… the fallacy of warnings …

time ago, my son climbing a tree

time ago, my son climbing a tree

I shudder when I hear a parent shout, ‘Don’t run into the road – you’ll be will be hit by a car,’ or, ‘Don’t climb that tree – you’ll fall.’ Understandably, parents fear for their children, and want to prevent or change reckless behaviour. Sadly, we’re lumbered with the inherited language of generations.

Even our self-talk innocently emphasises what we don’t want to happen, which is absurdly counterproductive. Notice how last words reverberate, like bad spells, a habit the media perpetuates with: Tiredness kills – Smoking kills – Alcohol kills – Fat kills – Sugar kills …

Instilling fear conjures up the feared. Fear is the real killer.

Why not say instead, ‘Keep safe by staying on the sidewalk,’ or, when climbing, ‘Have a good grip on the branches,’ or, when driving, ‘Stay awake’ …  Specific guidelines might be helpful too, like – when smoking do so in moderation and with respect for others, or, before you drink alcohol make sure you have some food in your belly, and prevent dehydration by also drinking water. There seems to be nil awareness about the effect of language when disseminating new statistical information.

Why are research-findings reduced to data and trivialised? Why the continuous projections of bad faith instead of life-enhancing messages?  What has happened to the tremendous innovations that poured out of Humanity studies?

my art

my art

I want school curriculums to include bridging subjects, like studying the process of one’s thinking, the structure of language, psychodynamics, body awareness, child development, conflict resolution, effective communication, and lots of practical stuff about energy, money, how things work, and so on. I want there to be space in schools for ‘HOW’ questions, the process of change, paradox, play, and the mystery of identity.

Nerja, rock in water

Does one have to become an outcast in order to free oneself from fixed notions and develop curiosity and creative thinking? Innovators tend to shy away from academics and scientists who, who, maybe dependent on research grants, don’t take the time to reflect on their attitudes or study overlapping subjects that would gain them a wider perspective, and often end up dismissing people’s actual experience and intuitive hunches.

That’s my moan for today. I’m having a mini existential crisis about the state of the world.

I need a happy pill, a placebo will do fine …

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24 responses to “… the fallacy of warnings …

  1. Well when you take your pill I just hope you don’t have alcohol with it, you know that can end badly!!!!!

    Another thought provoking post.. I guess hold tight is better than don’t climb eh !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Lang

    Hi Ashen, schönes Foto von Jeshen, wie ein Vogel in der Freiheit, musste an das Lied denken „..über den Wolken muss die Freiheit wohl grenzenlos sein…“ er ist fast dran!…

    LbG Barbara

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree Ashen – too many dont’s and no’s and those ultra dreadful warnings – this kills, that kills, beware, be careful, be this be that and on and on it goes instilling fear in all of us, from our poor little kidlings up, using the same tired, worn out language of which we’re not even aware of the damaging consequences.

    I’m in the middle of drafting a post about fear – of the unknown, within. And how we project that onto the outside world, and others. Will probably put it up tomorrow – or the next day. Thanks for your post, enlightening reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for this excellent post. Sadly, following in the footsteps of past generations is a hard habit to break. I’m guilty of the negative warnings, and I definitely see and know of the benefit of changing my thinking and ways. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Gwynn. Changing attitudes is hard, but possible, easier than changing the beliefs of generations befor us. The latter go deep, and I continuously struggle with their idiosyncracy. Thanks for leading me to your refreshing site …


  5. Drive carefully < Enjoy your drive
    Don't hit the ball high < Shoot the ball along the ground
    Don't play golf with that cold it may get worse < Better to play golf today your cold may get better.

    Love and care often equate to worry. Yes we are all guilty of thrusting our own circumstances upon the innocent possibly due to education or the lack of it.
    Politics today, as with years gone by I suspect, is riddled with the cancer of breaking things down and worrying the population for the reasons of seeking power.
    Institutions are both established on fear and destroyed by it.
    "Fear" the great motivator.
    The value of fear, as with swearing, has lost it's potency. There was a time when the use of "F***" was held back until something of genuine value was gauged as worthy of such a terrible word.
    So too with fear. As you rightly point out Ashen, habitually we use fear more to reflect our own personal worries than give reasonable warning of impending harm.
    I share with you the need to establish correct and appropriate training in the use of the language of fear. It is not for any adult under the guise of love and care, to put fear and worry in the minds of the innocent. Adults must, as adults, take responsibility for their language by respecting others and also showing outer respect for themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughts. B.
      Fear in itself must be wired in us as a survial mechanism. But the way fear is instilled subliminally is messing up societies and can best be brought to awareness in educational settings, including ways of how to deal with natural and understandable anger constructively. I wrote a poem this morning.

      The need to belong
      To another
      A place
      A group
      An idea
      A song
      Is strong
      The need to belong
      Can demand a high price
      And make a child please
      Those it fears
      Because alone it is prey
      To the loop of rage inside
      And the loss of hope


      • Yes, well versed Ashen.
        Being different to the pack as depicted in ‘The Outsider’ can be dangerous.
        Equally, the desire to be accepted can be just as life threatening. It can kill you at age 5 and see
        you carry on at the rate of the pack until, finally; you are buried at 80.
        Strive to make a difference – but not so much it threatens the status quo.
        Powerful poem that Ashen.B

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a topic very close to my heart. My own background was full of negative warnings, and I grew up to be a very frightened adult. Have you read a book by Robert Holden and Louise Hay, called ‘Life Loves You’. In it the author makes the point that one of the first and most insistent words we hear as toddlers, is “No.” I despair at all the negative warnings in the UK. All you need is ride on the Tube to be overwhelmed by warnings about cancer, strokes, heart attacks, etc. It’s one thing to be informed, it’s another to focus exclusively on danger.


    • My mother grew fairly anxious during my toddler stage. I was a tear away. Fortunately she also had a business to run, so I gained a little distance and could compare her with other mothers.
      There’s a shaming streak in many societies, a habit so subtle and all-pervading, it’s impossible not to be affected by it. Maybe the hunger for sensational bad news is based on a need for diversion and release of this inner pressure of not being good enough we’re all familiar with. It’s therefore convenient when some others, out there, let rip, and act out the madness and the rage. For such interpretation to assume meaning one would have to accept the concept of a collective unconscious.
      For one individual or a small group to recognise their personal anger and transform this energy in constructive ways may not seem to affect the collective, then again, the psyche operates by different laws. A small flame can light up a whole cave.


  7. elainemansfield

    I’m having my own crisis about the state of the world’s health and the state of my government, education, health care, environment, and so much more. Especially after seeing latest news on climate change. We have lost our way and it feels less and less likely that we’ll find it. Catastrophic thinking. Don’t do that!!!
    A cloud of hopelessness settles in until I walk in my forest. I can list the species that have died from new illnesses and pests since I moved here 45 years ago. I can tell you the many ways I’m trying to protect them. Sometimes all I can do is take in the beauty and healing of what remains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome dear warrior. We try. I tried to safe an Oakwood, a community, and set up life enhancing projects … we create and protect what we love. Grief is unavoidable, for the failures, greed, misunderstandings and the waste of potential, unless one lives in a Wolkenkuckucksheim. The grief comes and goes in waves. But as long is there is beauty I feel nourished. Without beauty our kind would perish.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. As an educator I’d love to see those included in the curriculum. Unfortunately, the curricula is written by traditionalists and the need to exam for university. Also, the curriculum is so jammed pack there’s no time to even linger on a subject otherwise you are constantly rushing through the lessons.


    • It’s been my great pain. Time to think has become costly.
      I admire teachers, working in the uncomfortable position of sitting between two chairs, in the way that education has really two quite different meanings:
      … “educare,” … to train or to mold, and “educere,” … to lead out.
      Like the article indicates … the system does not ‘lead out.’ prepare a new generation for the changes that are to come–readying children to create solutions to problems yet unknown …
      To achieve a balance would need a restructuring of our educational systems. How? Needs a revolution, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You are so right about all the negative warnings we hear, and say every day. I’m guilty of this, also. I’m going to try to remember some better ways of saying ‘be careful’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I struggle as well 🙂 every moment of remembering a better way is a victory over old thinking.


  11. I love the photo of your son up a tree, it reminds me of the adventures my brothers and I had. I still believe we learned some important lessons about our ability to cope with the world when we were out of the supervision of our parents.

    But I also see how frightening the world must look to parents, and how fragile children seem high up in those branches. Good post, raises some interesting points.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Cath. I love it when readers re-discover posts that have sunk into the archives.
      Children who are given the opportunity for adventures in nature during their early years are nourished for life. I had that gift, and so had my son.
      Schools and parents should have this enchanting book with practical projects – Sharing Nature with Children – by Joseph Bharat Cornell (first published 1979)


  12. I enjoyed rreading this


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