The Tyranny of Safety

YOUNG, OLD. NO ONE ESCAPES THE TYRANNY OF SAFETY. Image: Greg Hollobaugh

YOUNG, OLD. NO ONE ESCAPES THE TYRANNY OF SAFETY. Image: Greg Hollobaugh

By Anthony B. Robinson
Crosscut.com — February 3, 2015

In the era of school shootings and terrorism it is understandable that safety has become a priority. But has it also become an obsession?

Are we so focused on “safety” that we overlook the downsides, or at least the other side, of this priority? In her provocative book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit notes, “A recent article about the return of wildlife to suburbia described the snow-covered yards in which the footprints of animals are abundant and those of children entirely absent.

But it is not only the young that lose out when safety becomes an unquestioned norm. It is also the old.

“As far as the animals are concerned,” Solnit continues, “the suburbs are an abandoned landscape, and so they roam with confidence. Children seldom roam, even in the safest places. Because of their parents’ fear of the monstrous things that might happen (and do happen, but rarely), the wonderful things that happen as a matter of course are stripped away from them . . . I wonder what will come of placing this generation under house arrest.”

Others have also commented on the constrictions of so-called helicopter parenting and the over-scheduled child. A concern for safety is at least part of what has eroded the opportunities for children to roam the neighborhood and have the unstructured time to do so.

But it is not only the young that lose out when safety becomes an unquestioned norm. It is also the old.

In the new book of physician-author Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, Gawande describes what has happened as safety becomes the be-all and end-all as people age and encounter the trials of sickness and mortality. Safety, concludes Gawande, is not the same thing as meaning.

Continue reading here.

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One thought on “The Tyranny of Safety

  1. Thank you.

    What a great article and the opportunity to look back at the way myself and my children were brought up, and now what restrictions are put on their children.

    What a shame.

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