The Danger Paradox

I generally feel like I’m pretty safe. To be honest, I don’t even really think about it that much. I live in a small town now, and even when I didn’t, I never felt like I was inherently in danger. After all, this is the United States, and we have the luxury of not having to worry about a constant civil war or daily bombings or widespread communicable diseases and things like that. We have our problems, I know, but it could be much worse.

I have been rather disappointed, however, to hear how dangerous my old neighborhood has become. I keep hearing about people getting attacked, mugged, raped, stabbed, and shot just right down the street from where I used to live. It really bums me out.

Then I remember that it was like that when I lived there. In the two years I lived in that neighborhood:

  • A homeless couple set up camp in our building’s laundry room
  • A drug dealer used our courtyard for his business
  • One of my female friends was attacked from behind and mugged while walking on our busiest street
  • One of my other female friends was pulled into an alley, raped, and robbed at gunpoint
  • One of my male friends was jumped by four men who injured him enough that he needed to be hospitalized

And those are just the things that were personally connected to me. I can only imagine what else happened there that I never heard about.

I used to work late at night and early in the morning, and I didn’t really think much of walking to work by myself in the dark. I didn’t always love it, but I never felt like I was in danger. I knew multiple people who had been hit by cars–so that was really my biggest fear. When I think about it now, I can’t believe I was so brazen. I feel truly lucky that nothing terrible happened to me.

The only thing that happened that was even remotely weird was when a guy asked me if he could borrow my bike. While I was riding it. He said that his leg was hurting and that he needed my bike more than I did. He was on foot, so I just high-tailed it in the other direction. I think he was truly either intoxicated or not completely present, mentally, and not much of an actual threat.

So I guess there was real danger there the whole time that I just wasn’t allowing to enter my reality.

Then, among the most recent terrible story I saw about a woman being attacked in my old neighborhood, was this absurd story about a school in the same city that has now made it against the rules for kids to play tag at recess because it’s “too dangerous.” Talk about bumming me out. Too dangerous? Tag? I could see them maybe making the case for dodgeball where you’re really whacking other kids upside the head, but tag?

Look, I know freak accidents happen. I’ve heard horror stories about kids falling off swings and hitting their heads in exactly the wrong place. Or kids who slip and fall and end up breaking bones. Things happen, and sometimes they are really tragic.

It’s just that if we start banning tag, how long is it until we ban recess all together? I mean, allergies are dangerous. Sunburn is dangerous. Walking is dangerous. Toxins in the air are dangerous.

How is it so easy to ignore a super-huge danger while simultaneously freaking out about something so innocuous as a game children have been playing for centuries?

Please don’t take fun exercise away from children. I believe that is far more dangerous than the minute risk of a child falling and becoming irreversibly injured via tag.

And as if these stories about danger (real or otherwise) in my “home” city aren’t enough, there is the absolute onslaught of fear-mongering coming out of the mouths of the powers-that-be in Washington. I don’t want to get all political because that’s really not what I do, but I don’t like it when people in power use fear to manipulate others. It’s frustrating, and I wish it would stop.

I’m not really sure why all of this sort of got to me all of a sudden. I think part of it is that I’m a little nostalgic for my “home,” and it’s like the universe is trying to convince me that I shouldn’t be. Or something. Or maybe I’m reading into it and it’s all a coincidence.

I’m going to forget about it all by going outside and playing tag with my dog. I’ll try to stay safe.


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