Bonsai Safety? 盆栽の安全性
“Bonsai” is a Japanese term which means or denotes “a tree which is planted in a shallow container”. Having recently visited the Australian National Bonsai collection, at the National Arboretum Canberra, as part of our studies for the Graduate Certificate in the Psychology of Risk, I respect and appreciate the beautiful art of bonsai, the patience and the skill involved – but these stunted trees are not the real thing and do require very special care and maintenance!
Rob Sams recently shared an article on “Bonsai Parenting” (see the article here: Why So Many Children End Up In Therapy”). We have written lots on this blog before about “helicopter parenting” and the dangers of “wrapping in cotton wool”, likewise the problem of perfectionism and resilience (at work) see:
The article quotes the findings of clinical psychologist Judith Locke:
Locke has coined the term “bonsai child” to describe children today who are reared in extremely controlled environments and assiduously cultivated by their parents. There is an over-emphasis on the child’s happiness, and an expectation they will excel at life, which can breed anxiety and perfectionism in the child.
Locke says a bonsai upbringing stunts children’s development, as they never learn how to adapt to different or difficult circumstances. They grow up anxious, overly dependent on others, lack resilience, have poor life skills and can behave badly.
Reading the article and thinking about it in the context of the art of Bonsai, it struck me, quite violently, that this is exactly what traditional and orthodox safety is doing to us – not always intentionally but definitely as a by-product of it’s attempts to cultivate, control and perfect.
For a bit of fun, have a read of some of the techniques involved in Bonsai (I just collected these randomly off the internet) and let me know your thoughts about how these might mimic some of what happens in safety and risk – I love Nos. 4 & 10!: SCARILY SIMILAR!!!
- Cuttings will create numerous trees that are hereditarily identical to the “parent” tree or bonsai. By taking cuttings, you can create new trees from a tree that contains the characteristics you consider to be important and suitable for a bonsai tree to have. (selection process)
- From seeds you can grow rare species of bonsai trees for a relatively small price and make a massive cultivation. You can control every aspect of your tree during each stage of its development. (induction)
- Bonsai are planted in rather small pots and need to be fertilized in order to replenish the soil’s nutritional content do not over fertilize!. (bounded rationality, information overload)
- In measuring Bonsai, everyone records what is relevant to them. If you’re getting into keeping an accurate record of a trees progress then the more stats the better. (measurement)
- Make a list of your Bonsai’s faults. It may be a branch or even the pot. Acknowledging the negatives will allow you to move away from a poor design to a better one. (auditing)
- Plants that grow in pots must be re-potted from time to time. Re-potting provides a good opportunity to prune the roots and shape the plant which is intimately involved in the training of the whole bonsai plant. (training)
- Pruning must be constant and it’s necessary not only to shape but as part of the caring process. (punishment)
- Wiring is a method of bending trunks and branches using wires in order to achieve various impressive shapes. It’s very important to do it the right way, because it can be a disaster if not done properly (procedures)
- Very often an enthusiast has tried to repair a broken branch themselves and though the cambium layer repairs itself, the wound keeps reopening and is a weak point in the branch. (workers comp)
- It should be understood that for every objective such as re-potting, pruning or styling there are a 100 different techniques or viewpoints. Some are based on horticultural fact, some are based on horticultural myth and some are based on horticultural luck!! In fact many of these techniques will work to one degree or another; unfortunately though not killing your tree, some advice and/or techniques can result in diminished vigour as your trees cope under stress. (SAFETY)
I found one company that uses the Bonsai tree as a symbol of safety: “It symbolises the continuous efforts required to ensure HSEQ” – Ensure HSEQ is what? not sure they have thought through the semiotics of this one? See it here