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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.)