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Our Perspectives on Safety as We Age

It seems that no matter our age, we tend to regard the days of our youth as "the good old days." We also tend to consider those days as days of greater safety than the present days.

People my age will talk about things like riding in the back of a pickup truck or a station wagon, and joke about how they survived those "dangerous" things. Of course, it is easier to consider those actions safe when the people to whom it was unsafe are not alive to debate how dangerous they truly were. It is only that we survived doing something that dangerous that skews our perspective into the thought it was safe. It has the integrity of someone who survived being shot, or shot at, putting forth that it is somehow safe to be shot or shot at.

My parents considered the days of their youth as the good old days. Neighbors helped each other, families took care of older and younger generations, and the chores they did helped build their character. They had nothing to fear, except, possibly, Hitler overrunning Europe, Japan attacking American shores, and getting polio or cholera. However, they survived those days, and those who didn’t survive those days were not alive to debate them on the safety or danger of the days of their youth.

The danger of the present days lies not so much in these days being more dangerous than when people in my age group had nothing to fear, except, possibly, the Cold War in the atomic age, race riots, and small pox and rubella. It lies more in us not yet having survived these present days.

For those who survive these days, they will become the good old days. The idea that these days eventually will be the good old days to those who survive them will be enhanced by the absence of those who do not survive these days being unable to debate them on the safety or danger of these days.

There is nothing necessarily harmful in remembering the days of my youth as the good old days. After all, those were the days when we could gather as a family in front of the TV set to watch Walter Cronkite tell us about political assassinations, the body count from Vietnam for the day, or the beatings of those involved in protests over civil rights, while we waited for Gilligan’s Island to air.

Ultimately, the proof of the safety of those days is we all survived those days, with the exception, of course, of those who didn’t - and those people are silent about their perspectives of the safety or danger of those days because of their unnoticeable absence.

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