There Is Such a Thing as Too Safe…

My less-than-a-year-old car has started yelling at me every time I turn it on. For multiple reasons. First, it started pinging about needing an oil change, when it does not, in fact, need one for about another 2000 miles (somehow, the last time we got an oil change, the alarm was reset incorrectly). Then, it began to complain of low windshield wiper fluid when there was still plenty left. Now, it won’t shut up about the tire pressure. And sure, that one is probably valid, but not as detrimental as the beeping is making it out to be. One after another, as soon as the key turns. The fluid was topped off this morning, solving at least one issue, but the others will take a little more time. And this got me thinking about how so much today is idiot-proofed, and how maybe that isn’t such a good thing.

It’s not that I’m cruel or particularly unsafe, but I feel like we as a culture are worried about the wrong things, as far as safety is concerned. We have laws and technology and extreme measures taken to protect us, mostly out of fear of litigation on the parts of corporations. However, I think that depending on these things to protect us, we begin to lose our ability to make clear, common sense judgments for ourselves and we lessen our opportunities for enjoying a full life. We willingly swathe ourselves in bubble wrap without realizing how much our view of reality is obscured by the plastic bubbles.

It’s a tricky path to travel, though, isn’t it? And the argument for some of the laws and implementation of technological innovations (many clearly before they are ready for implementation), the “if it saves even one life, isn’t it worth the inconvenience/cost”, is a tough one to argue against.

Musings on the Boston Marathon Bombing

I found out about the Boston marathon bombing after spending a lovely day celebrating my son’s second birthday.  And I’ve mostly been thinking about the dichotomy of my personal life and the national view, or the micro versus the macro if we want to get into scientific terms.  I worry about having brought a child into this world that seems to be on a collision course, but I also hope that my son is part of a generation that carries within it the potential for change.  That my generation is breaking the ground and planting and nurturing the seeds well enough for his generation to grow into their full potential.

The worrisome thing, for me, is that these violent acts have become normalized, a regular part of my life.  I have seen America’s “shattered innocence” too many times.  I still feel sad for the victims, and I feel anger towards the perpetrator, but I am not surprised by the bombings.  This kind of blase attitude towards violence is unacceptable to me, but I don’t know what I can do about.  And really, how much worse is it for those that have lived in war-torn lands for decades?  Where you never know if a bomb or sniper’s bullet will find you?  I think of places like that, many of them torn apart by the United States’ interest in the area, and I can’t help but see why there are many people who hate Americans.  We are so safe, so trusting, so innocent in so many ways, and so unconcerned by how our actions as a nation are tearing the world apart.  But we are also a powder keg, and the violence is going to get worse before it gets better.

You wait, there will be a cry for action.  More civil liberties will be chipped away, all in the name of safety.  Will they install cameras on the streets of all the major cities now?  Require security checkpoints for any large public gathering, including bag searches?  The calm voices of reason and research  will be drowned by the hysterical voices of both sides, screaming for more safety or for more freedom.  It will be the mess of post-9/11 all over again.  I’ve already seen people politicizing this, to the point of actually reading that someone hopes it’s a terrorist attack so people can see how bad a president Obama is.  Just disgusting.  No matter what your opinion of the man or the office is, to gleefully wish that such a tragedy acknowledges your narrow worldview is repulsive.

The last thought I have on the matter is that while I am not a proponent for using violent means to cause change or express your opinion, if you are someone heading in that direction, choose your targets with care.  If you must be an agent for chaos and destruction, do so in a way that actually causes some good.  Maybe consider cyber terrorism instead of physical terrorism that takes life and limb.  Watch “Fight Club” a few times.  Join Anonymous.  Target those in power instead of innocents.  Don’t take the cowardly way out.

I know this is rambling and out there.  I’m just feeling sore, raw, and open, like a flaky scab oozing a little bit.  You have to learn not to mind me too much when I’m feeling this maudlin.