, many years now, research has already been telling us some of the causes and contributors to cancer…and we are not listening!!

There are now so many carcinogenic (cancer-causing) triggers that have been ‘uncovered’ in our lives that the high rates of cancer are really not surprising. While nothing is as straightforward as ‘avoid this list of things and you will never have cancer’ – there are certainly some obvious ways in which we can reduce our risks.

From the food we ingest and cosmetics we smother ourselves in, to the plastics and building materials we have surrounded ourselves with, it’s no secret that we have created a very toxic environment to wade through on a daily basis.

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random view of a city skyline (in this case Paris)

Even those of us actively seeking to avoid these chemicals and products by choosing ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ alternatives, are already inundated and affected by things which are unavoidable – many permeating the very air we breathe and move in (mobile/smart phone radiation being a case in point – the emerging research about this is starting to prove those ‘paranoid’, ‘Luddite’, ‘non-adopters’…well, right).

Yet none of us (myself included, typing this on my smart phone) want to give up these modern conveniences and comforts.

Instead, we want to be able to live our lives the way we want, the way we always have, and look to the ‘experts’ to come up with clever, almost ‘magical’ solutions to wipe away all the consequences and unintended outcomes of these choices. We don’t want to have to change, exert ourselves, make sacrifices, or even spend much time thinking or reading about any of it. Leave it to ‘technology’ and ‘research’ to save us. 

When you really think about it, this is a very childish, irresponsible, even medieval attitude to the biggest challenges facing us today – akin to turning to a witch, shaman, priest, or prophet for a ‘quick fix’, a ‘magic bullet’…and to tell us what to do. There is too much faith and emphasis being placed on today’s equivalent, those ‘men in white coats’, the scientists, who possess ‘the knowledge’, to ‘save’ us…

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Windsor castle, UK

It’s like the fairytale story of the princess imprisoned in her tower, awaiting rescue by the gallant prince. However, in this version, the prince is already outside the tower, yelling instructions up to her to aid her escape. The princess in this story is so happy and comfortable in her tower though, with all her pretty things, her warm fire and her delicious food…that she doesn’t really want to be ‘rescued’.

The reluctant princess doesn’t know what is out there, waiting for her, and she doesn’t want to give all of this up (what is known and comfortable). She can’t even imagine another world, another way of living, compared with this prison tower that has nevertheless become home.

So the prince continues to call out from outside the tower in vain, and the princess continues to sit and ‘wait to be rescued’…but really she has her fingers in her ears and singing ‘la-la-la-la’ like the two year old who doesn’t want to hear it’s bedtime. Really she won’t admit to herself that her rescuer has already arrived, because listening to him could mean the end of everything she  has grown so fond of…

 

 

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