Humanity has been trained in our modern times. We have to watch out for the other guy so we won’t get a bad review on our business or product. We don’t want to hurt someone unintentionally, or (heaven forbid) we get sued and taken to court. We have made it easy to be blamed for things that may or may not be within our control. Conscientious folks do try to not harm people, and they do the best they can within the scope of their experience or expertise. Assuming the best intentions can be a good axiom to live by. Sure, there are times we will get burned on a deal, but looking for the bad in everything is a rough way to exist.
My husband works in manufacturing in industrial maintenance. For a short stint, he was the Safety Officer for his shift in his department. He was excited to be part of this rotation. He had experience actually working on the machines and knowing what it was like to fix this equipment. After 40+ years in this type of work, he saw how safety standards had changed. He hoped to inject some common sense into some of the regulations. There are occasions when the regular safety protocols are more of a danger than what you are trying to be protected from.
Factories live in fear of OSHA – Occupational Safety & Health Administration. They also dread work injuries. Gone are the days of children working in the mills. Modern-day machinery has safety guards around the moving parts, alarms when doors open and close, and preventative maintenance is done at semi-regular intervals. Even with all these precautions, accidents happen, and sometimes people get hurt or even die. There are times when it is due to operator error and not a failure of the machine.
I watched a video recently where Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame was talking about how too much safety fosters complacency in folks. He cites studies showing how people using seat belts drive faster and motorcycle riders wearing helmets corner more quickly. When was the last time you were at a cross-walk where the electronic signal is telling you when to walk? Did you look at the traffic before you crossed the road, or did you take the sign as your only cue? Are we relying on other people or mechanisms to keep us safe then blame those very protocols when things turn out bad? Could we augment those items by using our own discernment and accepting some responsibility for the outcomes, either good or bad?
Many in our country wish our government would do more in keeping us safe from the recent pandemic. Some even go so far as to want the government to keep things shut down indefinitely to save lives from this virus. Are these actions making us complacent? Are our immune systems taking a hit by not being exposed to things that can make it strong? Despite an abundance of precautions- safety regulations, health awareness campaigns, product warnings, etc…- people still get sick and die from numerous causes. Where can we accept self-responsibility for the choices we make?
My husband and I joke about needing to “eat a peck of dirt” just to get by in this ol’ world. Exposure to working and playing in the outdoors at an early age was an everyday occurrence for us. He and his father worked the family farm while I played in my grandparents’ barnyard a few times a week. We were told to wash our hands before we ate and take a bath each day, but there was no sanitizing or bleaching the entire house where we grew up. It seems some scientists agree with this way of living. An article in Mother Earth News- The Hygiene Hypothesis says, “Some exposure to “germs” will mature and strengthen your immune system.” Isn’t this the premise of how vaccines and homeopathy are supposed to work? Dosing with small amounts of what can make you sick in more substantial amounts can, over time, make you immune to the full-blown disease.
I’m not advocating ditching all safety precautions or dumping modern sanitation. I call for us to look at safety and reflect on what it means for each of us as individuals. Are we trying to compensate for places in our past, or even our present, where we don’t feel safe? Are we being overly cautious with our behavior in areas where we feel more in control? Are we advocating for more government control so that we can shift our responsibility? Are we giving our power away to others such as the experts, the law, or the authority figure du jour? Should we all just cover ourselves in sanitized bubble-wrap and give others our Power of Attorney?
Being responsible for our lives is scary and can make us feel abandoned if we are not used to it. All those folks on those Survivor programs are thrown into an abandonment-type situation for our entertainment. Can we attempt to live somewhat like those reality TV stars (minus the rat-eating) and learn to take care of ourselves in real life? Humans are more robust than they realize. To be conscious of our choices and responsible for the outcomes is to live in a free world. We are made for this type of freedom.
~Dr. Catherine Denton is a Metaphysician who lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She is the author of her memoir- Metaphysical Girl: How I Recovered My Mental Health. Her mission is to encourage folks during challenging times and help them realize they are stronger than they know.