On the news this morning there were complaints about people trying to to surf on the River Severn during the dramatic swell caused by a combination of high tides and stormy weather. This was understandable in the context of the extreme weather conditions and flooding parts of the UK have been experiencing recently. People have lost their homes and people have died. And yet I could understand the appeal of the challenge to seasoned surfers…
Meanwhile Michael Schumacher is beginning what will probably be a long and difficult recovery from severe head injury and brain damage following a skiing accident. Now skiing can be dangerous but surely not as dangerous as F1 motor racing so the cause of Schumacher’s injury is somewhat ironic…
The fact is, life is dangerous. But should we seek to protect ourselves from everything? Personally, I don’t think we can and I don’t think we should.
When I was younger I went on several school trips. They were great fun and I learned a lot from all of them. These days in the UK there are hardly any school trips because the insurance costs are so high and health and safety regulations so stringent that no teacher can risk anything going wrong. As a result I think modern kids are missing out on valuable life and learning experiences.
As a kid I used to play alone or with friends at the beach or at the park. I used to ride my bike as far as nearby towns. These days most parents probably wouldn’t dream of letting their kids out of sight for fear of them having an accident or getting molested. Perhaps things were a bit safer when I was younger but probably not really. I did have a few slips and falls. I had a few minor accidents; but I didn’t get raped or murdered. Nothing terrible happened. Would my life have been safer if my parents had been more risk averse? Maybe, but it wouldn’t have been half as much fun!
I think there is a danger that we are trying to make our lives too safe. Physically and chemically our bodies are designed to handle a few risks and to deal with potential dangers. Moreover by successfully negotiating various potential dangers we become better able to deal with life in general.
Life IS dangerous and eventually we will all die. But that is the deal. We deserve the opportunity to have a bit of adventure between life and death. If nobody took risks we wouldn’t have learned how to cook with fire, let alone gone to the moon!
I do a lot of traveling, and yes, air travel makes me nervous but I do it anyway; if I didn’t my life would be so much less. Other than that I don’t take too many obvious risks… I ski badly sometimes… I have occasionally been known to drive a bit too fast… I like to swim and intend to go deep sea diving sometime… I have climbed some hills and a few trees and still like doing that… I might go hang gliding or do a bungee jump one day… But probably the biggest risks I take are the everyday ones like crossing the street or walking home late at night. I don’t think my life would be any the richer for sitting home tucked up in bed all day though.
I smoke cigarettes. I guess that increases my risk of some diseases but you know non smokers also die of so called smoking related diseases and the way I look at it non smokers are just as likely to be knocked down and killed by a bus as I am.
Tragic things happen. Good people suffer and die young pointlessly. Wars kill millions of women and children, so does famine and poverty… Perhaps we should spend more time addressing those problems that trying to insulate ourselves from life itself.
Life is dangerous, but if we are allowed to live it fully it can also be exciting, beautiful and meaningful.
And that was my 300th post on this blog… Go me! 🙂