When I was in high school in the 1980’s, it was right in the middle of the “Just Say No” era of anti-drug teaching. This went on to cover pretty much every abhorrent behavior you can think of. I ended up a pretty straight arrow. I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke. I did have long hair, but I didn’t take drugs. However, all of these were personal choices and most made despite the official entreaties to “just say no” to them. The problem I had back then is the same problem I have today with so-called “simple solutions”.
While there may be a simple straightforward path to the end of a particular tunnel, that doesn’t mean the journey won’t be long and arduous. Nor does it mean the end of the tunnel will mean the end of the journey. But that single word – just – makes it sound like things should be so easy to accomplish. Addicted to alcohol? Just stop drinking. Have a drug problem? Just say no. Fat? Just exercise. Just stop eating. Depressed? Just think happy thoughts.
The issues get trivialized. The simple solutions can make it sound like people actually care. It’s easy enough to point someone in the right direction. If the person can’t follow along for the rest of their lives, or some other aspect of reality makes them stumble along the way – well, that’s just because they’re bad apples. We are told there are simple answers: to the economy, to domestic issues, to personal problems. I hear how it’s a simple matter to just cut taxes or just reduce interest rates or just give a bunch of money away. Each and every one of these simple fixes has long range and long lasting consequences. I hope that as we progress through these crises that we – just – stop and think about what we’re doing.