Risk management (Risikomanagement, auf Deutsch), is an often heard combination of words these days, and a friend of ours has pointed out that my husband's job, advising people in the use of safety-critical software, is trendy work to be doing.
I used to get teased for telling my children to "take care" all the time, but nowadays the whole of the western world seems obsessed with caution, security procedures, safety issues, how to mitigate the evils that might fall on us at any moment like the twin towers of New York City. Hours and hours are spent analysing the financial risks we take. Chris wrote a program to generate 1,000,000 possible futures for him and me the other day. Well, he likes playing with numbers (whereas I'm more of of a reactive than proactive sort). Not to worry, if the computer got it right, in 85% of our possible lives to come we won't end up completely destitute. That's reassuring!
We seem to have lost confidence in ourselves. Either that or we can no longer bear the thought, in this modern world, of the inevitability of death and destruction.
At the same time, the risks some people are willing to take seem to increase dramatically. A Spiderman scales skyscrapers without a safety harness, a parachutist leaps into free-fall hundreds of metres into the deepest of caves and divers throw themselves off ever higher waterfalls (see the last two minutes of this video clip). The stricter the norms, the greater our defiance of them, no doubt.
There's a sports clothing shop in town with a quotation displayed on its window: Do something that scares you every day! That's not bad advice, a bit like the Quaker slogan: Live adventurously.
Anyway I did something unusual though not exactly scary a week ago, went for a ride in a motorbike (Yamaha) sidecar without wearing a seatbelt. There I am in the picture, ready to set off. More about this in another post.