A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

RISK



Some things you probably forgot....

“If you lived as a child in the 40s, 50s, 60s, or 70s, looking back, it’s hard to believe that we have ever lived as long as we have done...

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck or milk float on a warm day was always a special treat.

Our baby cribs were covered with bright coloured lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention hitchhiking to town as a young kid!)

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors!! We would spend hours building our go-carts made out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. No mobile phones. How unthinkable.

We played bulldogs and murder-ball and sometimes the ball would really hurt. We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth, and there were no law suits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame, but us. Remember accidents?

We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it. We ate cakes, bread and butter, and drank pop but we were never overweight... we were always outside playing.

We shared pop with four friends, all from one bottle and no one died from this. We did not have Play-stations, Nintendo 64s, X-Boxes, video games at all, 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, mobile phones, Personal Computers, internet chat rooms ... we had real friends.

We went outside and found them. We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell or just walked in and talked to them. Imagine such a thing. Without asking a parent! All by ourselves! Out there in the cold cruel world! Without a guardian holding our hand. How did we do it?

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever.

Football and rugby had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t, just had to learn to deal with disappointment....

Some kids weren’t as smart as others so they failed a year at school and were held back to repeat the same year..... Horrors. Tests were not adjusted for any reason.

In those good old days, our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. There was no one to hide behind. If we got caught by the local constabulary whilst doing something wrong, we got a good kick up the arse and felt lucky to have got off so lightly, rather than turn around and sue for assault and mental trauma. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law. Imagine that!”

Isn’t that great?

If you grew up during that era, you’ll have found yourself nodding in recognition at some, or all of that. Like me, you might have forgotten a lot of it, and been a little taken aback by the stark contrast between then and now.

You see, back then, we were all surrounded and influenced by people who’d lived through real danger and risk. The Second World War was a relatively fresh memory for many of them. And when you’ve lived through something like that, it sort of puts other ‘dangers’ into perspective.

Listen to the media hype, and you’ll believe that the world is an increasingly dangerous place today, and certain parts of it are...

But the part that we populate has never really been safer... and yet not only are we not satisfied... we seem to be going all out to eradicate every last trace of risk from our lives, and the lives of our children. Or to be accurate, the government are steadily trying to do that on our behalf.

Hardly a week goes by without some new piece of legislation entering the statute books, designed to deal with a ‘newly discovered’ hazard, or guidelines being issued to help the poor pathetic citizen complete some every day task that they’ve managed unaided for the last hundred years...

And slowly but surely, the new order of things is taking hold...

Young people, who are most acutely affected by this ‘nanny mentality’, (because it’s all they’ve ever known) are becoming increasingly risk averse. And with this aversion comes a dependency - a dependency on their rule making protectors to keep them safe from the consequences of any voluntary actions they might take. And once you have a dependency like that, you absolve responsibility...

If something goes wrong, then someone or something else,
has to be to blame... Bring on the lawyers!

And here’s why this is very bad news for entrepreneurial success and achievement...

Because success in any entrepreneurial endeavour almost always requires someone taking a calculated risk, and then taking full responsibility for the outcome of taking that risk.

It’s the only way...

If you have sole responsibility, you just have to do everything in your power to get the outcome you want. There’s no fallback position. And the current social climate - certainly in the UK - doesn’t prepare people for that process at all.

The generation that grew up after the second world war included some of the greatest risk takers, innovators and problem solvers ever. The explosion of ideas and technological advancement over the last 50 years is testimony to that.

They encountered freedom, risk, success, failure, pain and pleasure, and knew that whatever happened, they carried ultimate responsibility for that outcome. It’s a lesson they learned in childhood, doing all that stuff in the introduction I opened with. Sadly the current generation will not be so lucky.

Nothing of value was ever achieved without taking a risk, 
and fully accepting the consequences, but here’s the massive irony...

The current risk-averse generation are taking the biggest risk of all... but it’s a passive risk. By simply ‘playing safe’, they are leaving themselves at the mercy of an employer or the government for their future prosperity and ‘safety’. Neither is a good long term bet, and that’s why this is the biggest risk.

Sometimes, doing nothing is the biggest risk of all...

In the final analysis, the only person you can trust with your future is reading this sentence right now. Nobody else really cares that much. It might be in other people’s interest to make you dependent - but they don’t really care. Not like you do.

That introduction... apart from inducing a pang of nostalgia... made me reassess my own attitude to risk and responsibility...

I hope it did the same for you.



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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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