Family Works: Speaking on desensitization
by ROB COOMBS ID. Min. Ph.D.
May 18, 2014 | 991 views | 0 0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’m not sure how it was discovered and certainly have no interest in repeating the experiment, but I am told that if you take a frog and toss him into a pot of boiling water, he will immediately jump to safety as soon as his little feet hit the surface of the boiling water. But if you take the same frog and place him in a pot of cold water and heat the water slowly, he will continue to swim around until he cooks. The result of this experiment, unfortunate as it may be for our poor green friend, has interesting implications for all of us — so interesting to social scientists that this phenomenon has actually been give a label: The Boiled-Frog Syndrome.

Do we, like frogs, have the sense to jump out of a pot of boiling water? Without a doubt. Not many of us would risk even our big toe. Are we, like our little green friend, content to swim in circles while our pot of water gradually heats to a boil? I’m not sure. There are many indications that we are swimming in a gradually heating pot and although some may complain occasionally about the temperature, few of us appear to be doing much about it.

As we swim around, perhaps we should ask questions that attune our senses. A few of the questions I have asked may be similar to your own.

Are we headed for boiling water when 1 out of 3 children goes to sleep without a father in the home?

Are we headed for boiling water when shows like Jerry Springer can air on the public airwaves?

Are we headed for boiling water when sex occurs 24 times more often outside marriage than inside marriage on afternoon soap operas?

Are we headed for boiling water when nearly 20 percent of our children in Bradley County schools fail even to graduate from high school?

Are we heading for boiling water when little thought is given to throwing a cigarette butt out a car window, a cigarette butt that will take 10 years to decay?

Are we headed for boiling water when the major money maker for the Internet is pornographic material?

Are we headed for boiling water when 13 percent of all Americans have tried cocaine?

Are we headed for boiling water when 1 out of 4 Americans has a sexually transmitted disease by age 21?

Are we headed for boiling water when the majority of newborns last year in Chattanooga were born to unwed mothers?

There are thousands more questions to ask as we swim around, but sadly we can keep swimming and asking questions until it’s too late. The water is already much hotter than most of us would have dared risk placing even our big toe in 20 years ago. But conditions have changed so gradually over time; we have heated so gradually that we find ourselves hardly noticing many disturbing changes taking place.

Of course, there are several options available. We can continue to swim silently around in our pot until we are cooked. Or, we can scream and yell until we are cooked. Or, we can at least recognize the increasing temperature and do what we can to turn down the temperature.

If you choose the third option (my personal favorite), recognize there is much you can do. You can reduce the heat by choosing to be a constructive force both privately and publicly for a healthier, safer and cleaner world. Such a choice sure beats boiling.