Life is a risky business



George Hasara – Columnist

You can go through life always wearing a hockey helmet just in case you fall or hit your noggin. However, most of us pass on that option. Maybe we don’t want to muss up our hair or perhaps we would rather avoid conversation starters such as “Hey, what’s up with the hockey helmet?” It’s not that there haven’t been times in our lives when we could have benefited from head protection, but for most people, it simply isn’t a precaution worth taking.

There’s virtually nothing we can do that doesn’t at least have a theoretical possibility of harming others or ourselves. Simply walking down the street sets up a whole host of potential scenarios for mayhem. From stepping into oncoming traffic that causes a vehicle collision chain reaction to sneezing and infecting a passerby with a virus. The possibilities are endless. The other thing that is endless, is the pretenses for ever-increasing government meddling in our lives. It’s always “for our own good,” especially the good of the children.

An all-purpose, catchphrase is “if it saves one life.” There is no shortage of possible bans or restrictions that will, in fact, save lives. Small children tragically drown in 5-gallon plastic buckets. Estimates range around a couple of dozen fatalities in the U.S. on a yearly basis. This figure is embedded in the general numbers for drownings which are around 3,500 deaths a year. The loss of any life is a tragic event but does prevention involve the banning of the 5-gallon pail? 

Hot dogs can be dangerous especially for small children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “17% of food-related asphyxiations in those younger than 10 are caused by hot dogs”  A prohibition on hot dogs could prevent choking deaths, but is that really the answer?

When I was a little boy while playing with a friend, we got trapped in a steamer trunk. After hearing the screams for help, my father ripped off the top of the trunk with his bare hands. It was one of the few times I didn’t get in trouble for doing something stupid. Needless-to-say, the steamer trunk was never seen again in our home. My dad didn’t write his congressman or try to get a steamer trunk ban enacted. He just got rid of the “death trap” disguised as a storage container.

Unseen dangers also lurk for us adults. A handful of deaths result from small appliance electrocutions. No, I’m not giving up my toaster but I really should stop using a metal fork to pry out the bread. Recently I learned of Naegleria fowleri which is a rare brain-eating amoeba found in freshwater, especially in the South. Ban swimming in lakes and rivers or take your chances?

The point is that virtually everything can pose a risk under the right, or I should say, wrong circumstances. Government prohibitions and regulations, regardless of their good intentions, can not replace personal responsibility. Life can be dangerous and none of us get out of this thing alive, even if we wear a hockey helmet.

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