Until It's Safe!
From Pastor: FOOD FOR THOUGHT! Saw this yesterday and I thought you might need this. After article, I will comment. PJ
'Until it's safe' means 'never'
Dennis Prager explains why leading a full life must include taking risks
In a recent "Fireside Chat," my weekly talk show on the
PragerU platform, I commented on society's increasing
fixation on being "safe." The following is a condensed version
of what I said:
We have a meme up at PragerU: "'Until it's safe' means 'never.'"
The pursuit of "safe" over virtually all other considerations is
life-suppressing. This is true for your own individual life, and it
is true for the life of a society.
I always give the following example: I have been taking visitors
to Israel for decades, and for all those decades, people have
called my radio show to say, "Dennis, I would so love to visit
Israel, but I'm just going to wait until it's safe." And I've always
told these people, "Then you'll never go." And sure enough, I've
gone there over 20 times, and they never went.
I have never led my life on the basis of "until it's safe." I do not
take ridiculous risks. I wear a seat belt whenever I'm in a car
because the chances are overwhelming that in a bad accident, a
seat belt can save my life. But I get into the car, which is not
You are not on earth to be safe. You are on earth to lead a full
life. I don't want my epitaph to be, "He led a safe life." It's like
another epitaph I don't want: "He experienced as little pain as
The nature of this world is such that if you aim for 100% safety
and no pain, you don't live. I have visited 130 countries, some of
which were not particularly safe. Safe, as in "no risk," doesn't
exist. Accepting there are degrees of safety and balancing risk
with reward are part of the reason I've led a rich life.
I'll give a personal example. I started teaching myself to conduct
an orchestra when I was in my teens. I have conducted
orchestras periodically for much of my adult life. As a guest
conductor, I raise funds for orchestras, as I did two years ago at
the Disney Concert Hall, where I conducted a Haydn symphony
with the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra.
Now, I rarely get nervous. But the first time I conducted, I was
so nervous I was actually dripping sweat onto the score – and it
was only a rehearsal.
What I did was not play it safe. Playing it safe would have
meant I wouldn't have accepted the invitation to conduct.
All of life confronts you with this question: Are you going to
take risks or play it safe? If you play it safe, you don't get
married. If you play it safe, you don't have kids. There are real
risks in getting married; there are real risks in having children.
Take the issue of the word "safe" on campuses. "Safe" is used to
suppress freedom of thought: "If we have a conservative
speaker on campus, we need a 'safe space' where we can avoid
feeling discomfort from exposure to ideas we don't like." A
conservative speaker comes to campus and some students go to
a "safe space" where they're given Play-Doh, hot chocolate and
stuffed animals. I'm not joking. That's what they do at some
colleges – for people who are 18 and older.
That's why Adam Carolla and I named our movie about free
speech "No Safe Spaces" (which you can and should watch at
"Safe" has become a dirty word. I rarely use it in the context of
living life. It's one of the reasons I'm a happy person and have
led a full life. I'm thinking of a trivial example, but life is filled
with trivial examples. Most of life is not major moments. If I am
at a restaurant and my fork or knife falls, I pick it up and use it.
They rush over to give me a new one, like I am flirting with
death if I take the fork from the floor. My view is there's no
reason to come over. The fork fell on the floor. What did it pick
up – diphtheria? Am I going to get pancreatic cancer from a
fork that fell? I'm not troubled by these things.
"Safe" is going to suppress your joy of life.
When I was 21 years old, I was sent to the Soviet Union to
smuggle in religious items for Soviet Jews and to smuggle out
names of Jews who wanted to escape the Soviet Union.
It wasn't safe. I was in a totalitarian state, smuggling things in
and out. But it was one of the most important things I've done
in my life. Not to mention a life-transforming experience.
Before I went, I told my father about my plans. We both knew it
wasn't safe. I'll never forget what my father said: "Dennis, I
spent two and a half years on a Navy ship in World War II,
fighting in the Pacific. So, you can take risks for a month."
Yes, he was worried. But this was a man who, despite having a
wife and child, enlisted in the U.S. Navy to fight in World War
II. He was an officer on a troop transport ship, a prime target of
the Japanese. He wasn't safe. The World War II generation has
been dubbed "the greatest generation." Part of what made them
great was the last thing they would ever ask was, "Is it safe?"
If you want to lead a good and full life, you cannot keep asking,
"Is it safe?" Those at college promoting "safe spaces" are afraid
of life, and they want to make you afraid of life.
We're going crazy on the safe issue. It is making police states.
That's my worry: In the name of safety, many Americans are
dropping all other considerations.
"Is it safe?" shouldn't be the overarching element in your life.