What is the purpose of life if there is no risk? I don’t mean to get philly on you here, but seriously there is a movement in the United States to eliminate every potential threat, risk and hangnail that one can find. Don’t believe me, just read article after article where people are being sued for a bad date, a bruised arm on the playground or eating too much fast food. There is a segment of the population that is seeking to remove all risk. A movement known as Safetyism as explained by the author of “The Coddling of The American Mind” and touched on by Jordan Peterson in the 12 Rules for Life.
I have spoken at length about the lighthouse theory which never stops making certain crimes more and more serious. This same principle can be applied to risk. The more we exaggerate minor risks and eliminate them the more we need to find new risks to go after. To make us feel good. To widen the gap between them and us. When we make playgrounds so safe that no risk exists, the playground becomes overly dull and lacks challenge required for proper human growth and development.
Not enough risk
Without risk our human bodies and brains do not develop resilience and anxiety becomes more of a threat. We see the ramifications of the lack of mild risk in everyday educational settings, from trigger warnings to safe spaces, to the banning speakers on campuses. The threat to physical safety has moved to emotional and intellectual safety. The question must be asked, has risk been mitigated too much?
Here we see that even our opinions are being run by machine learning, that we are too afraid to state facts and truth without first making sure that we have eliminated the risk of potentially not including everyone in our writings. As Jim Rhone said, have you ever read a book that every page said: “everything is fine”? If so, you would put that book down immediately.
How much risk is good
Without some level of risk, some hazard, some level of danger, we as a human race are barreling headfirst into a self-made prison of isolated bliss. Meaning that the only thing we will be doing in the future is sitting in a room staring at computer screens and taking pills designed to give us all the nutrients food should.
Risk is good. Learning how to drive is good. Hunting is good. Fishing is good. Learning how to make fire is good. Learning how to talk with other humans is good. Risk brings us food from the ocean, provides us with a sense of accomplishment and triumph, protects our human rights and makes us human. To be human means that we move, we go out; we walk, we jump, run, talk to each other, travel, work and lift weights. We take risks.
What to do next
While I don’t advocate blanket “no’s,” risk managers and safety experts must say no to wiping out all risks. We must get back to acceptable levels of risk in our analysis and ensure that we are not eliminating every and all risk.
Risk is good. Risk is necessary. What are we moving too? If we eliminate all risk, then we might as well not exist.