Magic Bullets

Featured image by: Elena Shumilova

When I was a child, if I fell down and skinned my knee my mother would gently clean me up, put a band-aid on my strawberry, and top it off with loving words to ‘make’ it all better. Later, when it was my turn to be a mother I did the same with my children, programming them to believe the magic band-aid would fix their strawberries. Whether it was the placebo effect, a good distraction or a combination of the two, it was effective and my actions could readily be seen as the kind and compassionate thing to do.

But are instant fixes really compassionate? Have we learned to seek whatever soothes the symptom or fills what we think is our immediate need at the cost of not developing the ability to ‘suck it up’ and develop a solution ourselves? It seems to me that magic bullets not only dull any innate talent for critical thinking we may have developed, but more important these bullets have tricked us into failing to fully appreciate that our choices and actions have consequences from which we ultimately cannot escape.

As I continue to awaken I try to evaluate what is going on with fresh eyes. It appears we have morphed into a society that seeks an instant fix or cure, a magic bullet at every turn. This has been conditioned into us and repeatedly affirmed by the 'experts' who we are encouraged to listen to and abide by, lest we be ostracized by our fellow followers.

Guilty as charged! I too have marched in their ranks while believing what I have been told and justifying my action by everyone else's compliance, right or wrong. If everyone gets a magic band aid for their scraped knees, it must be the correct thing to do, right? But it's even worse; I am a fixer.

My reaction to any problem I encounter has always been to fix it myself, provide an answer or solution, or at the very least apply a soothing balm. Of course this was always well intentioned as it was delivered with the assumption that I knew what I was talking about, or had the ability to examine all the ‘real’ (meaning ‘effective’) alternatives. Cog describes this tendency in me as my "management issues."

I now recognize that this desire to solve things I perceive as ‘wrong’ has dragged me into situations where my time is over-committed, others have unrealistic expectations of me and there are wheelbarrows full of unreciprocated efforts and favors that have left me at a loss to fully comprehend.

There are numerous problems with being a ‘fixer'. Just because a solution is correct for me doesn't mean it will work for you. I have been repeatedly schooled in this area over the past few years when several natural remedies that worked wonders for me either failed to work for someone else after I recommended them, or worse, made them ill. This is why I now attempt to discuss wellness and healthcare in terms of what I have found applies to me, what I do and what others have found that applies to them. Hopefully readers can then use those discussions as places to begin investigating for themselves, particularly since everyone's health is unique.

An obvious drawback to providing answers is the risk of being flat out wrong. After the stock market plunge in late 2008 and early 2009, I examined every aspect of the crisis situation I could find. By the time the second wave of massive money printing (Quantitative Easing) rolled around, I had advised several people to sell (short) company stock in a market that was clearly unsustainable. I failed to fully understand that the unsustainable can actually be sustained much longer than appearances would suggest. Not only was my ego crushed, but this mistake completely discredited me with my family and friends, particularly when I spoke about other events I saw coming down the road. While I offered reliable steps to help mitigate the effects of something wicked this way comes, financial and otherwise, I was mostly ignored because of my poor past performance. My ultimate mistake was not being wrong, just disastrously early.

But in my opinion the most dramatic problem with looking for an instant answer, the so-called magic bullet (or worse, being the person who provides the magic) is the transfer of responsibility from the recipient of the 'solution' to me. It can all start out well intentioned. Perhaps a family member gets into a financial tight spot. Not wanting to see them suffer a ding on their credit, we naturally step in to help out. Before you know it the same thing happens again and again, and suddenly we find ourselves relied upon as the never ending emergency rescue bank. When we finally say no we are seen as the bad guy, when the original intention and action was always intended just to help.

ask a better questionThis is not what I thought it would be.

But let’s carry this thinking one step further. If we rely upon the so-called 'experts' for our solutions, as we are fully expected to do, we can then shift the blame for just about everything we do onto that expert. If the cure fails, it is medical incompetence or malpractice. If the investments tank, blame the broker or advisor. Does the car break down repeatedly? Blame the garage, the mechanic, the manufacturer or the shyster who sold it to you. Are the children dumbed down? Then point to the school system, social media, or the parents if the kids aren’t yours.

Relying upon answers from people other than ourselves can be even trickier than it appears. For example, if a person knows or strongly suspects that much of the information from the mainstream media is biased, misleading, or flat out wrong, they often turn to the alternative media for information and answers. Once immersed, they learn about hidden agendas and social ills perpetrated against society by the powerful for selfish gain, wealth or power. Of course those seeking answers do so hoping to mitigate or reverse these societal wrongs. But what they have really done is transferred the 'answer providing' responsibility from one source to another.

It astounds me the number of self proclaimed 'experts' in the alternative world who now seem to be providing almost as much destructive information as the parties they often rail against. Their ill formed opinions and blind accusations with no actual foundation other than what someone else said or wrote are incredibly misleading and destructive.

Worse, we assume that these highly opinionated voices, who wag their finger and lecture us, are actually giving us reliable information. By listening to their solutions and making our own decisions based upon what they tell us without even acknowledging that many of these alternative groups have themselves been infiltrated by disinformation agents, we have once again relieved ourselves of any accountability whatsoever for the bad information we have absorbed and re-disseminated.

I am not suggesting for a minute that we ignore information presented from the 'alternative media'. What I am proposing is that we each step back and look at how we are arrive at the opinions we form and how we arrive at the subsequent decisions we make as a result.

We humans are herd animals. It feels good to be praised and accepted for our decisions and actions. Confirmation endorphins feel good. We receive the pat on the back and kudos of approval from our fellow herd members because when we agree with them, we are not only validating our position, but theirs as well. It's a big win-win... until it's not. But hey, then we can blame someone else, right?

Let's face it, the people who are making the big decisions and profits, the real movers and shakers, are just fine with you and I wasting our energies pointing fingers at a company, its CEO, our doctor or elected official. Many will say it keeps us off their doorstep with pitchforks and torches. Maybe, but I would propose that more importantly what it really does is it keeps us from developing critical thinking skills so that we may adjust our lives in order to step around many of the traps and pitfalls that control the lives of most people.

Thinking for ourselves is the most revolutionary act we can initiate. Assuming personal responsibility to learn how to critically think again, then to rely solely upon our own judgment rather than that of a mainstream or alternate group is the only way we can begin to regain that elusive sovereignty Cog goes on about.

For me, perhaps the most difficult part of (re)learning how to think critically and independently is to accept that I cannot change others. It goes back to the 'you can't make me' rant. And indeed the doctors cannot make me healthy, the investment advisors cannot make me financially secure and the producers and sellers of consumer products cannot reliably make me possess what I really need. In fact this applies all the way down the line. The politicians and police cannot make me safe, the schools cannot make me intelligent, the health gimmicks cannot make me young and healthier again, the self help gurus cannot make me enlightened and of course the alternative media cannot make me free.

These are things I must learn to do for and by myself if I am to become self reliant. Often this involves discarding or reworking ideas I have stood fast on for my entire life. I am finding that following this path means evoking deep disappointment in other people who have previously relied upon my steadfast stances which I am now reconsidering. It can be very difficult to find the strength to affirm myself as I gingerly step through all this messy baggage that suddenly appears when I re-examine myself and my past and present views and actions. Recognizing my actual lack of accountability where once I thought myself totally responsible can be very difficult at times. Humble pie isn’t always tasty.

On the other hand, it is rewarding and self affirming when I begin to make decisions for myself while I apply critical thinking. It turns out that by accepting the responsibility for the outcome of my decisions, rather than deferring to someone else's answer or fix, I actually make better decisions. When I know and accept in advance all of the consequences of my actions, I am much more careful and deliberate as I seek to avoid bad outcomes. I am beginning to embrace the understanding that he buck stops here and there is no one left to blame but myself. Ultimately I sleep better for it.

not what it seems to be

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5 thoughts on “Magic Bullets”

  1. Great article!

    Thinking for ourselves is the most revolutionary act we can initiate. Assuming personal responsibility to learn how to critically think again, then to rely solely upon our own judgment rather than that of a mainstream or alternate group is the only way we can begin to regain that elusive sovereignty Cog goes on about.

    Attempting to sift through all of the alternate media information available requires one to exert quite a bit of energy – it can be rather exhausting. It would be nice to relax and ignore external circumstances altogether, but since the system is constantly working to find new ways to steal from us one is almost required to stay abreast of external events just to have a chance at protecting assets and providing a decent quality of life for family.

    Striving to gain and maintain sovereignty sure is tough in a Ponzi world.

    1. Thank you Mr. Galt.

      I have been trying to find a way to write this down for a while. When I relay to Cog a piece of information I have learned about or become excited or upset over, he frequently responds, “how do you know?” It stops me dead in my tracks most of the time because often I don’t know how I know. If it is something I read, I cannot be sure of the fact. It “makes me” rethink the way I think about most everything. It certainly is enough to keep me from repeating most things as facts rather than potential information.

  2. I failed to fully understand that the unsustainable can actually be sustained much longer than appearances would suggest.

    Constantly baffled by this and how it applies to everything; military campaigns, places I’ve worked, poker players in some of the games I play, list is almost endless. I’ve been reading about complex adaptive systems and the concept of overshot. I’m still essentially ignorant, but the notion of exponential scales and the delay an action has until the full effect is felt, and how if will be felt(both are apparently difficult to impossible to fully quantify due to the complexity), seem to apply to this point. The analogy of a pool filling with a exponential increase is frequently used in the literature. The point at which it is half full is one step before it is completely full. I think part of why I constantly baffled by the unsustainability of things is that I think (most of us do?) in a binary sequential way, whereas may things are in fact exponential, with numerous shades of grey.

    Great article !

    1. Thanks @Tenma13

      Cog repeatedly reminds me that the drawing out of (unsustainable) affairs to last even longer, as complex as the pieces may be, is a simple confidence game. For instance, I may know my money is not real, worthless debt notes printed by the Treasury/Fed, but I still have confidence it will pay for my groceries today and tomorrow. As long as we continue to believe in fairies Peter Pan… er.. believe our money has purchasing power, the system will push forward another day. And another. And another. (Sigh.)

  3. Hello, Mrs. C:

    A great many things to ponder, here. . . and, as always, much pithy thinking from the distaff side of the Cog-duo. My compliments on your very disarming honesty regarding having to re-think your positions on lots of things, as well as revising your coping mechanisms. You aren’t alone, believe me.

    Coming to grips with the reality we’re all facing as this ship takes on water is beyond daunting. So much to re-evaluate and move off of . . . and onto an adjacent chunk of ice!

    Steady as she goes, I think. Keep breathing and know there are others out here who are, themselves, having to continually make course corrections and face uncomfortable facts as all the BS peels away.

    P/E-M later,
    L/L

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