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on Jun 17th 2001, 11:29:13, Arvedui wrote the following about

safe

Presently, in the Western World, a new religious movement is springing up. Some would go so far as to call it a Cult. It is gaining adherents in every region, at every social class, of every ethnicity (although really it tends to be strongest among urban middle-class white people). It is the Cult of Safety.

For some reason, more and more people in the West believe that Total and Complete Safety is a worthy and attainable goal. »Safety First!« goes the mantra of the movement, »Fun a Distant Second!« (FMI, see the Erika Ritter article of the same name).

Take the EZ-Bake Oven. This was a little plastic box with a 40 or 60 watt lightbulb inside that children could use to make little cookies and cupcakes and things. They were tremendously popular, until some rather dim kids decided that the lightbulb was cute and they wanted to pet it or something. They burned themselves, and the toy vanished, condemned for the mortal sin of being UNSAFE.

Or take the merry-go-round. This was one of the best parts of most playgrounds, until one year, almost overnight it seems, they all suddenly vanished. TOO DANGEROUS!!! Never mind that 99% of the kids that used them loved the things and never got hurt. One injured child is too many, and obviously ruining everyone else's fun will make him all better again, so away with the rides!

It wasn't always like this. In the old days, if a child burned their hand on the oven's lightbulb, a parent's likely response would be »Ha! Yeah, pretty HOT, isn't it??« and the child would learn a hard but valuable lesson about the wisdom of cuddling a burning light. Or if s/he fell off the merry-go-round and hit his/her head, there would be an icepack, some parental care, and an admonishment not to hang off the side with no hands while it's spinning. Nowadays, everytime someone gets hurt for doing something stupid, there's likely to be a lawsuit.
Really, the cult of safety, at least in North America, seems to relate back largely to the incredible and STILL-growing litigiousness of the populations. Everyone is willing to sue everyone else, cuz hey! If a veteran smoker can be awarded $3 BILLION(!!!!!), who knows what they might get??

This further links to the short-cut, instant-win, make-$12,000-a-month-from-your-home-without-doing-a-thing mentality of N.Americans, inspired perhaps by the Capitalism-on-Steroids culture of the USA, which was, if not caused, certainly polarized and sharpened by the Cold War which required them to go to the percieved opposite extremes of the ideological enemy, thereby destroying anything that even hinted of »Socialism« (i.e. anything that involved people working/caring for people outside their own immediate families).

In the meantime, a generation of children are growing up without knowing what danger is, and without knowing how to deal with it or avoid it. The Cult of Safety is one of the biggest threats we face today.


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