I’m not one for clichés, but I heard one in the context of a meeting that struck me as interesting. I was trying to resolve an issue between warring factions within an agency when someone said to me, “Look, this whole thing is because people don’t understand. Because they don’t understand what we’re trying to do, they’re making mountains out of molehills.” He continued speaking, but I stopped listening because his statement struck me as accurate: When people don’t understand something, they tend to became afraid of it. But, once they do understand, suddenly, something that appeared to be scary becomes quite simple.
In order to make molehills out of mountains requires information that can become knowledge that can in turn become understanding. And it is really is a simple a process. But all too often, I encounter people who are so loaded with naiveté and/or ignorance about a given subject that their fear has become a mountain of Himalayan perspective. More often than not, though, if they would step back and gather information about the topic at hand they would probably come to see that it isn’t even a hill.
To illustrate, most of the time when someone comes to me for something it usually involved something that involves some form of substance, usually heroin or other opiates. Now, with all the attention that celebrity heroin overdoses receive it’s not surprising to me that heroin seems like a largely pervasive scourge that’s knocking on everyone’s door. But the truth is that most people throughout the course of their day probably wouldn’t come close to a bag of heroin or a needle. Plus, heroin addiction is treatable from both a pharmacological and counseling perspective.
But, most people probably think that once someone is addicted to heroin, there’s just no hope of recovery. They’ve made heroin addiction a giant mountain in their minds and if they would step back and learn about how heroin works, its purpose, and how detox and treatment work for heroin addiction, then they would probably learn that there is hope. Now, I’m not saying that treatment is easy or that heroin addiction is not a big deal. It is. Heroin is an unregulated street drug that can be dangerous. I am saying, though, that there is a path towards recovery from a heroin addiction and understanding that path can reduce the amount of fear that comes with knowing someone is addicted to heroin.
I’m a strong advocate of education and understanding. I think that learning as much as possible about a subject will reduce any fear and prevent molehills from becoming even hills, much less mountains. I can only hope that people take the time to learn about something before they let fear impede the learning process.