The Girl Against Fluoride campaign evolved from need. The need was to create a campaign that was novel, entertaining and fun while also being educational and informative. This was because as I gave talks around the country I increasingly encountered “the eyes glazing over syndrome” as I spoke about the dangers of water fluoridation. After all it is not an easy truth to swallow, to be told that the water we are drinking contains fluoridation chemicals that have been banned for health reasons by some countries in the EU. People don’t like to be assaulted with the idea that their water, their cherished cup of tea/coffee could possibly be harming them. The Girl Against Fluoride was born as a buffer, a bridge towards eventually accepting that water shouldn’t be pumped with chemicals our bodies don’t need.
The “eyes glazing over syndrome” can come from two sources. The first one being the reaction from someone who already has their plate full and cannot possibly take on board the fact that their water is not safe. This is quite common among people who already have a lot of other problems and whose time is taken up with them. These people tend to switch off and may shelve the information for a future time. The second source comes from people who dislike uncomfortable ideas as they conflict with their established belief system. For instance, telling a person who believes that the State has their best interests at heart that the same State is putting untested chemicals into their water makes them feel uncomfortable. Even squirmy and sweaty as they back away from you. These are the people who will strive to protect the status quo, even if the status quo is harming them and will either ridicule or demonise the messenger. These are the ones who will brand you as a conspiracy theorist and will enquire about your tin foil hat. These are the ones who are deep down scared and want to hold onto their security blanket of denial. Bless.
So the question is – what can we do about this syndrome? People need multiple exposure to new information before they form new neural pathways. So initially when friends and family switch off and think you are a fluoride freak (that’s what I was called in the beginning) you just wait and see what happens when they hear it from another source and then another. The belief changes from the old story of fluoride is good for your teeth to fluoride should not be in the water and nor should it be in our toothpaste. It takes time, exposure to water fluoridation and the gradual rise in consciousness to begin to dismantle the matrix that is holding the water fluoridation in place.
People like to live in a safe and comfortable world but here in Ireland we have the uncomfortable reality that fluoride’s in our water. This is despite years of campaigning by many groups in Ireland. It is difficult when all State agencies support water fluoridation and equally most dentists and doctors. (Although I have been told that 25% of dentists don’t support it but are afraid to speak out about it as their job is threatened)
It is a challenge to suddenly try to steer a ship in a different course from that which was decided since the 60’s. Education however is key to the spread of awareness and as awareness grows consciousness increases. We cannot expect people to instantly wake up and agree with us that fluoride shouldn’t be in the water but we can present the information in such a way that doesn’t cause them to shut down with their eyes glazing over.
A person could even start with talking about how much they are enjoying filtered water. This alone can generate a conversation around water and how tap water tastes so awful in comparison. Sometimes we have to reach out to where people are at. I know this is difficult as when I first found out about the water fluoridation issue I was horrified and wanted to shout it from the rooftops and broadcast the truth on National TV. It has taken me years to learn about the psychology of change and how activism alone cannot work without the support of the public in general. We cannot frighten people into waking up to the truth but we can present it in a way that doesn’t threaten their safety and yank off their security blanket.
So, can I ask you to do two things when spreading information to potential eyes glazing over people? 1)Tell them why you are now drinking bottled or filtered tap water- you prefer the taste and feel better because of it. People always want to feel better and may be interested in chemical free water. As they have not shut down or begun to defend their pro fluoride stance, they remain open.
2) You could progress to asking people why 98% of Europe no longer add fluoride to their water.
By not listing the potential side effects of fluoride you are keeping the conversation flowing.
The real solution is to educate the next generation who will not accept water fluoridation and will change the policy for good. It is up to us all to nurture our children so that en masse they will demand change. Toleration of water fluoridation then will become history, a history during which we will all have played our part.
Inspire to change
Let me know if any of these ideas work. You could even have a coffee morning with fluoride free coffees and ask your friends if they notice a difference. Upload pictures of your fluoride free coffee morning and inspire people to change. How much easier it is when they can learn from a place of joy. So get out the best ware, make some gorgeous cupcakes and let the coffee, tea and information flow…..