In these complex times, I stay confused!
Some days, I think I truly I live in the land of the ‘brave’ and all my friends and neighbors habitually laugh in the face of danger. On other days, I am convinced we are a society that has largely become unwilling to accept personal responsibility for anything which might cause them even a smidgen of pain or discomfort. [FYI - my latter viewpoint might be validated by the number of seemingly frivolous civil suits filed with the courts.]
It seems I first became befuddled after listening to a recent radio replay of the philosophical rock lyrics, Sign, Sign…Everywhere a Sign! After looking around, I began to observe that the majority of the signs of our times shout out “warning”, “caution” and/or “danger”. Occasionally, the eye-catching word “attention” appears, politely advising the reader to Do This, or Don’t Do That!
At first, I considered these to be prudent heads-ups, designed to reveal threats to my well-being. Most being perils of which I, obviously, was not fully aware. When traveling down an unfamiliar road, a bright yellow placard depicting a perilous curve ahead, or the prospect of deer darting out, are very welcomed pieces of information.
However, I later realized that I was already abundantly aware of a countless number of these well-advertised threats to my physical, emotional or financial health. So, the question soon emerged, “Why is our government and compliant businesses spending millions to perpetually inform me, and every other soul in the country, of things which could possibly hurt us or those around us…if we have had it drilled into our heads since birth?
So, what gives rise to the endless array of signs, labels and verbal announcements of how we are, or not, expected to act or react? Have our devious electronic devices wiped out our ability to reason and, thereby, remember not to harm ourselves.
Haven’t we recognized for many, many decades that tobacco products are addictive and harmful to our health? Likewise, if someone is old enough to get pregnant, shouldn’t they be astutely aware that drinking alcohol could seriously damage their unborn child? As I entered highly-policed school zones around high schools and junior highs, I even began asking why aren’t we capable of producing teenagers that are smart enough not to play chicken in our busy streets?
Oh! Did I mention that a shiny decal on a brand new kayak recently caught my eye and poked holes in my brain. Paraphrasing the legal language it contained, it basically told the buyer that operating this boat could result in ‘drowning’. Using this distorted logic, I guess we will soon see labels on food packages and restaurant menus reminding us that eating can contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cooties, etc. Or, how about one placed on rifle stocks or pistol grips that firearms can kill?
But, on the other hand, have you listened carefully to the cheery TV commercials, or thoroughly read the tiny-print notices accompanying prescription drugs? If you have fully tuned in to these, practically all carry lengthy and frightening sub-messages. You will be shocked to learn that any human being taking any one of these ‘healing’ substances can potentially be seriously maimed for life or possibly sent to an early grave by these products. And, the unstated theme is that your finances are likely to suffer in a deeply disturbing manner. So, it is evident that America’s prescription drug users (which is most of us) are fearless, adrenaline-fueled daredevils of the highest order!
Yet, the deeper I pondered whether or not we truly need so many well-meaning ‘warnings’, the more I came to accept the truth that may be signs, graphics and verbal proclamations pointing out hideous and hidden dangers…which are absolutely needed. But, to date, these have been cavalierly ignored.
Take for instance, children. Perhaps, diaper manufacturers should assertively warn new parents of the extra-ordinary expense and unforeseeable angst which will probably accompany the rearing of their offspring? But, this labeling is not likely to appear. Nobody is bold enough to poo-poo on mom and dad’s hopes and dreams of divinely pain-free parenting.
Elected officials, overseeing beaches and shores, zealously post signs in areas of imposing danger to swimmers. Commonly they tell visitors, “Swimming here is prohibited!” However, apathetic water lovers seem to pay little heed to these lifesaving messages. Maybe a bluntly-worded sign that just says “(X number) of really dumb people have drowned here” would be far more effective? When there are new victims, simply paint over the old number and then update it by posting the consistently-increasing death toll. If after this is done, some foolishly ignore the dangers anyway, then it just goes to show us that Charles Darwin’s Survival of the (e.g., intellectually) Fittest hypothesis was DEAD right!
If you wish to make America a safer place to live and work, then I challenge you to suggest, to those with responsibility and/or authority, warnings which you feel are urgently needed!