Voodoo dolls nothing but a dark curse on society

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2013-10-19 0:58:01

Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT

A number of Chinese white-collar workers, and well-dressed but completely stressed-out young women in particular, have taken to a rather odd way of amusing themselves or relieving pressure, it seems.

They are buying heaps of voodoo dolls online and are obsessing over the black magic rituals associated with them.

By piercing needles into the dolls and placing curses on others - their difficult superiors who are blamed for making their life a living hell at work - these employees believe they are tapping into otherworldly superstitious powers that will solve their problems.

A search for "voodoo dolls" on Taobao, China's largest e-commerce store, will instantly bring up a number of vendors selling the dolls. Mostly made in Thailand, the dolls being sold online start at about 15 yuan ($2.40).

The origins of voodoo have been traced back to West Africa, but since feudal times in China, people have been tapping into the indigenous religious spirit to curse one another. Such scenes are commonly shown in TV shows set in ancient China.

With the country's ancient voodoo history in mind, it becomes easier to understand why such staunch ground remains for the practices being carried out by white-collar workers today.

But it's still more than strange to think of these employees - living in a modern world with an abundance of scientific knowledge now available to them - as so wrapped up in old world beliefs.

Progress in modernity furthers the rationalization of a society, or so philosopher James K.A. Smith argues.

But developing Chinese cities have seen plenty of progress in recent years with a swelling middle class, yet the case of China's voodoo dolls appears to suggest little headway has been made in terms of becoming more rational.

As educated professionals rush home to poke their dolls with pins to place curses on the evil - perhaps their unrelenting bosses - in an effort to release their stresses, the question begs: Why is there no other rational way to cope with the pressures of modern life?

How can black magic be the answer to people's problems in this day and age? If you think the answer to such a ridiculous question could not possibly get any flakier, think again.

A white-collar worker who earned a monthly salary of 10,000 yuan-plus was caught stealing an expensive handbag at a Beijing airport on one of her many business trips in July.

Afterward, she confessed to authorities that she did it, not because she could not afford the item, but because she needed to do something crazy to release pressure.

People today have it so much better off than the generations before them - and those earlier on.

Yet for all of our new found riches and good fortune we seem more insecure and stressed out than ever.

When people are asked if they are happy, most of them respond with a sigh.

The resulting unfavorable social atmosphere has become toxic to the world in which we live and work - and trust me, no magic spell or curse will reverse these effects.

Maybe it's time for people to put down their dolls and calm their nerves with real-life solutions - chin up, first.

As destitute as their problems seem, surely they cannot be helpless enough for them to turn to dolls.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. wangwenwen@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: Viewpoint

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