Cultivating Positive Relationships Empowerment Techniques Opinion

Perfectly Safe vs. Unnecessarily Unsafe

Quest for the former has led to the latter

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” -Pogo comic strip

By Mark Lusky

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” This iconic quote from the Pogo comic strip applies to today’s state of the union. In the quest to keep everyone safe everywhere all the time, utopian wannabes unwittingly have driven the US into a culture of being less safe with each passing day.

Regardless of agendas that promulgate, promote and regulate 100% safety measures for everything from our kids to the food supply, complete safety just does not exist—except in the minds of extreme dreamers. However, the push for this guarantee of total safety has boomeranged into an uprising in this country against over-regulation and the like.

The uprising is Trump-driven. It’s key to what he espoused as well as what got him elected. Now, every Trump Tweet and public utterance are fodder for fears about everything from foreign relations to the environment (ironically, much of it in the name of safety). In fact, his statements have prompted feelings of unsafety in just about every corner of this country—and many others.

This is the natural counter-reaction to a largely politically-correct movement that has been building for decades. Don’t say anything that might offend any race, creed or culture because it creates unsafety. Let kids be kids, but if anything amiss occurs—right down to a skinned knee on the playground—many parents will blame someone for this “unsafe” environment; and look for compensation.

Why do you think that ambulance-chasing attorneys run commercials for just about every medication and condition that has money-making potential because of “unsafe practices or formulations?” They are making a case for “unsafety” without any consideration of potential plusses.

Remember the person who sued McDonald’s because their coffee was too hot? How many obesity-related lawsuits/actions have you seen initiated by people eating food commonly known to be unhealthy and tied to weight gain?

Yes, a primary reason that Trump’s supporters are so zealous is this safety-at-all-costs movement that has spawned outrage in much of the US population. It’s a swinging of the pendulum, which hopefully won’t swing so far as to destroy the fabric of our country.

The push for total safety of everyone all the time was reflected in the policies and practices of the Obama administration—which focused on protection—creating a safety zone around healthcare, business practices, minority rights and entitlements, and social rights in general.

Many of the ideas were good, but ran into trouble because of the extent to which they were pushed. Healthcare reform attempted to eat the elephant in one bite, which was unrealistic. While some found safety, others were thrust into more unsafe circumstances regarding their healthcare.

Regulations on business to keep us safe ended up hamstringing such critical functions as getting a mortgage loan (and for awhile, just about any type of loan).

Minority rights and entitlements were pushed to the nth degree, to make a point about complete equality among everyone. This is great in theory, but often defied common sense in practice. While transgender issues, for example, deserve review and consideration, they are far down the totem pole from such huge challenges as education, healthcare, public safety and the rights of much larger constituencies—such as women. Yet, the hue and cry over bathroom designations became a cause celebre.

In the name of safety and protection, Obama sought to liberalize opportunities for immigrants to stay in the US. Trump (depending on his Tweet tirade on a particular day), vowed to rid the country minimally of criminal illegals in the name of keeping the US safer. Funny how that concept of safety keeps rising to the top, no matter whose mouth it’s coming from. The reality is that there is no way to achieve total safety for the US or the immigrants, no matter what ends up being done.

So, what do we do now to right this ship, which is swinging rapidly from the port to starboard side? Embrace, rather than reluctantly accept, compromise. Put another way, adopt the credo of Aristotle, “Everything in moderation.”

Both left and right—along with extremist Christians, Muslims, Jews and just about every other organized religion—often are so convinced of their rightness that they have trouble compromising and collaborating. The same is true of many minority-population causes that feel their issues trump all others—regardless of how many people are affected. This is at the core of most problems internationally, not just the US—so it’s actually a world challenge.

Trump’s extremism deserves to be challenged, and challenged hard—on the streets, in the courts, among the states, and through Congress. But, also seek to find points of compromise and collaboration instead of just adopting the “us against them” mentality without any common-sense consideration. Both the Democratic and Republican side of the aisles have demonstrated inability to do either—even though the public’s disapproval and disgust clearly show a preference for working together. Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir summed it up perfectly: “You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.”

Anyone who espouses and believes “it’s their way or the highway”—whether it’s Trump devotees, liberal mouthpieces, or ISIS followers—is part of the problem, and none of the solution.


Mark Lusky, aka The Happy Curmudgeon, has voted for Democrats, Republicans and a Libertarian in presidential elections going back 30 years. As the owner of a 34-year-old, Denver-based marketing communications firm, he is a political malcontent who often quips support for “Thunder the Wonder Puppy” as a presidential candidate. (Too bad George Carlin is no longer among us to make a run—although he likely would have known better.)

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