The Semi-Adventures of a Nomadic Mathematician Rotating Header Image

For Your Own Safety

`Für Ihre Sieherheit’, the statement stares at me from the seat pocket in front of me on a Lufthansa flight. Bright images communicate that if the aircraft lost altitude in a non-canonical way and we were to flee, I should not wear heels.

How much I hate the word `safety’! It is the mantra of the twenty-first century. Everything is for our safety. Fasten your seatbelts. Respect the speed limit. Do not lean over the railing. It is tiresome. `Safety’ creates an environment in which the dumbest can also survive and thrive.

In any kind of argument, when other options are exhausted, the last word is `it is for safety’. I have accounts in different currencies at my bank. Eighty-five US dollars were stationed on one for about half a year, and I wanted to convert them to a more useful currency. Ibanking did not allowed me. After a few rounds of angry email exchange with the bank, it turned out they froze the account because there was no movement for six months. I asked why. The answer was `for safety’. When I pressed further how it was safe that I was not allowed to transfer money between my own accounts, the answer was `for safety’. Tautology goes strong among the mentally challenged.

We are entrenched in the sickening rhetoric of safety. All of our communication is monitored for our safety. Infinite hard disks record every electronic fart we make, set up by zealous governments for our safety. Unencrypted communication is a favourite of the espionage establishment, but they also figured a way to tamper with the encryption schemes, all for our safety. Mention the word vegan just once in any correspondence, and an entire unit dedicated to eliminate ecoterrorism will be on alert till you kick the bucket, following you from IP address to IP address.

Absurd collection of safety cameras

For your safety, we record your every movement from four different angles.

This institutionalized safety highlights that the argument has followers on both sides. For the individual, `safety’ spares mental effort: my money is safe because I cannot transfer between my own accounts, isn’t that great? I am safe because my entire internet traffic is monitored for my own safety, which is just lovely.

Then, on the other side, for a financial institution or a government, `safety’ is a neat form of control. For your safety, we read all your emails. For your safety, we ban all drugs. For your safety, we bomb a few countries back to the stone age.

I often wonder about the control aspect of safety. This whole safety nonsense inflated the value of human life. From the moment we pop out of a womb, we are taught that human life is priceless, that we are all so bloody important, and therefore we must be safe. And controlled. Uncontrolled is not safe. Control yields power to a small group sitting on top of the society, in either financial or political terms.

Sumo wrestlers about to reconnect with Mother Earth

Safety is overrated: let’s hit the ground head-first.

I never understood power. I never understood why human life is priceless — its value is grossly overrated. We are all on the verge of being worthless. Our aspirations amount to empty nothings. So we do not have to be safe. We do not have to fasten the seatbelt: nothing will change if we fly half-way across an aircraft in a bad turbulence, and it seriously does not matter whether you wear your heels when the plane disintegrates in mid-air. I want to be able to transfer money between my own accounts, even though it is dangerously unsafe. I want to be able to read the online recipe of a vegan coconut curry without a quintet of Anglosaxon countries snooping at my communication for my own safety. I know, I know, coconut curries are a great peril to society, but I still want to read about them. Safety is meaningless.

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