How Can We Be Safe?

Safety is at the heart of a number of today’s most pressing issues. We all want to feel safe, but what does that really mean? Is it even possible to be safe from everything?

There are several different threats facing us, and fear of those threats drive our behavior, from how we speak, to who we vote for, to how we want our taxes allocated.

Some people feel they are not safe on an individual, personal level. For example, someone might be afraid of crime, so they advocate for a larger, more powerful police force to protect them. Alternately, others may fear the police, so they urge law enforcement reform.

Some people fear getting sick, or transmitting the virus to others, so they stay at home, or wear a mask when they go out in order to be safe.

Some threats are more nebulous. Climate change threatens our entire species, but that danger isn’t concrete. How can we safeguard the world from this danger?

Safety is harder to pin down as the threats get more abstract. How to we stay safe from losing our way of life, whether it be from other countries, degrading social or political norms, or zealots or terrorists? Or our own tyrannical government?

What is the best way to ensure that we are all secure and able to prosper? Is it through force, like a powerful military or law enforcement? Is it through a social safety net to protect the weakest or most disadvantaged? A strong set of laws, with a punitive penal system? An armed populace? Collective action, including protests?

How can we be safe?

Related questions:  How do you know who to trust? Where does authority come from? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? What direct experience do you have with law enforcement?

 

 

 

How Do You Evaluate Risk?

Every day, we must evaluate risk. Our entire lives are a balancing act between what we want, and what we are willing to risk to get it.

As children, we start to learn this lesson. For example, you might want to express yourself by something you say or do or wear. But are you willing to risk being embarrassed in front of other students?

Later on as adults, the risk/reward calculation continues. Maybe you want a better job, that pays more or offers new challenges. So, are you willing to risk leaving your stable, current job?

Sometimes, risky actions are rewarded. You might risk rejection by approaching a romantic interest, but are rewarded with a date. But risk sometimes leads to negative consequences. Maybe your offer of a date gets rebuffed.

As a result, we get used to figuring out: is the reward worth the risk? Can I live with the odds of failure versus the odds of success?

Now, more than ever, we need to perform these internal calculations. Unfortunately, we don’t have much experience in determining the likelihood of contracting the disease. No one does, because this virus is new and unknown.

As some restrictions are loosened, we all must weigh the risks against the reward. For instance, let’s say I want to eat out. Is the seating indoor or outdoor? How close will I be sitting to other customers? Will my server be wearing a mask? Are the kitchens cleaned routinely?

And pretty much all public activity will have to be evaluated in this way. Do I have pre-existing conditions? Am I  likely to end up in the hospital  — or even die — if I get sick? Similarly, how likely are my loved ones to survive an infection? How badly do I want these groceries, or that paycheck, or to hear that band?

This is something that is going to play a more important part of our lives going forward. How do you evaluate risk?

Related questions: How important is intuition? What is necessary to change your mind? Why are people afraid of death? Freedom or security? What are you willing to sacrifice?

What Is The Purpose Of Incarceration?

When someone commits a crime and they are convicted, they may be put in prison. What do we hope to achieve through this incarceration?

Incarcerating criminals, particularly violent criminals, might make our society safer. If you remove the dangerous individuals from the general population, so the theory goes, those that remain are the law abiding ones.

(This, by the way, is one of the reasons some people support the death penalty. If the most dangerous criminals are put to death, they will not be able to re-offend, and we are therefore a safer society.)

A second possibility is one of reformation. If someone who has committed a crime is isolated until they experience and show remorse, that person can be rehabilitated. They can then be reintroduced to society.

Yet another is putative. If someone has wronged us individually or as a society, that person needs to be punished. That punishment can take on different forms: removal from society at large; kept in confining or restricting quarters; forced labor; removal from any human contact; etc.

Incarceration can also be seen as a potential deterrent to others. If you break the law, this will happen to you. So you’d better not break the law!

There may be other possible reasons as well. Each one of these has merits and flaws. However, to answer this question we need to answer a different question first: what are we trying to achieve? What is the outcome we want, and what is the best way to get that outcome? Do we want punishment? Do we want rehabilitation?

In other words, what is the purpose of incarceration?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What would happen if all drugs were made legal? Freedom or security? Can people change? When should you not follow the law?

What Do You Think About Facebook?

Facebook is one of the most influential companies of the last several decades. It has obviously been very successful in growing viewership, but there is plenty of controversy surrounding it as well.

Do you think it is overall a benefit or a detriment to society?

Share why if you wish.

What Is Uncomfortable But Rewarding?

There are a number of things in life that we might find uncomfortable. Discomfort can be found all around us, in both our personal and professional lives.

These can range from something relatively innocuous (say, an itchy sweater) to something more serious (like an inappropriate joke at work). For the most part, we experience discomfort for a reason. Typically, it is an indication that something is wrong.

Sometimes, however, a feeling of discomfort can be prelude to an improvement of some sort. Most people like things that are stable, and events or people that upset that stability, even in the process of making an improvement, can be disruptive. Change is uncomfortable.

Over the last decade or so, disruption has even become a buzzword in the business (and tech) world. AirBNB has disrupted the hotel industry. Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry. Used in this way, the word “disruption” suggests a change introduced that may cause chaos to an established industry or service, but ultimately leads to a better product for the consumer.

What are some other examples of something that starts out being awkward or difficult, but ultimately lead to positive change or growth? What is uncomfortable but rewarding? How can we tell “positive” discomfort from the “negative”?

Related questions: When is a lie justified? When is it useful to fail? Why do we put up with unhappiness? When is doubt helpful?