Is Anything Safe?
People are always worried about safety. For something to be deemed “safe” is a great achievement indeed. Or so it seems. Everything we interact with is judged on how safe, or unsafe, it is. Is the food we eat safe? Are our cars, airplanes, and roller coasters safe? Maybe, but are they safe enough? Are safety scissors really all they claim to be?
We are constantly trying to measure safety. That may be jumping the gun a bit. Before we can accurately measure any amount of safety we must determine what safety really is. So, what is safety, and what are the conditions that make a thing safe?
From what I have gathered, safety appears to be a state when no harm can be done. Safety scissors can’t cut, which actually makes them poor scissors. A safe car would keep you protected in a crash. Consuming food that is truly safe would lead to no negative consequences. Safe food doesn’t cause cancer, or heartburn, or obesity.
Of course, some things are more safe than others, but can anything ever achieve one hundred percent, absolute safety? Is there anything out there that is perfectly safe?
I am fairly certain I could injure myself with a foam ball. I wouldn’t even have to try that hard. I could shove it in my mouth and choke, or trip over it and hit the floor. Is the ball unsafe then, or is it the floor we should be worried about?
If I set out to hurt deliberately hurt myself using “safe” objects, does that mean the objects are unsafe? Or am I just an unsafe person?
We talk about safety all the time. We use safety as a yardstick for the things and events around us. But what do we really expect from safety? Are those expectations reasonable? Are those expectations even possible to fulfill?
You might ask a salesman, “I like this care, but is it safe?”
And the salesman replies, “Well, it won’t collapse under it’s own weight, or seal you inside and suffocate you. So yeah, I guess it’s pretty safe…”