I take the light rail quite a bit lately as I commute to work or wherever. As I step off the train and walk to the end of the platform I pause to allow the train to pass by before crossing the tracks to go on my way. Sometimes it's occurred to me at that moment that this giant heavy metal box powered by thousands of volts is just right there and gaining lethal speed just feet from my fragile, squishy human form. I could reach out and lose an arm, or step out in front of it and find out just what the afterlife is all about.
And then I think, “Well of course it is. What was I expecting?” As I continue walking down the sidewalk between the train platform and my office building, there are cars speeding by fast enough to kill me if I stepped in front of them. Trees line the street which could squish me if they fell over due to a random lightning strike or stray meteor. Not to mention the ginormous tanks of who knows what fun chemicals I walk past every day at work.
I wonder why we seem to have developed this sense that we're owed some sort of Disneyland-safe protective bubble where nothing has sharp edges or will fall apart out from underneath us; and when any of those things happen, we have the right to feel that someone failed to do their job to make sure nothing on their property, or within reach of the general public, could hurt me? Related to that is the idea that whatever happens to me, I can look for someone who I can force to pay for it, monetarily or metaphorically.
When did we decide we need to be treated like toddlers? The world's not a safe place, really, and we need to accept at least just a bit more personal responsibility as we make our way through it. Learn that it's not ok to snack on plastic objects. I'm not saying people shouldn't also be held to task for negligence or creating dangerous situations like hazardous child-labor sweatshops or putting a dead-fall trap in your front yard to discourage the mailman from bringing junk mail.
For the most part, I think this is something that people generally do well enough. I just wonder at the relexive response that “someone needs to step in” to prevent us from hurting ourselves every time someone does something stupid.
The Sky Is Everywhere