The belief that the world will end if we don’t take an action, almost any action, has come to be the norm for governments. It is a dangerous state as it forces everyone to think in black and white, good guy vs. bad guy. The harm that it can do is enormous and, if you think about such moments in history, they tend to lead to authoritarian rule. People in power make decisions that are based on instinct and if those instincts are wrong, oh boy.
This is what is happening on a layer of different levels in the US government. The ISIS threat has assumed massive importance and though it should not be ignored, I can’t believe in the omnipotence of their ability to sow mayhem. On a different level, but one that means a great deal to antique dealers, is the rhetoric surrounding the plight of the elephant. What has never been fully explained by anyone is how the banning of the sale of antique ivory will save the elephant.
Hysteria has a number of downsides. The worst of them is how it undermines the confidence of people who are working to solve a problem in a rational fashion. In essence, the cry of “wolf” is self defeating and liable to disillusion an important audience. This is how a number of dealers feel about non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the World Wildlife Fund, a terrific organization, but one that is not open to compromise.
Our globalized society has distinct opportunities to do good, but not if situations are hyped on emotions and instinct. Thoughtfulness can save both time and money and be far more effective in dealing with problems. The pundits that love to talk in a black and white fashion should not be given the platforms they have as they are not looking for dialogue, they are playing to an audience that wants to hear their kind of message. The hysteria epidemic is on us. We need to take it down a notch.