We seem to be transforming our world into a zero-risk society. That is the conclusion of Andrew Michta, who is the dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George Marshall European Center for Security Studies.
“A year of the COVID pandemic has transformed some of the freest and most affluent societies in the history of the West beyond recognition and in ways perhaps never imagined.” He’s not the only person aware of the psychosis that has gripped so many people during this last year.
In previous commentaries, I quoted Jonathan Haidt who explains in The Coddling of the American Mind the cult of “safetyism.” Young people have become obsessed with eliminating threats to the point where fragility becomes expected and routine.
Of course, the emphasis on safety only focused on one factor. Michta reminds us that “few politicians or media pundits bothered to ask the obvious question of why a life threatened by COVID deserved to be saved before all other lives threatened by, say, untreated cancers or untreated heart conditions, and why the rights of free citizens, such as the right to earn a living, to interact with one’s family and friends, to educate one’s children, or simply to live in freedom.”
The impact of the pandemic and lockdowns has been devastating. The economic loss of businesses and the nation’s economy, the unraveling of our educational system, and the rise of so many social pathologies (drugs, alcohol, suicide, domestic violence) are just a few of the consequences we currently face and will experience for many years to come.
If we are to move forward, we must accept the fact that we will never eliminate risk in this fallen world. The best we can hope for is to mitigate risks. And hope that our leaders use better common sense in balancing societal risks in the future.