I read a post from Montana’s now Governor without a job where he stated that safety was his #1 priority. Really? Taking risks should be our #1 priority. Read the full explanation.
Safety cannot be our #1 priority. If that were true, we would never do anything…and I mean anything.
At the heart of this idea is an often quoted founding father of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin. “Those who exchange liberty for safety, deserve neither and will lose both.”
Safetyism is the notion on full display around February/March of 2020. It went like this, “we need to stop the spread of Covid-19 (C-19).” Governors across the country implemented social distancing orders, limitations on group size, closed restaurants, movie theaters, and other social gathering venues. Masks were required and in some states, enforcement meant fines for individuals or businesses. Why? Initially, it was to flatten the curve and preserve hospital space. Restrictions were ramped up, especially in ‘blue’ states but not exclusively in blue states. Then came the virtue signaling of the highest magnitude from politicians and socialites. The horror stories of exceptional cases (statistically below significance) driving policy making in the form of, “we must stop the spread of C-19…even though it was a forgone conclusion we all would experience it. This is an admission that risk isn’t optional, it’s required. By late spring into early summer it became clear, stopping the spread was impossible. Our culture and economy was in free fall. We tried to remove risk and like synapses in the brain, the negative effects of eliminating risk left nothing untouched: economy in free fall, depression and suicide rates skyrocketed, domestic and child abuse rose, unemployment rose and continues to linger, surgeries elective and necessary postponed.
By mid-summer, we saw states loosening restrictions. We could go back to the beaches and swim in the ocean with the sharks and jellyfish. By early July another spike was upon the nation and this was larger than the spring dose. Governors began to walk back some liberties. By fall, our nation was in the grip of the highest infection rates…and yet we are not reacting as we did in the spring? Why?
Risk taking is a required, #1 priority and activity. We cannot sustain safetyism. It’s impossible to live under that premise. Under pure safetyism, we shut down businesses, halt family gatherings, puree’ our food and bubble wrap each other before getting out of bed. The reality is joy and satisfaction rests within risk, acceptable risk to be clear and fair.
Each time we get into a car we buckle up, drive on the right side of the road, yield to traffic with the right-of-way. Not BECAUSE those actions eliminate risk, because those actions reduce the risk so that I can go to work…where I take on other risks by shaking hands, writing reports, manufacturing goods, providing medical services, and eating from that crockpot of soup someone brought in from their dinner party.
Risk is what we embrace when we marry someone we don’t fully know, when we buy a used car, when we drink water. We know these things are not in our control and we choose to continue because the risk is embedded with the reward. Sharing my opinion on this blog or even having an independent thought is a risk and yet sharing these ideas provides others with choices…aka freedom. Freedom requires risk (see prior article). If safety was my #1 priority, then as the superintendent of a school district I wouldn’t have proposed a shooting sports club for ALL high schoolers who rated it #3 of preferred activities to cooking and gaming. To date, there is NOT one state HS sanctioned shooting sport in all of Montana. Why? It’s dangerous.
With risk being #1 on our list of life priorities, managing risk is daunting, important, and extremely satisfying. Within a mindset of risk taking, we share our opinions, blow out the candles without wearing a mask, and we have family gatherings. Why? Because freedom requires risk, experiencing joy requires risk…and being with the in-laws is worth the risk. In other words, the risk never takes a back seat, it just puts on a seatbelt.