There was a time when we, as a people, were almost fearless. Building the tallest buildings on the planet, exploring heretofore unknown regions, allowing our children to play unsupervised until the streetlights turned on and even *gasp* drinking from a garden hose. Look at some of the playground apparatus from days gone by: “Monkey” bars, that spinning thing that made everyone throw up while flinging children from it as though playthings to be tossed about. Building bike ramps in reverence to Evel Knievel was par for the course in growing up as was playing tackle football without pads.

What the hell happened?

Dr. Spock, for one. He was a physician and child psychologist not to be confused with Mr. Spock of Star Trek lore, who preached over-caution, and relied on advice using anecdotal evidence rather than true inquiry.[1] Activist authors such as Ralph Nader whose book Unsafe at Any Speed killed the Chevrolet Corvair with no proof, only speculation, and Rachel Carson who stoked fear of DDT through her book Silent Spring where she castigated the use of the chemical without any proof at all of its harmful effects, yet got the FDA to ban its use with dire consequences.[2] There was also the fear propagated by the 1968 book The Population Bomb, written by Paul Erlich which predicted worldwide famine due to massive over population, a prediction that never came true.

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In fact, to date, world poverty has plunged some 80% since the jettisoning of Marxist ideology in the mid 90s throughout most of the world and embracing free market capitalism.

The poorest nations today are more victims of corrupt governments or the unfortunate circumstances of geography where impassable roads, deep jungles, or sprawling deserts hamper trade and development[3] than the corporate monster or rich debased people eaters Hollywood and the media make them out to be.

Constant bombardment by the news media of everything bad also fuels that fire: the claim of a coming new Ice Age in the 70s, along with today’s global warming predictions of massive sea level rise and certain death, none of which came to pass[4], and you start to see why we, as a society, have crept into our collective shells, almost willing to believe any prediction of dire consequences and end-of-Earth calamity. We’re inundated with dire predictions, awash in fear that almost exhorts us to stay home and never leave the confines of our house.

Experimental psychology informs that “repeated exposure to a statement has been shown to increase its acceptance as true”[5] which explains much. Bombard us with negative messaging or constant fear messaging and we’ll accept it, readily, for better to be safe than sorry, right?  

Even the talking heads on cable news get into the fear act. Rachel Maddow recently told her audience she fears “Trump is going to put me in jail” if he’s elected knowing full well the President has no such power.[6] On the right, we hear if President Biden is re-elected, “The nation is doomed with no hope for recovery.” Hyperbole is the norm, fear mongering a billion-dollar business, and many in our population, most especially those with a partisan bent, swallow it all whole, without a second thought. 

Reading the preceding paragraphs, it’s easy to see why we’ve become what we’ve become…scared of just about everything. In the hope of avoiding calamity we’re creating newer fears, namely, teaching our children to be afraid of everything too, including words. Micro aggressions, Macro aggressions, safe spaces, and the notion “words are violence” are enough to embolden just about anyone to do anything for there is no fear of retribution. Why would there be? We’re afraid of our own shadows, almost unwilling to fight back unless it’s a violent protest against something…anything…wherein there are large enough numbers for those in the “protest” to feel safe, until confronted by authority wherein they then feel unsafe, cry, and accuse the authorities of every sort of atrocity known to mankind. 

What happened to our internal toughness, the willingness to look at calamities like the Dust Bowl in the eye and tell it to take its sand elsewhere? If a Great Depression commenced, would we have the sterner stuff needed to survive it, work our way through it and come out the other end stronger than when it began? It’s a difficult question when we have people who spill coffee on themselves and sue McDonald’s because their coffee was too hot, and win. Others follow suit, lawyers line up to scoop up some cash, and businesses are scared. The insurance lobby is also part of this cabal, but not for the reasons you think. Sure, safety is a concern, but so are insurance payouts, so they lobby Congress to pass laws for our safety, but really so they can lessen their payouts.

Over-protectionism manifests in playdates rather than free range kids, kids finding each other, learning to play together without parental supervision, sorting out their problems by themselves and thereby learning independence. Gaggles of mothers standing on bus corners with their 4th grader rather than allowing the independence such a child needs. Hovering parents attending a youth sports practice rather than dropping them off and letting them learn to listen to others without parental supervision. It doesn’t seem there are unsupervised, un-organized games anymore, only clubs, teams, and “travel” teams organized by parents for reasons other than development. 

I wonder if kids really are allowed to be kids anymore.

The end result is the atrophy or nondevelopment of independence, a debilitating scourge heaped upon children who then grow to adulthood unable to attend a job interview without their parents accompanying them[7] or throwing a tantrum and storming out of…anything…when they’re told “no, that’s not how we do things here.” 

We’ve grown to be afraid of everything, even speaking to a stranger if just to say hello. According to polls, we rarely associate with our neighbors, we don’t attend church much, and we prefer to be left alone, ostensibly with video games or movies or the internet as our only companion. And we still can’t figure out why there is a loneliness epidemic as well running rampant among us. 

It seems we’ve forgotten how to skin our knees, treat the scrape, and get back into the ballgame of life. We’ve lost our teeth, our roar, our collective mental toughness, any of those qualities being deemed toxic masculinity, the very same toxin that once was celebrated and the backbone of a nation that built the very roads and bridges we drive upon, and fashioned the most prosperous, until now, society the planet had ever seen. 

We make excuses for our failures, blaming them on myriad diseases, maladies, and mental issues rather than accept said failure, deal with it and overcome. Better to medicate and assign blame than look in the mirror and accept our failure to address it and become better in the future.

We’re doing the same to our students, excusing the most egregious behaviors as trauma induced learning, and giving a free pass to poor behavior, allowing it to fester throughout our schools and spread as a disease. Addressing poor behavior in an aggressive manner might be too violent, too “without compassion,” all while the offender laughs, takes advantage of the system and continues their reign of terror. This is why teachers are quitting. It is the overriding reason and don’t let anyone tell you anything else. 

We have serious safetyism problem in Western society at the present. A very serious one. The question is if we have what it takes to fix it all, to get back to what we once were collectively; a nation of strong-minded, strong-willed people willing to take on and defeat any challenge. We were once the model of achievement, but we are now on wobbly stilts, many of our own openly hoping for our downfall, without understanding the consequences. Nations rarely are destroyed from without, mostly from within. 

I think I’ll take my Corvair out for a ride. 

[1] Interesting to note he was an avowed socialist quite active in leftist politics, and even tried to parley his fame in making a run for the presidency. 

[2] There are myriad studies showing DDT is not only effective but necessary and poses no health risk at all. The same can be said of Ralph Nader’s offensive against the Corsair where his claims were proven wrong as well.

[3] This is the one consideration so many fail to grasp. Geography is significant in the development of national wealth and the fostering of trade.

[4] To date, there have been at least 50 eco-predictions of disaster, none having materialized.


[6] I wrote an article about such hyperbole a couple weeks ago which can be found at: 

[7] Yes, this happens. A recent poll stated fully 25% of interviewees brought their parents according to this article. in four Gen Zers have brought a,their parents complete their human resources screening calls.