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March 17th, 2020
How long does an instance of being safe last?
Put it side by side with something more familiar: how long do regrets last?
Both have the same answer: forever. The difference of course is that we remember the regret, the stupid mistake, the embarrassing faux pas. But when we exercise a little safety and some risk never comes to pass? We never remember this. There’s nothing to remember. And so it can seem as though the preparation and the cautionary action was for nothing.
It’s a strange set of circumstances to undertake an effort with the explicit purpose of making sure nothing happens. But this is often what safety is when successful. A whole lot for nothing. it can easily seem reasonable that doing nothing will get nothing, and tempt us to let things play out.
We have a hard time keeping in mind what’s not right in front of us. Especially things that are invisible in some way or simply never exist because our whole aim was to live life without the accident, the tragedy.
Successful safety is all about the imagination. It’s a matter of accurately and precisely imagining a world that you explicitly aim to make sure never materializes.
It’s the goal of keeping fiction as fiction.
But that’s the thing: without an effort to try and imagine the worst, we also cease to imagine a way to avoid it.
Better safe than sorry, and in this case, that requires an imagination dosed with pessimism.