Should you, say, be strolling down Yankee Doodle Road or checking out the glories of Thomas Lake Park and find yourself suddenly face-to-face with a werewolf (not that there have been any reported sightings of werewolves in either place, but play along with me on this), you’ll want to have a silver bullet with you (OK, I admit, you’ll also want a gun to shoot that silver bullet). According to tradition, a silver bullet is the only weapon that is effective against werewolves. But one silver bullet will do the job.
Unfortunately there are no silver bullets effective against the real werewolves that threaten us these days.
Take, for example, the problem of gun violence (admittedly an ironic place to start when using this particular metaphor). Sentiment to take some action on this matter was galvanized by the tragic school shootings in Newtown, CT, last month. What’s the answer? Some say gun control. Others say armed guards in schools. Better mental health services. Intact families. Who’s right? Maybe they all are, though I remain unconvinced that armed guards in all schools would be a good idea. The point is that there is no one single simple answer that will solve this problem. I strongly believe in gun control and hope for governmental action on this subject, but gun control along will not solve the problem. Problems are complex, and the answers are also complex.
The nation’s budget difficulties are another example. Some suggest that reduced spending would be the silver bullet to get us back in the black. Others say increased taxes. Depending on how you want to put it, they are either both right or both wrong. The road to financial health for our nation includes both cutting spending and increasing revenues.
On a more personal level, thousands of us made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. How is that best done? Some rely on increased exercise, slogging along hour after hour on that old treadmill. Others advocate changing one’s diet, cutting the fatty foods and adding healthy foods. Once again, they are either both right or both wrong. Research has shown over and over again that effective weight loss includes both exercise and diet.
A famous quote from H. L. Mencken says that “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” If a problem is complex, as most of the problems of the modern world are complex, the answer to that problem will also be complex.
I’m not worried about running into that werewolf. I don’t believe in werewolves.
I also don’t believe in silver bullets.