Sunday, July 05, 2009

How Unsafe Are We?

What is safe? I mean what is safe, as in the meaning of the word "safe." People watch, read, and listen to the news and feel unsafe. That is understandable. It doesn't take much for what passes as news to make one say, "What's this world coming to?"

But when have people been if not safe then safer? A very brief glance at any history of any people informs you that assault, tyranny, robbery, rape, murder, and terrorism are not new. Furthermore, in the past people were more vulnerable to diseases (e.g. smallpox, polio, bubonic plague--diseases that truly killed lots of people, as opposed to the presently dreaded swine and avian flu).

Just because somebody shot and killed former NFL quarterback Steve McNair doesn't mean that you and I are more vulnerable to violence. We're just more aware of it because of the media. We have such rapid and massive access to news that everything seems as if it's happening at once and everywhere. It just so happens that we feel like we know celebrities, so when something awful happens to them it feels closer than if it had happened to the neighbor of an acquaintance. McNair certainly isn't the first celebrity to die at the hands of an assassin--see Christopher Marlow, John Lennon, Sam Cooke, 2Pac, Sal Mineo, etc (by the way, the links take you to TruTV's Crime Library. Make sure you've got some free time, for it's a fascinating site).

Al Qaeda struck against Americans on American soil eight years ago, but are we less safe today than when the Soviets had nuclear missiles aimed at our major cities?

I would submit that human beings are never safe. We're not safe around strangers--who knows their intent. We're not safe alone--what if we need help? We're not safe in the wild--bears! We're not safe from death when we're just sitting around with our buddies--heart attack.

I would also submit that, given the advances in medicine, we are probably safer if not at least every bit as safe, as we were fifty years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Much of the world today has Ponce de Leon Syndrome: they cling to the unrealistic dream of living forever. I don't know why people would want to live in this wretched world any longer than they have to, especially if they look forward to an eternity in Heaven. Now, I would prefer a quick death over a long, drawn-out one, given a choice, but I can't deny the reality that life is short and limited. Thanks to modern medicine and science, there are more people around and more of them have the ability to harm you. Is that any better than dying of disease or being killed by a bear? At least a bear won't impose taxes on you before it gnaws on your skull. Put not your trust in things of this world! When you feel safest, your soul is at the most risk.


Bill of Rights