Being Safe vs. Feeling Safe (an open letter to legislators)

Being safe versus feeling safe. The reality is that these two things are qualitatively different. The things one must do to be safe have limited overlap with the things one must do to feel safe. Granted, if you are being safe, generally you will feel safe. But being safe involves having an accurate understanding of the danger you’re trying to mitigate, and then adjusting your behavior accordingly. If there wasn’t reality to this danger you’d have no need to protect yourself from it in the first place, and this realization brings with it a healthy dose of apprehension. This is a major obstacle for people who only want to feel safe.

If your goal is feeling safe, then acknowledging and understanding something as a legitimate danger prevents you from ignoring it and the subsequent sense of unease that comes with it. That can greatly hinder your attempt to feel safe. Now this unease is part and parcel of living, which is itself an inherently dangerous endeavor that no one gets out of alive. Living a free and full life is not a process of making things less dangerous. It is rather a process of bolstering your own capability and sense of agency. The greater your strength and ability to deal with uncertain circumstances, the safer you will actually be. And in fact this is the only way to truly be safe. Anything less is a half-measure at best.

It’s also a painful reality that rules only apply to those who abide them willingly. These rules have little bearing on individuals whose methods are graft and violence. So when it comes to legislation that hinders a law abiding individual’s ability to manifest their agency, you are in truth increasing the danger to the collective. The heart of this matter is the defense of self. Use of force (aka violence) is an issue of directionality. Anyone who studies and understands violence knows that it is merely a tool, and application is what defines it. Weapons are tools of violence, this is true. Violence itself is a tool of resolution. Few situations require it, but the ones that do require as much of it as can be brought to bear on behalf of the just, in defense of their own well-being. No amount of denial or nimble maneuvering of ideas, conceptualizations, or language can refute this reality.

Now I acknowledge that the desperate motivation to “just do something, anything” in the face of certain horrific realities can be overwhelming. But, you are required by oath and duty to act not with emotion, but rather with quiet reason. If you have not taken the time to truly understand the intricacies and nuance of this complex issue then you have no business wielding a pen that will write into law permanent consequences that we as the collective will have to bear. 

Chris Cook, Achromatic LLC

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