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Dont’ take care this New Year

  • January 2nd, 2012

 Writing the post on email Christmas cards reminded me how many piously urged me to “take care” this "festive season". Yuck and yuck. 

The 'festive season' stuff might be excused as an artifact of card templates from the US, where it is presumably vital not to offend non-Christians. But I'm less charitable to those who've enlisted as safety sergeants in the inane army of nannies.

I did not waste time trying to persuade my colleagues to it, but I wish a Franks & Ogilvie card had commanded “Dont’ take care!"

We don’t need more warnings about the ordinary risks of life. The whole bloody establishment is busy pretending extreme loving concern for everyone. In reality they are enjoying the excuse to  issue orders without the restraint that until recently left adults largely free to decide what risks they chose to run. With a few exceptions (such as drug use) freedom to choose your own risk preference applied generally as long as you were not hazarding others.

What point is there in carefully avoiding risk? We have only one life and at the end we all die, those who’ve taken all the care in the world, and those who take none. So let’s make that one life as full of “life”, as intense, as possible.

Risk is intensity. Innovation is risk. Change to the status quo is risk. Risk adds adrenaline. Little is more satisfying than risk survived, from the 2 year old who has just wobbled across from one chair handhold to the next to the 80 year old whose letter to the paper sticks it to someone in power.

Risk is fuel for the optimistic. For the pessimistic and the timid risk prohibitions are the precautionary cords with which you bind your optimistic neighbours, revenge for their sunny boldness having made you look meagre.  Risk aversion is the tool of womens' revenge against the scary experimentation of men.

We need both the right and the encouragment for other people to take risks. Not risks at the expense of others. Risks at their own expense. Because it benefits us all to have a culture that respects those who put their own comfort and safety behind other values.

The Health and Safety in Employment Act orders bosses (major and minor) to foster timidity. It excused and justified those who were inclined that way, and inclined to micro-manage how others choose to work. It promotes hierarchical organisations with minimal lower level autonomy  because only all encompassing "systems" (read orders) will save the boss from liability.

Now that culture has extended deep into the organisations on which we rely to attract and reward and use the young who crave risk and chances to display courage. We crush the spirit of those who need hazard to the advantage of the rest of us.

When the Police won't let ambulance staff rescue a dying shopkeeper for fear that his attackers might still be around, when mine workers are prohibited from going straight after their mates before the methane levels climb again, and when Joe Bennett is ordered to leave his perfectly sound home in case a rock hits it – we are all diminishd.

Risk seekers will find other ways to express it – perhaps as boy racers, as thugs looking for fights, or in abusing dangerous drugs. How much better for all if instead that challenge remained widely available in ordinary honoured employment.

We should laud, not discourage the altruism of the foolhardy rescue. It should once again be a  defence to liability, that a volunteer has displayed a value that transcends his own safety. Values like duty to others, pride in family, curiousity, chivalry, thirst for adventure, loyalty to friends or colleagues or comrades, determination not to let bullies or criminals prosper should all trump "taking care" in most circumstances.  Those values gave us the privileged position we've enjoyed, at the top of the world heap (including being in the top 10% of consumers) for over 5 generations.

We've lived off the benefit of  our grandparents' boldness and the respect they engndered for altruistic courage. . They honoured it for its own sake.

They'd have been disgusted with their heirs' culture, ours.







So don’t urge anyone to take care, unless it is care for others.

John Key has managed to project his sunny optimism to many of us, despite a rough couple of years. Much of the western world has not been so lucky. Lets use that advantage. This year – don't take care!



I like your qualifier: <em>So don’t urge anyone to take care, unless it is care for others.</em>
And that is direct care for others, not the self-righteous nanny-statism care that simply seeks to impose the kind of care you speak of above.

  • KG
  • January 2nd, 2012
  • 4:54 pm

Amen!  What a great post!


Sweet Jesus it was Christmas, I used to send out brilliantly prepared postcards to my friends on an unchristian theme, the printer would wear out but the colours were amazing, it cost me two weeks each year for these Christmas cards, sorry you missed them, this year I gave up, I sent nothing, nobody noticed, Chris Trotter is a Christian, lets just get over it, and try to be ok good,

  • Richard
  • January 3rd, 2012
  • 4:07 am

So don’t urge anyone to take care, unless it is care for others.

(Or care with their grammar.)
Excellent post!

  • Jim Maclean
  • January 22nd, 2012
  • 10:23 am

It is an excellent post and in my humble opinion draws attention to the fact that those who have had their safety micro-managed will take risks in driving and with alcohol and drugs entirely unable to maintain a sense of proportion between accident outcomes that are survivable but inconvenient and those which are life changing or fatal as a consequence.
We must allow and encourage reasonable risk and accept minor injury as part of the normal growth process. We must also better balance the harm done by preventing an entire generation from experiencing normal development out of fear that a single tragic event may occur in extraordinary circumstances.
No one ever developed healthy muscles by only ever resting them and (as we are slowly becoming more aware) no one develops a healthy immune system by preventing all contact with germs.
Several decades extricating people from motor vehicle accidents and other emergencies has taught me that the most common reaction of those who's actions have (entirely predictably) bought about a catastrophe is utter surprise and disbelief that such a thing could have occurred together with the expectation that some quick fix is both possible and should occur promptly.
Warnings of terrible consequences have no meaning if every stubbed toe is a "very serious accident" accompanied by a three day witch hunt to make sure no one else suffers so egregious an injury! We reap what we sow.

  • Sinner
  • January 24th, 2012
  • 4:56 pm

One of the most important changes to NZ should be to remove all ACC (not just privatize, but remove) as that failed experiment is well over due.
Every piece of the ACC laws should be repealed, the ACC bureaucracy closed, and bureaucrats summarily fired and all pensions terminated (for current and previous bureaucrats).
Just one part of the law should remain: the elimination of lawsuits for personal accidents.  That will have the salutary effect of making people finally responsible for their own safety and accidents – not their employers or the government or the unions or whoever – but responsible for themselves, and not able to blame anyone else or seek to recover from anyone else what is rightfully their own, personal, responsibility.

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