I’m still thinking about Magically Delicious by Robyn Peterman (although I’ve moved on to Blood Vow by JR Ward, so stay tuned for posts from that deep well). As we talked about in my last post, our protagonist, Zelda, has been charged with restoring the magical balance of her town in West Virginia, which has been disrupted by a pervasive sense of evil that no one can pin down. It turns out that the source of the evil is a magical substance that nullifies paranormal powers. When Zelda discovers the creator of this substance she is understandably miffed, and convinced that the creator, Marge, is as evil as her creation. But Marge takes issue with this condemnation, explaining that no substance or tool is inherently bad, because it’s all about the application. As an example, she cites the development of nuclear energy.
Now, I’m going to have to digress here a bit, because the snarky fact checker who lives in my brain is compelled to point out that her analogy is incorrect. I think what Ms. Peterman is saying is that nuclear energy was developed for peaceful applications and to provide clean and inexpensive power to a world in need. And that this benevolent concept was corrupted by evil people who made war, not love. As this concept is the central tenet of the book, I’ve got to take issue with that tenet … and thus I will continue this digression…..
Nuclear weapons were actually developed before nuclear energy. The US initiated the Manhattan Project in response to Nazi Germany’s heavy water experiments. At the behest of Albert Einstein (yep, old Albert convinced FDR to build the bomb). Anyhoo, nuclear energy was developed as a peaceful application of weapons of mass destruction, not the other way around. Look it up.
And so ends my digression. Now, back to our regularly scheduled post….. Assuming Ms. Peterman was historically accurate in her analogy (and really, how many paranormal romance readers care one way or the other?), her argument is tantamount to the axiom, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Which is true as far as it goes, of course, but is seriously flawed in all sorts of ways.
In my view, human nature dictates that if something can be used for ill it will be –and only that it might be used for good. The concept of nuclear power gave us Hiroshima and also lots of clean energy (as long as no tsunamis hit the reactor, and then all aspirations to cleanliness and safety go out the window). Guns can provide food and protection, in the right circumstances and situations. But all too often, guns are the mechanism for death and destruction. So where is the balance?
As you may have guessed from any number of my posts, my political and social leanings take a sharp left after arriving at center. I’m a proponent of gun control and truly do not understand how even common sense restrictions cannot be passed by various state or national legislative bodies. Yes, I understand that guns don’t point and shoot by themselves, but more guns equal more opportunity for accidents and impulsive expressions of lethal violence.
So, while I don’t like Ms. Peterson’s analogy, I don’t disagree that she may be onto something. We all know the saying, “It’s not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean that counts.” And, once again, that is true as far as it goes, but it probably doesn’t go far enough. The question of how we use something is complicated. Even more difficult to grapple with is the Aladdin problem: once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s almost impossible to put back in. Given that, doesn’t it make sense to avoid rubbing the stupid bottle in the first place? Is it best to leave that bad boy trapped and cramped for the greater good? I don’t know. Is it even possible that we humans, knowing something is possible, would eschew the potential? Not hardly. We are a curious species, even cognizant of the attendant danger to our feline friends.
We are also a species that is compelled to ‘keep up with the Kardashians’. If someone else has something, we want it too, which is why there are so many damned nuclear weapons in the world. Not to mention guns. And, again, volume breeds vulnerability. In these kinds of cases, more is definitely not merrier. More weapons mean more death. More lethal weapons mean a lot more death. It’s a pretty straightforward equation.
But I’m also an intellectual and I believe in the free flow of ideas. So quelling knowledge or exploration or problem solving or any other kind of creativity is totally anathema to me. Thus, I guess after all this, and despite any historical inaccuracies she may have promulgated, I am coming down on the side of Marge. That genie has got to be free – just like the rest of us. To make our choices (there they are again) for good or evil, and to live with the consequences. And if that is what we have to do, we also have to believe, as Marge did when she hid herself away to await more like-minded company, that Martin Luther King, Jr. was right, and that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Bend, baby, bend.