For a number of years now there has been what seems to me to be a disturbing trend in our society to go overboard on trying to make everyone and everything kinder, gentler, and safer.

It first started with imposing more and more precautions and restrictions in the name of safety.  Wherever you go, the list of things you can’t do is always longer than the list of things you can do.  For example, I have been on public beaches in Europe and people were safely having fun with no posted rules whereas to safely use any public beach in this country you apparently need a long list of things you dare not do.  Does being cautious in the extreme really make you that much safer or does it just suck the fun out of everything?

Part of the impetus for this is the fact that we are a litigious society bent on suing anytime someone is injured.   That’s why we have padded playgrounds and warning labels on everything from hot coffee to knives.  Do we really need to be warned that knives are sharp?

You understand that all of these ridiculous safety measures and warnings are all about covering your butt and trying to avoid wide eyed plaintiffs who hope to strike it rich after suffering from a dangerous hot beverage or who get hurt when they trip and fall because, surprisingly, the entire world is not flat, level, and soft.

What really bothers me is the fact that we are so willing to give up our freedom for the sake of safety, real or imagined.  Are we really going to want the government telling us what to eat, when to exercise, and how to live even if it were to make us safer and healthier?  I am not against being safe but I recognize that there are limits to how much personal freedom of choice I will give up just to be safe.   I am sure there are people who would give up all of their free will if only they could feel completely safe.   Guess what, life is always going to be fraught with risks and dangers.   The proof of that is we all die.

Next we decided that we should no longer promote anything to our children that could be considered a challenge or that includes an element of competition that might cause them to excel.  That is why we no longer have dodge ball and why, in some circles, it is considered bad form to keep score at youth soccer games and little league.   I coached both for many years and could never bring myself to universally praise everyone all the time regardless of how they played.   I felt that the good players should be rewarded for their efforts and skill while the not so good players sometimes needed to be told where they fell short and encouraged to become better.  That should be true in sports and in life.

Finally, we have come to the point where we all better be nice to each other since any discord could cause us all to have severe emotional problems.   I am not saying that it isn’t appropriate to be nice to people, what concerns me is that we are starting to buy into the notion that it is understandable when someone shoots up their workplace because their boss was mean to them or that every person who goes off the deep end was necessarily pushed there by the cruelty of others.  We can agree that bullying is wrong, but, let’s not make hurt feelings our next national crisis.  Unfortunately, conflict will always be part of life and we all need to be able to deal with that fact.

From now on, I am never going to say a harsh word, I will live in a bubble so that I can be safe from all risks, and I will never ever challenge anyone to be competitive and win.   Nahh, who am I kidding!