A Makeover For Your Health

When Safety Becomes Dangerous

When Safety Becomes Dangerous

By on Jul 13, 2013 in Existence, Facing Challenges, Healthovers Blog, Independence |

Safety is a natural instinct for all living creatures.  Mice tend to come out at night to search for food while many of their predators are sleeping.  Coyotes hunt in packs to take down large prey like elk and reduce their chances of being trampled to death.  A moth may have markings on its wings to make it look like a leaf.  And so on.  Safety is crucial for survival, and survival is a core goal for all life forms.

Humans crave safety as well, but can what was originally an instinct for survival actually end up serving the opposite purpose?  Can our drive for increased security actually put us in increased danger, and make life more difficult rather than easier?

The arguments on a larger, more societal scale are easier to examine, but also inevitably tend towards circular arguments such as, “if so-and-so is posing an increased threat to our national security, should we not bolster our defenses?”  This is hard to argue against, though clearly the current overall picture of the world’s health and safety does not leave us feeling so secure at all, with increasingly larger and more complex “defense” systems being developed at a rapid pace.

But since the majority of us have little to no say in the overall state of affairs of our governments, instead let’s examine the concept of safety on an individual level, where power for change does exist.

On a daily basis, you take certain precautions to reduce risk.  You wear your seatbelt (hopefully), you stop at red lights, you avoid eye contact with the scary looking tattooed guy talking to the voices in his head.  Common sense stuff, and common sense is a good thing.

But are there safety measures in your life which not only prevent you from living to your fullest capacity, but actually put you in danger?  For humans, the illusion of safety often comes in the form of not standing out, of striving to belong, of not rejecting the status quo.  Children learn from a young age not to speak their minds, journalists find that the stories that need to be told are off limits, teachers are ordered to stay within the curriculum and not venture out on their own.  This is the world we live in.  Fear is bred into our minds from a very early age.

Though to outwardly rebel against the norm may not be a solution – in order to keep your job or avoid a spanking – it is important not to get lost in identifying one’s self too fully with the identity of safety.  There may be a sense of peace in living a life without conflict, but is this peace real?  Is the lack of outward conflict in a person often only masking a deeper and more violent internal conflict?  Do you take too much pride in your ability to be at peace or be successful or be a good person or whatever it may be, to recognize a fundamental rejection of who you are?  Is the safety in your life posing a real threat to you – not one of bodily harm, but one to your sense of self and your integrity?

Without individuality, without uniqueness, a person cannot really be living. In that sense, maybe a redefining of the word danger can be helpful.  Question whether there may be times where the risk of rejection or conflict is worth maintaining the integrity of your life and individuality.  What is really dangerous, the pain of rejection by others or by an ideal, or the personal rejection of who you are, and the life inside of you?  Life is a very hardy thing, but under constant suppression even it can wither.

As a human, this life is not an easy thing.  It is tempting to put one’s energy into making it safer and easier by reducing conflict and staying hidden amid the norm.  But there is a hefty price to pay for living this way.  It is dangerous to the life and health inside of you.

Keep in mind, you don’t need to lead a rebellion or shout from the rooftops to live as an individual.  It’s not your job to change the world – your life is irrelevant to what others are doing or what society is telling you to do.  It can be done quietly if you like, or not, if that’s more your style.  It won’t be easy, not in this world, but by shrugging off the tempting illusion of safety, you will be doing what you can to protect the integrity in your own life, and by extension contributing to the true safety of life as a whole.  Stand tall and have courage.  Be seen for who you are.  Be safe.


The post author, Jason Petersen, is a naturopathic doctor in San Francisco.