If you were asked to come up with bywords for a Happy Life, then Safety and Health have got to be up near the top. Life isn’t nearly so much fun without your health, or when living in fear.
But when you put the words together and form a government quango1, the effect is ruined. Health and Safety. Two words that, while outwardly laudable and fluffy, are the antithesis of everything that got humans where we are today.
Let’s deal with Health first. It is clear from my many posts that I do not rank or value human beings, or human life, higher than other forms of life just because we are replete with raincoats, railways and rubber wellies. Let’s face it; we got lucky. The mutations were in our favour. I believe – sorry, wrong word in this context, I know – that Evolution has resulted in our present form. Survival of the Fittest, only the strong survive, all that jazz.
Put simply, if you weren’t healthy, you died. So, if everyone was healthy, evolution would not have caused us to become the fine, upstanding sentient carbon-based bipedal lifeforms we are today. So Health, in the context of the species, is not helpful. Health, as I have argued it, is contrary to the progression of the species from a genetic standpoint.
So to Safety. Taking risks is one of the things that makes life worth living. They have discovered that certain people are more predisposed to taking risks than others. These days the adrenalin junkies jump out of planes and off tall buildings; the closer you are to death, the more you feel alive. It is the adrenalin junkies of old – or yore, if you will – who progressed the species.
Where would we be if Greatn Uncle Tharg hadn’t gone out of the cave to kill mammoths because it wasn’t safe, or if people hadn’t travelled the world, wanting to see what was beyond that horizon? For one thing, I wouldn’t be here writing this. These people did not perform a risk assessment to consider the safety implications of setting out across an ocean of unknown size. They just went ahead and did it. A disregard for safety is one of the things that has led humans to our place in the world.
As a case in point, there was a story in yesterday’s Times about a volunteer member of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency2 who felt compelled to resign because he had rescued a teenage girl from a cliff without stopping to perform a risk assessment and don the approved protective equipment and got in trouble as a result. A spokesman for the MCA stated that they were “not looking for dead heroes”. But they’re the best kind!!!
Society has given us many great things, things that could not be imagined without the comforts of health and personal safety. It could be argued that, for the vast majority of us, Health and Safety, enshrined in standard and law, are key to delivering the society we want. But do we really want to have to jump through quite so many hoops?
On the outskirts of society, where the ages old battle of Life against Death finds you hanging off a cliff by a tuft of grass, the rules of society are instantly rendered mute, impotent, meaningless by the overriding imperative of preservation of Life.
So, I salute Paul Waugh, 44, of Cleveland, England3, for being a Great Human Being and reminding me what being Human should be about.
1 The Health and Safety Executive. You may as well call them the Department for the Prevention of Humanity.
2 about the use of the word “Agency” next to a British organisation smacks of an attempt to get some of the cool to rub off from “The Agency”. I’m embarrassed that they even tried…
3 So as not to confuse the Americans.