When Safety becomes Dangerous
Safetyism is an increasingly perilous threat to our fundamental liberties
We’ve lost our ever-loving minds! People have come to believe that safety is all that matters. Even people who would otherwise consider themselves to be critical thinkers have lost all perspective when it comes to being safe.
The term "safetyism" refers to a cultural trend that places an emphasis on physical and emotional safety above all else. It’s a cultural trend in the west which is pervasive in both the United States and throughout Europe, with many people advocating for policies and practices that prioritize safety and risk avoidance over other considerations.
It’s especially visible as a parent where intuition and common sense as to how far to go to protect your children has shifted 180 degrees since my childhood. I grew up as a latchkey kid in Queens, NYC starting in first grade. This type of parenting is unthinkable, if not illegal, by today’s standards but back then I was in the majority of my class with a key tied around my neck.
We’ve come so far and I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because there’s so much information available to us today via the internet that we overestimate the dangers. Or maybe it’s the cyclical nature of things as theorized in the Fourth Turning…but that’s a deep dive left for another day.
While the desire for safety and security is understandable, the trend towards safetyism has the potential to be dangerous. It leads to a loss of perspective and an overemphasis on risks that are statistically unlikely or not very significant.
I’m not much of an expert on social science so I won’t go much further into analyzing why this is happening and to what extent this is responsible for the change in attitudes of our youth as outlined in The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. What I will comment on is what this mentality is doing to our society and why it should concern you.
The obvious example to look at is Covid-19. During the pandemic, governments around the world implemented strict lock downs, mandates and other measures in the name of public health and safety without much regard for anything else. There was little consideration for things like:
Scientific Evidence - in fact pre-pandemic science was clear that this should not be the way to manage a pandemic
Societal Cost-Benefit Analysis - public health officials somehow forgot that their job was to do what is best for society as whole, not try to save every single life at any cost…things like life years lost were not accepted as metrics for decision making thereby conflating the value of the life of a child with that of a terminally ill 90 year old
Unintended Consequences - I’m always flabbergasted when I think that public health officials decided to run a giant lock down experiment on hundreds of millions of people (billions if you count the non-western world) without even considering that, beyond predictable tradeoffs that they ignored, they don’t know what they don’t know…this was never even considered
I predicted in August of 2020 that lock down deaths would outnumber Covid deaths and though we’ll never really know for sure, it was predictable that there would be serious health consequences.
While these measures were intended to protect people from the virus, they also had significant economic, social, health and psychological costs which we will be figuring out for decades to come. Fauci and his ilk will be long gone when the bill comes due.
But the danger of safetyism extends beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. If we continue to prioritize safety and risk avoidance above all else, this will have serious implications for democracy and individual autonomy.
Think about it: Faced with a virus that has an Infection Mortality Rate (IFR) of 0.2%, which skews overwhelmingly to the very old and sick, our fellow citizens considered it reasonable to surrender all their rights and freedoms for illogical policies which didn’t even address the fundamental of the problem.
Moreover, many were happy to become informers and enforcers for the new authoritarian norm!
As the Milgram Experiment showed, we are far too malleable and adaptable for our own good. Now, add safetyism on top of that and you have a dangerous combination: Scared, Compliant and Malleable.
Safetyism breeds authoritative tyranny through the expansion of the government's role in regulating behavior. When safety is seen as the highest priority, it becomes easy for politicians and bureaucrats to justify new laws and regulations that restrict individual liberties.
Take a second to watch this video as it is both hilarious and representative of how legitimate safety concerns, taken to their extremes, become nonsense:
Even speech has become an issue of safety…words and ideas can now be considered violence.
If safety is seen as the highest priority, any dissenting opinion or action that is perceived to put safety at risk can be seen as a threat. This leads to a culture of fear and intolerance, where those who question the safety orthodoxy are ostracized or even punished.
We’re living this reality today, where any speech or expression that is perceived as putting safety at risk is censored or punished. From the suppression of controversial ideas in academic settings to the policing of social media for content that is deemed unsafe or offensive, when safety is seen as the highest priority, it becomes easy to justify censorship and the suppression of free speech as necessary for the greater good.
Yet we know what happens if you limit free speech and stifle important conversations and debates.
Remember: The price of free speech is bad speech
Or in Elon Musk’s case: $44 Billion and the denigration of his good name and reputation 😂
The most insidious way that safetyism can lead to authoritative tyranny is through the creation of a surveillance state: a situation where people are constantly monitored and tracked, with their every move scrutinized for signs of unsafe behavior. This creates a chilling effect on individual freedom and leads to a society where people are afraid to speak out or express themselves for fear of being monitored and punished. China is already there.
Sort of makes you question why some people are calling for the defunding of police…although never assume malice when stupidity is far more likely!
While safety is undoubtedly an important value in society, an excessive focus on safety leads to the erosion of individual liberty and the rise of authoritative tyranny.
When safety is seen as the highest priority, it becomes easy for politicians and bureaucrats to justify new laws and regulations that restrict individual liberties, suppress dissenting views, and create a culture of fear and intolerance.
To prevent the rise of authoritative tyranny, we must insist on the need for absolute respect of individual freedom and diverse viewpoints.
And most importantly, be suspicious of anybody trying to scare you. In the case of real emergencies, panic is not how authorities deal with the crisis:
And finally, we get to the mother of all safetyist issues: Climate Change
There is no subject where more has been done to instill fear, stifle scientific debate and censor in order to accumulate vast amounts of power.
I took a big interest in his back in 2021 and took my time to do independent research on the top. I went in with no preconceived notions and tried my best to understand where the science was at:
Needless to say, it’s far more a political issue than it is about the saving the planet. But again, they use fear to sell it to the masses in order to accumulate power so that they can “save humanity”. It’s not even a secret…the WEF is quite open about it in their “Great Reset” initiative.
What’s left for us to do? We mustn’t allow ourselves to be afraid. Safety is nothing more than a tradeoff…safety is an illusion meant to control us. Reject safetyism and realize that courage is the only way forward.
“Nice motivational quote, Gummi” you might be thinking, but that’s not much help when people are genuinely afraid of something.
Fair enough. In truth critical thinking is influenced by many factors including one’s emotions. It depends on how we rationalize and then prioritize things like facts, assumptions and feelings. And this leads to a mistake made by many critical thinkers: because it is logical we then think that the conclusion must also be true.
The solution is: Look to your Values because they are what save you when all your humanly instincts tell you otherwise…that the ends justify the means for example. Ask yourself if the actions that you think appropriate conflict with what you know to be your core values.
Values exist to protect us against our worst instincts…even when those instincts are telling us that safety is all that matters.
Playgrounds were invented to give children a place to play that would at the same time present some real danger. Children would be injured and learn to live with pain and adversity, although inflicted in an environment in which the actual danger was limited. But I had no idea they looked like that! LOL
Courage is fear management. No truly fearless person has courage, just a dulled sense of self-preservation.
I sincerely believe that one of the reasons why governments around the world have dug their heels in about the COVID narrative is because the same tactics and techniques they used to promote it have been/are being used to promote the climate change narrative. They're deathly afraid that if the former collapses, people will recognized the parallels and the latter will collapse as well.
Gummi, I think your thesis could be broadened such that the root cause of safetyism and other societal afflictions is an immature lack of ability to weigh the costs of other variables and to just hyperfocus on just the benefits of one issue. For example, an over-focus on climate change leads to "climatism" or "Earthism" which never weighs the impact of resulting poverty, higher energy costs, food scarcity, etc. Over-focus on environment leads to "environmentalism" that doesn't weigh the costs of less farmland, higher food costs, less energy availability, water scarcity, etc. "Immigrationism" is the sole focus on the dignity of the illegal immigrant without weighing the damage that unchecked immigration does to crime, real estate scacity and values, overburdened schools, jobs scarcity and wages, etc. An over-focus on the deaths of police encounters leads to "Police Defundism" that immaturelyl doesn't consider the costs of less safety for all, and unintended consequences of more crime and deaths. People want solutions to be simple and therefore ignore the costs.