Oh, boy, they’re at it again—the nannies, the protection paladins, the God-forbid-you-should-be-able-to-make-your-own-decisions folks. In this particular instance it’s about circumcisions: http://blog.heritage.org/2011/05/23/tales-of-the-red-tape-11-circumcising-principle-in-san-francisco/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Morning%2BBell . But the concept of protecting us from ourselves is alive and well, from the fair streets of your city to the halls of Congress.
It’s called nannyism—the practice of banning, regulating or eliminating everything that could possibly cause harm. Nannyism has brought us food safety laws that have little or nothing to do with actual food safety, government intrusion into the basics of life, and neighbors who tell us we can’t hang our clothes on clotheslines because it might make the neighborhood look bad. Nannyism has added to the cost of our vehicles by incorporating that annoying “your keys are still in the ignition” dinger into the computer; my husband, who had previously just pulled the fuse or disconnected the wire, waxes both eloquent and profane on his inability to shut that damn thing up. Nannyism has led to warning notices that tell you the coffee is hot.
There have always been people who believed that they have The Answer. Since there can only be one The Answer, obviously, those of us who think there might be several answers must be poor benighted souls who need a guiding hand. And if the guiding hand doesn’t work, well, there’s always the force of law.
So what’s wrong with nannyism (aside from the fact that it frustrates the heck out of me personally)? For a start, in my experience there are nearly always lots of answers. What works for me may not work for you, or may only work for you if you add a minor tweak. Second, life is risk, and it is our failures that teach us to make changes. When you’re learning to ride a bike, falling down teaches you how to change your balance so it doesn’t happen again. But most importantly, nannyism carried to extremes stops you from thinking. Third, exactly who are you to tell me— well, anything? Life is rarely black and white; gray has a much larger piece of the color scheme. One size seldom fits all, hence the absolute plethora of choices in almost everything. Nannyism has allowed us to shirk personal responsibility and accountability for our actions. For some reason we have willingly allowed our freedom to choose and make decisions for ourselves become part of this “benevolent” situation. But what happens when the benefactor pulls the plug on the bennies we have become accustomed to? Wherefore art thou, O subsidies? Examples; Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, Unemployment insurance, the list is goes on and on, just like the unsustainable debt it has created. We have relinquished part of our LIVES to unseen, unknown and very unaccountable agencies who can’t or won’t tell us squat when we ask. The sad part is we put them in control, assuming they had our best interests at heart. Right…
But if my world is so safe and cocooned that everything is figured out for me, all risks carefully legislated out of existence, no challenges to face, well, I can just put the old brain on autopilot and coast, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong. Life isn’t safe, life isn’t perfect, and shit happens. You need to be exercising those brain cells on a regular basis, because sooner or later, something will happen that the nannies haven’t foreseen (black swan ring any bells?) and you are going to have to deal with it. Personally, upfront and quite possibly in a hurry. Dealing with problems and minor disasters on a regular basis is what keeps us sharp and ready for the big stuff—the front tire that just blew at sixty miles an hour, the rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike, the dog who thinks you look like a steak.
Stand by for more on this subject!
(This was a dual post—regular type is Bee and the italics are Ell).