The War is on...

The war on drugs. The war on crime. The war on terror. The war on cancer. 

Have we won any of these wars? If the definition of winning a war is that you can stop fighting, I don't think we've won any of these wars.

War is a Metaphor

Metaphors are simple ways to express complex ideas. When we declare war on something, it brings with it a slew of related methods, tools and approaches. The war on cancer leads to using weapons of mass destruction (chemical and nuclear weapons--chemo and radiation).

War Deals With Symptoms

War is designed to deal with symptoms (drug use, crime, terror, illness), but not the root causes of the problem. 

In New York City, the "broken windows" theory of crime suggested that if someone broke a window and it was left unrepaired that it became an encouragement for people to break more windows leading to more violent crimes. By fixing windows, painting "tagged" subway cars, and so on, crime was dramatically reduced. 

No battles were fought to reduce crime. People simply kept the environment clean in a way that discouraged crime. 

People turn to drugs because their life has too many broken windows. How do we repair our society's environment so that people don't end up with so many broken windows of the soul?

Time for a New Metaphor

Every metaphor has advantages and drawbacks. When a metaphor fails to produce the desired result (as these have over the decades), it's time for a new metaphor. I don't know if it's the love of cancer (a more caring, understanding way of exploring what caused it), a broken windows of the soul campaign to stop psychological damage that leads to drug abuse, or something much better. 

There are limiting metaphors all around us. When I was younger, I told someone that I wanted a passive income stream. This wise metaphorician said: "Why not an active income river?" Which would you rather have, an income stream or an income river

Maybe you can't affect the major metaphors of our time, but you can change, expand and enhance the limiting metaphors you meet in daily life. And fixing the little limiting metaphors, like fixing the broken windows in a neighborhood, will eventually lead to a transformation of the larger limiting metaphors.

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