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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    You can’t have it your way

    We keep arguing over potential solutions to the problems we’ve caused in our world. Invariably, we look to science for those solutions, believing that there is a perfect solution there if only science could find it. In fact, there is an excellent solution, but it’s one that we can’t ever believe because it says something that contradicts everything our national ethos tells us to believe.

    The solution is to change our behavior.

    This seems like quite a logical answer until we think of it in practical terms, and then we realize that what it really means is that we can’t always have what we want. In a nation of “”Have It Your Way,”” where “”you”” were Time magazine’s Person of the Year, where 11 million plastic surgery procedures were performed last year

    – not having what we want just doesn’t seem fair.

    Take, for example, the energy crisis. What will we do once the Earth’s supply of fossil fuels runs out? As the debate goes on, it becomes obvious that each option has its benefits – and drawbacks. Nuclear power? Nuclear waste. Solar power? Costly, for starters.

    In fact, there is no answer, no perfect source of cheap, unlimited energy – because energy can’t be created out of nothing, and the world just can’t support the amount of energy the West demands.

    We have to change our behavior and accept that we can’t live in the energy inferno that we prefer – but we just can’t bear the idea of putting on a sweater rather than inching up our thermostat. We can’t bear the idea of walking to the supermarket rather than driving. We can’t bear the idea of just putting up with being a little bit too hot in the summer, rather than cranking up the A/C to maximum.

    There are facts that are understandably more difficult to accept. In July, the Institute of Medicine issued a report deploring the high rate of premature births in the U.S., a problem which, due to increased mortality for premature babies, contributes largely to our nation’s scandalously high infant mortality rate (0.6 percent). It attributed the problem to, among other things, infertility treatments, which often result in multiple births, increasing the chance of premature labor.

    Considering that babies born premature are at increased risk of disabilities including “”cerebral palsy, mental retardation, visual and hearing impairments, behavior and socio-emotional concerns””; considering that 122,872 reproductive technology procedures were performed in 2003 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control; and considering that 51 percent of babies born as a result of those procedures were multiple births, it might be time to consider the unthinkable: that, although having children is a right, our bodies don’t know that.

    Sometimes, perhaps, we should take in a child that’s already alive and that needs a home, rather than wreck our and our children’s bodies and hearts with efforts to be biological parents.

    Perhaps, considering that the 122,872 procedures that were performed resulted in only 48,756 children, we should try to accept that sometimes, no matter how much we want it, we can’t have that thing that we desire.

    We should do this because when we believe we should have everything we want, we end up facing the inevitable disappointment that comes when things aren’t so perfect.

    For proof of that, look to Denmark. For more than 30 years, this country – not exactly a balmy paradise – has scored the highest of every nation in Europe on a survey of life satisfaction or happiness. Last December, researchers concluded that the Danes’ secret was actually their low expectations. After all, if you don’t expect much, then you’re bound to be “”pleasantly surprised,”” as the researchers put it.

    Perhaps our culture that depicts perfection in movies and TV shows, that promises perfect solutions to problems and thoroughly agrees that you shouldn’t have to put on a sweater in winter rather than nudge up that thermostat, actually creates such high expectations in us that we’re bound for disappointment and dissatisfaction.

    Perhaps if we learned to accept the un-ideal, we’d actually be happier.

    In any case, our halcyon days of having everything we want will, sooner or later, be coming to an end. In 50 years, if we want some nice fresh fish direct from the sea, it’ll be too bad, because there won’t be any. In 50 years, if we want to drive a big old SUV with a bonfire of petroleum inside, it’ll be too bad, because there won’t be any.

    So, if we aren’t ready to accept the fact that there are some things we can’t have, we’d better learn to be.

    We’d better start remembering how to adapt – to live in a world where, sadly, shockingly, we can’t always have it our way.

    Lillie Kilburn is a psychology sophomore. She can be reached at

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