On The Illusion Of Safety

We live in a dangerous world where risk is an omnipresent factor, and while there are certainly things that we can do to minimize or exacerbate risks, there is nothing that we can do to eliminate the risk that bad things will happen to us. Those people who promise us what we want to hear, that they can eliminate such risks from our lives, only make it more certain that we will experience misery because of their misgovernment if we listen to their siren song and give them the power that they seek. Such power cannot help but be abused because no one can give us the safety that we want in a world such as ours is, and those who are good enough not to want it are also honest enough to let us know that what we want is an illusion.

People tenaciously hold on to the illusion of safety. It is immensely stressful and unpleasant to recognize the lack of safety that we truly have in this world. When people act in ways that others see as threatening to their safety, the results are deeply unpleasant even if the idea that people will be safe if everyone does x is illusory and illogical. It can seem a bit harsh to such people to suggest that we live in a world where we accept risks all the time and cannot help but do so if we are to live. Every time we do anything, there is a risk that something will go wrong. That risk increases if other people actively wish our harm, if we or others around us are impaired in some fashion, or if we are in a hurry or behaving foolishly and recklessly, but even if we and others are doing everything we know how to do correctly, there is still risk that something somewhere will go wrong.

There is an aspect of the harm that we face from the world outside of ourselves that is not always recognized. Those things that are most dangerous to us are precisely those things that are the most broken. When we look at bacteria, for example, that cause the death of many millions of people, what we find is that the bacteria that are harmful are themselves less functional and are harmful in precisely the ways that they are broken. And those bacteria that we consider to be super-virulent are precisely those bacteria that are even more broken than normal and thus able to survive the harm that we wish to do them. To the extent that it would be possible to fix these broken bacteria, it is possible that they would not end up doing harm to us at all, and we might then be able to fix the ways that we have been broken in order to try to protect ourselves from such threats in ways that cause risk of diseases to us. The implications of this sort of thing are, of course, highly startling and contrary to the spirit of our times.

Let us note too that we are assuming in dealing with these risks that no one is doing anything themselves to make life more dangerous for others. We are assuming that people are honest and forthcoming about what they are trying to accomplish and about what the risk factors are in their behavior and candid about admitting when risks are greater than they initially believed when looking at things in the long term. We are assuming that others are acting with the best interests of themselves and others in mind, and are not deliberately telling falsehoods in order to gain power and authority. Even in a world where we act according to the best available information and the best options we are aware of, bad things happen. We do not live in a world where even this best case scenario can often be found, and as a result, safety is even more elusive than it would be if all was as well as it could be if we could trust ourselves and others. All too often, this trust is simply unwise and only puts us in more danger than we are already in.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to On The Illusion Of Safety

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    Too often such things are politicized and those behind such claims have their own agendas. It is wise to be aware of this and retain the power over our own minds and bodies.

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