Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously suggested that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, and I’ve had a few occasions over the last few weeks of The Day Job to think that he was absolutely right.
We’re allowing governments and other authoritarian do-gooders to wrap us completely and utterly in cotton wool, and far from enhancing our lives this encroachment by the nanny state into everything we do is on the point of preventing us from having any fun at all.
Various topics on Talking Heads recently have touched on this – we often hear that ‘health and safety considerations’ mean that people are prevented from doing things they’ve been enjoying for generations.
Last week there was some debate over how far our government should be involved in regulating and authorising street parties to celebrate the Royal Wedding – do we really need civil servants to advise us that using paper plates will help reduce the washing up?
In fairness, I think the guidance notes are well-intentioned and there are some parts of the document that could be useful – though I can’t help but think that previous street parties were organised by just blocking a street off, making a mountain of butties and cakes and laying out some trestle tables and chairs.
Another aspect of all this is the rise in allergies, intolerances and illnesses. Billions are spent worldwide every year to come up with new drugs, but as soon as one disease is cured another dozen seem to spring up in its place.
Whilst my entire medical training is limited to being married to a nurse once, it seems that our constant quest to provide a sterile environment and ‘kill 99.9 per cent of all household germs’ means that our bodies are no longer left to deal naturally with bugs, viruses and infections. In my day (and I feel so old saying that) if you didn’t come home from playing out covered in dirt, cuts and bruises, you hadn’t had a good time.
How about having to don helmets, knee and elbow pads to ride a child’s pushbike around? Do me a favour – isn’t falling off an important part of the process? You can tell a toddler not to put their hand in the fire until you’re blue in the face – but it’s only when they get close enough to get singed that the ‘life lesson’ is properly learned. And no, I’m not suggesting that we maim our children to prove a point – the human body has a great inherent capacity to stop short of most self-inflicted disasters.
Another topic we covered on the wireless recently was mental health, and a similar theme came through there. Lots of people these days apparently become highly stressed by the challenges of daily life, but my worry is that some of us don’t have anything serious enough to obsess about – previous generations had the horrors of infant mortality, epidemics, real poverty and wars to deal with. Any of those things would put ‘relationship issues’ into stark perspective, surely?
I blame the lawyers – especially the American ones who invented the blame culture that infects every aspect of modern life. Nobody can do anything any more without worrying about being sued if it goes wrong.
This is going to mean soon that nobody really does much of anything. In fact, we’re so risk-averse these days that we’re in danger of existing safely without really living.
My life has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs – and on reflection I reckon the lows were more important in the great scheme of things than the highs. So let’s live a bit, risk getting it wrong and only worry about things we have any real control over.
Whilst bouncing back from every latest disaster, Stu presents Talking Heads each weekday lunchtime on Manx Radio. Call in on 661368, text 166177 and follow the programme on Facebook and Twitter.