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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Illusion of Safety

The illusion of safety is one that is consistently used to get people motivated to do something. It can be health-- take this vitamin and live longer or better. It can be physical attack-- let the government regulate everything and you will live longer and better. It can be a religion-- do what we say and you at least get heaven even if not living longer and better. It can involve environment, culture, or just us. The promises and implied threats are the same.

Can there be such a thing as security or safety on earth? Is the whole concept of safety an illusion used by some to get others to fall in line?

No matter how well you maintain your body, no matter what your genetics, illnesses can come from out of nowhere to knock you off your feet. There is no real safety even in a yearly physical as it cannot catch many things until there are symptoms. You can check blood pressure, do blood tests, and those are good; but in the end, there is no such thing as a medical physical that can guarantee good health.

The environment is another where you constantly hear people saying mankind is causing global warming; and if they don't do such and such by this date, it'll be too late. Well here's the thing. I think being responsible environmentally makes sense for many reasons, not the least of which are the consequences if we are influencing global warming; but we live 'on' this earth. Although we often exploit its resources, we have no real control over anything big that could take us right out of the picture. That includes from space like meteorites, from under the ground like earthquakes, poisonous gases, or changes in climate that have been happening from the start and likely will come again. One well placed meteorite and we will join the dinosaurs.

The government cannot keep us safe from terrorist attacks no matter how many code oranges or purple they put out there. Those are usually caught, when they are, through good police work, through informants or spies on the inside, and sometimes purely by alert citizens. Such attacks cannot be totally stopped. Random crime cannot be stopped.

People go nuts over any terrorist attack and are ready to give away all their liberties to keep themselves safe, but getting into the family automobile and driving to the grocery store has many times the risk. What should we do about that?

(Incidentally I think creating a Department of Homeland Security, with its lousy name, was a farce from the start, and should be eliminated as a duplication (at the least) of what other agencies should have already been doing. It doesn't matter which party controls it. It was a bad idea that can be fixed by ending it-- not that government ever seems to end anything bad idea or not.)

Safety is an illusion. We can be responsible. We can be alert. But we should never give away our freedoms for some vague promise of safety, nor should we let dire threats dissuade us from what we know is the right thing to do. We also should not put off quality living for a vague maybe someday.

If mankind's first travelers to new lands around the world had wanted safety, people would all be clustered wherever they were born and likely dying of overpopulating diseases.

It is not easy to put fear away from us but living life fully and totally each day with an awareness that each moment we are living is all we can be guaranteed leads to a much better moment. Don't trade off quality moments for vague promises. And especially don't trade off our children's freedoms for a promise that nobody can deliver.

(Digital painting is of swans who often winter in a large grassfield not so far from the farm. They don't worry about or even think of a distant concept like safety. They do what they can for the moment. They follow their instincts, take reasonable precautions for where they sleep or spend time, but, so far as we know, worrying about safety is not on their agenda. We don't gain safety for our worrying.)


Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Since I was a child, we have been asked to do so much in the name of safty when there was really very low real threat.

Politicians use fear to win voters over to their side. Fear is an easy way of promoting themselves before serving others.

Paul said...

Our safety is relative at best. We can be as safety conscious as possible and be run over by a drunk as we fetch the mail down at the end of the driveway. The Department of Homeland Security is another bureacracy that offers the illusion of safety.

Kay Dennison said...

I have been against Homeland security since it's beginnings. Ask thr people in New Orleans about it and I rest my case.

mandt said...

Beautiful image of marsh birds. Is that one of your paintings Rain?

Rain Trueax said...

Thank you, mandt. Yes, it's one of mine and it will be an oil as this was like a sketch to use for a basis to do a small oil but I haven't gotten to it. We watched the swans one day on our way home and took some photos but the photos didn't quite say what I wanted hence the digital painting.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

I think every human being has some form of existential anxiety; it even has a code in the DSM. I loved Jerald Jampolsky's old book "Love is Letting Go of Fear" based on A Course in Miracles.

Somehow most of us simply learn to live with the cosmic roulette that I call life. Institutions tend to play on our fears in order to control us, but I'd like to think that my own church I attend now is not one of them.

Baby steps, a day at a time, try to stay optimistic and shove down my natural cynicism. That's how I survive.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

How true Rain. If we just look to The Animals and think about how they survive and as you say---They don't worry about all this stuff. They are just trying to get from one moment to the other and live their lives...!
There is no promise of anything in this world--all you have to do is look at Haiti and know---nothing is safe; nothing is promised.

Annie said...

Love the painting! They must be trumpeters? A few whistling swans overwinter in Toronto, they're a bit smaller.

Good point about the illusion of safety. We think we can protect ourselves through extravagant safety measures, but we can't. I guess the problem is in knowing where to draw the line.

Fear is a very big motivator, nasty when politicians use it to manipulate people.

Rain Trueax said...

We also think they are trumpeters although they supposedly don't come down this far. These though are not seen everywhere in the valley and this area is the Coast Range side of the Willamette Valley and not far from a small river. The whistlers would be more expected here but based on beak and size, they seem to be trumpeters.

Mike McLaren said...

I remember "duck and cover." My desk would keep me safe from an earthquake, even nuclear attack. I take precautions whenever I leave the house, knowing that it's entirely possible to come home and find that a blown fuse burned down the old house down. As for being environmentally conscious, I do that not for my sake, but for the sake of future generations; I do my best to help protect them, but I'm not doing well enough to keep them safe.