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Being "safe" is going to suppress your joy of life

Dennis Prager on

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 seatbelt whenever I'm in a car because the chances are overwhelming that in a bad accident, a seatbelt can save my life. But I get into the car, which is not 100% safe.

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 possible."

 

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.

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