Why Have Some Freedom in Safety When a Dose of Fear and Guilt Will Do?
I was sent a rather sickening poster this today, another one of those pithy senseless aphorisms that now populate Linkedin. The poster read: ‘The person who choses safety is a person of conviction, character and caring’. This seems harmless enough, what is so sickening?
One of the fundamentals of communication is understanding what is not said? It is often the binary opposite that tells you much about the binary affirmation. The problem with this poster, positioned beautifully at the base of a picture of a bridge gives the impression that safety is something we have complete control over. Safety is simple, just chose it or not. The trouble is, such a message is naïve and based on a simplistic understanding of human judgment and decision making.
So what happens when someone is hurt? Did they not chose safety? Does that then make them lacking in conviction, character and caring? How superior it must make someone feel when they sit beside the bed of an injured person and tell them they chose not to be safe! So, what happens when a relationship breaks apart? Why didn’t you chose to be together? What happens when your child goes astray? Do you have no control over your children? What happens when you can’t break an addiction? Do you have no will power? How simple life is for the binary simplistic message that attributes complete control to all that happens in life. No randomness, no luck, no circumstance, no misfortune and no chance? What kind of life is this? It must be great to be omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient rather than fallible. What nonsense, there are hundreds of factors that affect decision making that are beyond rational control, it is absurd to suggest that safety is a choice and simply creates the delusion of perfection. More binary nonsense immersed in guilt to help make snake oil profit for guilt merchants.
Wouldn’t it be great to be visited in hospital by a zero zealot telling you, you deserve a mishap? It was your choice? How would you feel when someone tells you that a random event was your fault? You chose to be unsafe? Just imagine how superior one can be when they scoff at your injury because you chose to be injured. What deterministic nonsense. It seems the safety sector laps up this stuff because somehow fear and guilt are liberating?
I was with the Post Graduate students the other day at the Wayside Chapel Kings Cross, I would love to see the person who generated this poster tell each person outside Wayside, they chose to be destitute. I would love to see them speak to a homeless person and tell them, they chose to live on the streets in unsafety and poverty. I would like to see them tell a gambling, sex, eating disorder or substance addict that they deserved their life because they chose misery.
Life itself has a curious way of teaching us the nonsense of absolutes and superiority over others. The disposition of superiority over others because of the delusion of choice should have no place in safety discourse. The reality of suffering (https://safetyrisk.net/suffering-sometimes-there-is-no-reason/) should teach us not the nonsense of ‘safety is a choice’ but rather ‘there but by the grace of god, go I’.