Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Protect Me From Myself!!

Nature is cruel and unforgiving.  The planet is always looking for ways to kill us, whether is be tornadoes, flash floods, landslides or earthquakes.  Some natural killers are more subtle than that--like the quarry in the Village of Redgranite.  The water is deep and it is cold all the time.  There is nowhere to stand or rest away from the steep sides and if you get into trouble, it would be very difficult for anyone to help you.  And yet, hundreds--if not thousands--of people come to this natural formation every summer to test fate.

And because three people failed that test this summer, there is now a great outcry for the local government to "do something" to keep people from drowning in the quarry.  Keep in mind, this is not a municipal swimming pool or a waterpark.  Nobody at the Village Hall said "Let's make a 250-foot deep swimming hole and fill it with ice cold water and invite everyone over for unsupervised swimming!"  And yet, there were dozens of people at last night's Village Board meeting demanding that the quarry be made "safe".

Actually, the Village made it's first mistake by making the quarry a park.  That was compounded by putting up signs telling everyone they were swimming at their own risk--and then passing ordinances banning drinking at the site.  Those signs give people the impression that the government is somehow in "control" of what goes on out there--and therefore a false sense of security.  And when tragedy strikes, nobody thinks it was the victim's fault for literally getting in over their heads--it's the government's fault because they didn't do enough to protect the person engaging in risky behavior.

People think I'm joking when I say Hawaii is the most dangerous place on earth.  But when you look at the numbers, it really is.  There are more drownings per captia there than anywhere else in the US.  While we were there the last time, two Swedish women drove off a cliff along a narrow one-lane road on Maui that is listed among the most dangerous in the world and people get swept out to sea or fall off cliffs there all the time because they had to hike out to the "really cool" lava formation described in a popular travel guide series.

And all of those stories are followed by on-line comments about how "The government should do something about that so nobody does it again!"  One would think that reading or hearing about the misfortune of others would be enough to convince everyone else not to do the same thing.  And yet there I was in February, traveling along that same one-lane road that the Swedish woman drove off because the view is absolutely unbelievable.  But if I too had gone over the edge--and survived like they did--this Two Cents would be no different in tone--because there is no way government can be expected to protect us from ourselves all of the time.

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