Why we should ignore safety, smoke cigarettes, and not wear seatbelts


If you are buying a box of Whiskey, you have embraced your alcoholism
A few years ago, I remember sitting in a giant hotel hall for a business conference. Over 200 of my colleagues sat and listened to an economist speak. He gave a five year forecast for the global economy and then opened it up for questions. Hands went up and a guy asked a question about increasing government involvement in the economy via the health care law and used the word 'socialism' in a negative way. The economist responded and explained in a condescending way that socialism and capitalism were simply tools. Either can be used to achieve the goal of bringing happiness and health to the population. I held my tongue at the time but now regret doing so. The quiet nodding of the crowd was exactly what his response did not deserve.

Never mind that socialism in all its forms almost never works. That is not why the statement bothered me so much. The statement bothered me because it assumed something about life that much of our society assumes. It assumed that the goal of life is financial and physical health. 

I disagree. I say that a people obsessed with keeping themselves happy and financially secure is a boring and weak society. I say that we need a society that is not so risk averse.  

Smoke cigarettes. Ride without a helmet. Put your kids on teeter totters. Ride without a seatbelt. Drink more than 2 drinks a day. Skip the doctor’s appointment. I say some of this facetiously. I am not encouraging a disregard for life. But I do think that our obsession with trying to pad every toy and take every bit of dietary or health advise in the hopes of protecting ourselves against all the potential risks in life has gone way way too far. It is okay to die. 

I was in a grocery store recently and saw a box of whiskey. Not wine. Whiskey.  If you buy a box of whiskey, you have embraced your alcoholism. Not even pretending anymore. I am not saying that we should all go out and buy boxes of whiskey. I am just noting that boxes of whiskey are a thing for some people and those people might have a certain sense of personal freedom that makes their life better than yours. 
A safe life is a boring life. God did not put us on this planet to carefully preserve us under a jar. Life is given to be spent not to be protected. 

Of course there are productive ways to spend our life. Dying in war or as a missionary in a hostile land are honorable and wonderful ways to go. But I don't think dying because you decided to ride a bull in an amateur rodeo is any less honorable than dying at age 89 in with tubes in your nose at a nursing home. And in some ways, drinking deeply from life with joy and celebration with friends is better than carefully measuring out your food with a mini-scale as you travel from the doctor to the yoga studio. There is nothing inherently honorable about a longer life.

Why is this important? Back to the economist. Governments decide things with a goal in mind. And when government officials start thinking that happiness and long life are the goals - rather than something like freedom - you get terrible decision making. 

Instead of attempting to nudge the population toward eating healthier or exercising more, the government should be backing away and letting people be more free. Health and safety should not be their goal. Freedom should be their goal.

And the two goals are in conflict. Because...  

Freedom is a dangerous thing. It is sure to lead to violence. It is sure to lead to shorter lives. It sure to lead to painful words. Freedom leads to random shootings. Freedom leads to drug use. Freedom leads to all sorts of bad things. 

But despite all these risks with freedom, I still believer in freedom. The next time a terrorist attack happens and someone says, “Let’s limit such and such freedom so that this never happens again,” you must say, “no, I would actually prefer this happens again to a loss of freedom.” Are you ready for this? If not, you are not for freedom. If every time something bad happens, you say, “Let’s limit our freedom!” you are an enemy of freedom and a friend of safety and a safe long life. Freedom requires letting bad things happen and doing nothing. 
Are you ready for this sort of freedom?

Don't raise your kids in a bubble. The teeter totter is gone. Too dangerous. I think the big question today is when are they going to get rid of those swings. Those mother effers are scary! In the middle ages, kids used to die regularly by being trampled by horses, stabbed by farm equipment, and falling off crap. Now no one dies because they are kept safe inside. Inside their house watching colors on a TV screen. Fat and sedentary. So that they can grow and be fat and sedentary adults - oh.. good.

No. Go get that box of whiskey. Or, even better, go be a missionary in Pakistan. But do something so you don't waste your life preserving your life.

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