What Happens if there is no Risk?


What Happens if there is no Risk?


All advancements society has made since its beginning have been involved with risk. Consider some synonyms: danger, hazard, imminence, menace, peril, pitfall, threat, trouble. It sounds like a definition of a horror movie. Perhaps it is.

What happens to society if we become risk adverse? What happens if we reach the point where we wrap ourselves in cotton wool and tell ourselves that the only way to live is to have no risk, to rely completely on some central control that ‘fixes’ everything and removes all danger, hazard, peril, pitfall, threat, and trouble from our lives.

When I was in the Army, I felt I was in the center of the risk adverse universe. OK, if we had to go into battle, we took tremendous risk, the rest of the time, there was none. We were told what to wear, where and when and what to eat, when and where to sleep, what movies we could watch, what TV shows to see, when and where to go on vacation. We were told what to buy (at the commissary or PX), when and where to live and when to move. Schools were provided for our kids, and churches in which to worship. We were even told who should be our friends and when and where to play with them.

Except in battle, the military is a risk adverse institution, and one that has little creativity, almost no leeway in decision making. There are manuals for everything and ‘leaders’ who ensure you follow them.

Although I enjoyed my three years in the Army, I couldn’t wait to get out. I wanted to confront life where I could make decisions, good or bad, that affected me.

In olden days, there were no ‘safe places’ where I could go to be completely without fear. I rode bicycles without helmets, in cars without seat belts, climbed trees, and fell out of them. My friends and I hiked through the hills filled with ticks, snakes, coyotes, and deep canyons and somehow survived. There was risk with everything we did.

We went through epidemic after epidemic – Polio, swine flu, Asian flu, kids died of measles, whooping cough, smallpox, mumps. I can’t give blood today because I was in the UK during the mad cow crisis. We had depressions, recessions, and survived. Just think of the risk we took going to school when the flu was rampant. We did and survived.

What are we facing now? We are twisting ourselves into pretzels with social distancing, masks, vaccination requirements, and fear of any risk. Each winter since time immemorial we have had flu outbreaks. We all go and get vaccinated to mitigate the results. Many still get the flu but it isn’t as bad if you had your shot. You skip the vaccination at your risk. You take the risk. So be it.

We have become so risk adverse that we can’t hear about certain beliefs if they don’t agree with us. Words cause us to panic. We reach the point where common sense is replaced with “woke.” After all, if we all believed the same, there would be no risk.

Its risk that make life worth living. You find an opportunity, you take a chance. You roll the dice. You swing for the center field fence. Remember who had the most strikeouts. Nothing happens if you don’t take a risk.

The problem I have is that those who make decisions for us, who tell us how we must live, take no risk themselves. They are in positions where they can live as they please, have plenty of money, and if their decisions are wrong, they simply move on, with no consequences.

The rest of us take actual risk, and win or lose, do so with honor. So be it.



Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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