A Separate Path

A Journey of Self-Creation

Snake Oil Demand

Snake Oil Demand

When the world seems to be in turmoil, a demand for solutions is created. We want a remedy.

True solutions usually take in-depth study of the problem that result in big system changes. Unfortunately, asking for patience and for change does not satisfy the need we feel.

If there is a question without an answer, there is a demand. In comes a salesperson to peddle their wares.

They tell you how they know the problem and how to fix it. It is simple really; all you need is this snake oil applied topically twice a day and all your problems go away.

I am not just talking about mythical medicines and fake treatments, though there are plenty. The scope of this issue is further reaching.

There are charlatans with false solutions taking advantage of the desperate in every corner. Public leaders, politicians, and religious leaders, to name a few.

No matter what the problem or proposed solution, the marketing is always the same. It is made up of the same ingredients every time.

  1. Tell a story emphasizing the problem. Make sweeping statements that paint a picture to heighten the demand.
  2. Build credit. Tell people how smart, influential, and successful you are. Obviously, you are so great they need to listen to you. Do not forget to make them feel like you are one of them. If they are going to trust you, you need to be relatable.
  3. Cast blame. The solution is so simple, but there are those that want to keep you from it! They are not looking for solutions, they know what we need to do, and here is why they will not do it. It is their fault, not yours. You are an innocent victim in all this.
  4. Offer the magic solution. You do not have to stop what you are doing or change how you think about something. Instead apply this magic formula! One simple task is all it takes, and now you are making the magic happen.

Once you have been sold on it you feel a sense of relief. You believe the issue will be solved and your contribution is making it happen.

Because you believe, it does not matter that your solution has no effect. As the problem persists, every small change for the better becomes exaggerated and viewed as evidence.

When the situation becomes worse, as is usually the case when problems are not solved, it is out of focus and easily dismissed.

If the problem does not fade into the background, you might question your salesperson.

“It’ll get worse before it gets better.”

“Give it time to work. If you still don’t see progress in a few weeks, come back to me and we’ll look deeper.”

“How are you applying the solution? . . . Oh, well that’s why it’s not working for you, apply it this way instead.”

“What do you mean? Of course it is working! Here is a list of all the progress since we started.”

And you keep going back and it does not work. The problem spreads. Your hate and distrust for the villains you believe are working against you grows.

This problem is self-perpetuating. There is no one person to blame. It happens all over the world to millions of people. It is a result of need and ignorance.

It would be easy to point the finger at the salespeople, yet the blame does not sit solely on their shoulders. They did not trick you, or the millions. They did not make the demand.

They were chosen and believed because people have been taught to listen to others, rather than discover and think for themselves. It is more comfortable to think that someone has it all figured out, than to question and investigate.

Those that invest in the salesperson become their biggest advocates. Once the person has the numbers behind them, they have gained credibility. Others begin to wonder if the person really does have the answers.

Without the demand for a leader, or a person who has figured it out, the person yelling in the streets about the magical properties of their snake oil would be dismissed entirely.

They would be just another crazy person begging for your pocket change. Instead, you take the deceitful person with the made-up answers and hand him the keys to the kingdom.

I am not telling you all this to cast blame on you or anyone. In fact, it is a fault that we all carry.

There is a Buddhist teaching that when you are shot with an arrow and wounded, it is better to tend to the wound than find the one who shot you.

The flawed logic is the issue, so fix it. It is within your power to heal this wound within yourself. Only then can we stop shopping for answers and begin discovering them.

Stop casting blame and spreading hatred, and instead let’s find solutions together.

I want you to understand, investigate, and think so that you do not invest in the next charlatan that you cross.

 

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