December 14, 2005

Bumper Sticker Patrol, Installment #2

The rear of the pickup truck is plastered with stickers and stencils for women's martial arts. "Sun Dragon Womens Martial Arts." "" In one corner is a bumper sticker with the famous quotation from Einstein: "You cannot simultaneously prepare for and prevent war."

Huh? The chief idea of martial arts is that you prevent violent encounters by preparing for them. You learn to handle yourself in a fight so that, if a potentially violent situation ever arises, you can defuse it, or can walk away with your dignity intact, or if necessary can deter the opponent while doing the least possible physical damage.

You prevent adversity by preparing for it. There is no other way.

That Einstein quote has always seemed to me to be the stupidest thing a genius ever said. It's like saying, "You cannot simultaneously prepare for and prevent disease," or, "You cannot simultaneously prepare for and prevent household accidents."

Cute rhetorical flourishes -- the parallelism of "prepare" and "prevent," the false either/or choice of prevention versus preparation, the misplaced appeal to expert opinion -- do not make a statement true.

Does the truck driver not believe that what she enacts locally also applies globally?