Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Are we safe yet?

Was on Facebook the other day looking for information on a childhood acquaintance who apparently passed away.  A family from our neighborhood and church who I spent time with, but whose kids were just enough older than me that we weren't really in the same social groups.  Instead found this from my cousin Paul who passed away a couple years ago of cancer.  Knowing he was going, he spent the last several months of his life writing.  This is a topic that I find extremely important.  Dennis Prager has had thoughts on the matter also, stating that if the question is "When it is safe" then the answer is "Never".  

I thought this one was worthy of being re-posted here.  I hope you enjoy this and that it gives you something to think about.

FB52 – Are We Safe Yet?
Dr. Paul Brand grew up the son of missionaries in the “Kolli Malai” (mountains of death) in southern India where he spent his boyhood climbing trees and roving the wilds of Southern India. He met his wife, Margaret, at medical school in London during World War II where after a long day dealing with casualties, they might be assigned to spend the night on the hospital roof to give warnings for incoming bombs. Ultimately the Brands returned to India where they raised six children and became the world’s leading experts on leprosy. They fully expected to die of the disease, but felt the risk was worth it if they could help. After their retirement, the Brands became members of our church in Seattle, where Paul once confided to me that he would rather his children embrace the risks of life and not survive, than survive while avoiding the risks.
I am reminded of this surprising observation in our present obsession with safety at any cost. Let me go on record to say I do not believe in safety at any cost; in fact, I believe it may be detrimental to virtually everything I know and cherish about life. Indeed, the truth is: Life is risk. And the corollary is the realization that avoiding risk is avoiding life. When I reflect on my life, I cannot think of one single example of finding delight in avoiding risk. I am not advocating living carelessly or recklessly. I always wear a seatbelt, and I’ve limited social contacts during this Corona virus plague. But I cannot avoid risk and I don’t want to. Virtually everything that has brought me joy and delight, everything which has deepened and built my character, everything which has enriched my life has involved risk.
I’ve spent whole summers in the Middle East (Israel, Jordan, Egypt) when rocket attacks and suicide bombers were always a possibility. Climbing Mt. Rainier, hiking the challenging Washington wilderness coast, finding myself alone on a rickety dock in Africa surrounded by hippos when the warning sign had only mentioned crocodiles, driving 2000 miles across the United States through a series of winter blizzards; shoot, learning to ski or rappel down a vertical cliff face, or ride a motorcycle. Everything that I have truly loved and savored in my life has involved risk. Marriage is a risk, having children is a risk, really growing up is a risk – building tree houses, building our own raft to take out on a nearby pond, taking my Dad’s rifle, at age 12, after a “Hunter Safety course” to go rabbit hunting. My folks, bless their hearts, understood that intuitively. “Can I take my bicycle (or my horse) and spend the day in the Badlands?” “Sure honey, just be back in time for supper. Watch for rattlesnakes.”
By contrast, my grandchildren are growing up in a world where you are not allowed to run on the playground or play on a high bar, or even (this is serious!) not touch nature! I’m trying to remember how many times I “bailed out” of a 12’ high swing! Our children may be members of the “safest generation,” but it surely is not one to build their confidence, or their physical skills, or their sense of responsibility, or even their sense of compassion for others. The Brands were risking everything to bring hope and opportunity to lepers, which, by the way, they did very successfully.
I’m sorry, and I really do understand the current risks, but they have never been absent from life. If you are going to wait for anything until it’s safe, you’ll never do it. Be careful out there, but don’t stop living! Currently I’m not only in the highest risk category for Covid-19, but also from my cancer which is increasingly gnawing at my body. But here’s the thing: If you learn to live with risk, you’re going to die someday, but life will have been an incalculable delight. If you can successfully avoid risk, you’re still going to die someday, and you will have missed the whole adventure!
And may I also say, the God who risked everything to show up on earth is the same God who promises to walk with you through risk, and ultimately through death itself. I sure hope we can still take risks in heaven!


John Wilder said...

The Humanoids by Jack Williamson looks at this, though the robots are far better than Leftists.

heresolong said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll look it up.

NotClauswitz said...

Very interesting, as a Missionary Kid I also ran around and climbed trees in the Western Ghat mountains of South India…and my Dad’s girl-cousin “Aunt Joan” ran around the Eastern Ghat mountains…and I slipped off a 20’ swing that was only available via a rope handed up to the roof of our bungalow, from which we launched as the swing descended. Quite a ride!