I’m feeling cranky today about risk. Probably because another Prius pulled in front of me and drove 15 miles an hour down the expressway. Honestly, hybrids have taken years off my life as I helplessly follow behind. Nothing against hybrids, but for crying out loud…
Anyway, the Prius made me cranky and triggered this rant about our fixation on safety. Does anybody else feel like we’re going way too far on all the safety factors we’re adding to our lives?
I recently gave a short talk and shared a funny junkyard story (too unsafe for this blog…and yes, I see the irony). Suffice to say the story was about not being a wimp and tackling challenges. Everybody laughed, everybody enjoyed it.
But later, during the Q&A session, one guy asked me how to “safely” break the wealth bubble around his kids.
He didn’t even see the contradiction in his own question, so I shot back at him, “Safety is overrated. We’re fixated on it. We’ve become a bunch of wimpy helicopter parents afraid to let our kids experience any risk. They grew up in car seats, wore bicycle helmets, kept away from swings, and were continually watched by baby monitors. And then as young adults they CRAVE authenticity. They love adventure trips, ropes courses, and sriacha (you gotta be nuts to eat that). They passionately desire to feel alive because they’ve lived lives of bubble wrapped sterility.
“You’re afraid to take your kid to a developing nation because of … well, what, exactly? That those people different than you might scare them? They might be bit by a bug or get a nasty sunburn? You ask how to break your kids safe little bubble while at the same time keep them in their sanitized world; bad news, you can’t do both. For gawdsakes, show your kids what it means to have some adventure.”
Stunned silence ensued.
You know what we need? A school that adjusts our perspective of risk. A school of uncertainty and peril.
It will teach us to bring risk back into our lives. Maybe it starts with something simple, like walking on the grass even when the sign says you can’t. Or how to cross a street without fifteen safety lights flashing. Then maybe it lets us breath the toxic fumes of a wood fire and eat carcinogenic marshmallows. And maybe, if we’re really daring, it will teach us to play with matches!
More seriously, it will teach us how, when, where, and why to build relations with people who are different from us. Because really, that’s the ultimate life of risk. Hopefully, when we graduate from this school of risk, it will have taught us to live by faith, not fear.
Stop worshipping your kids. Start worshipping God, and heed his commands to love your neighbors. Then you’ll see amazing things happen.