Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Searching The Silver Bullet

The term "silver bullet" was introduced to our lexicon in the early '50s, and adopted into a general metaphor, where "silver bullet" refers to any straightforward solution perceived to have extreme effectiveness.

This from the Phrase Finder: "The belief in the magical power of silver, especially of weapons made from silver, is very ancient. Book XVI of Horace's Odes has it that the Delphic Oracle advised Philip of Macedonia to 'fight with silver spears'. References to the use of silver bullets date from the late 17th century. An early 19th century citation which specifically mentions the belief in their use as the only way to kill evil supernatural beings is found in Sir Walter Scott's Tales of My Landlord."

Later, the Lone Ranger left silver bullets behind as calling cards: a symbol of justice, law and order, and to remind himself and others that life, like silver, has value and is not to be wasted or thrown away.

The phrase today typically appears with an expectation that some new technological development or practice will easily cure a major prevailing problem – a 'miraculous fix'.

Perhaps just like any seemingly simple, direct and effortless solution, the actual anatomy itself is a bit more complex than what we initially perceive. Cutting through complexity and providing an immediate solution to a problem – your seemingly singular bullet – may, in fact, be made up of many parts that all work together.

And there are no unimportant parts.