It Is Better To Be Safe Than Sorry… I Guess

Let me tell you this.

In 1912 The James A. Farley Post Office Building was built, and it is the main post office building in New York City. It is famous for an inscription that reads:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

The origin of the phrase however, goes back considerably further than 1912. It was translated by a Harvard Professor, George Herbert Palmer, from an ancient Greek work of Herodotus describing the Persian system of mounted postal carriers circa 500 B.C. That inscription read:

“It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.

Fast forward to January 27, 2015 and you will find on the United States Postal Service Website a service alert informing the public that mail delivery was cancelled in the listed areas. Included was Western Nassau, where I live. My driveway had about six inches of snow, and the roads where I live have all been plowed since the early morning.

Now let me begin by saying I am not stupid. I understand completely why the Governor of NY, Andrew Cuomo, issued a “travel ban on all state and local roads in thirteen downstate counties”, my home county of Nassau included. It should be obvious that the liability of not doing so could cost the state millions in lawsuit payments should someone venture on a road and have an accident, get stranded, or one of the countless other reasons why people sue the state. I get it. I just don’t like it.

I don’t like my perception that our society is becoming weak and fragile. I don’t like my perception that our society is full of individuals who no longer take responsibility for their actions, but instead constantly seek to blame others or society as a whole. I don’t like my perception that society no longer looks to themselves, close friends, and family to solve their problems, but rather to the government. In short, I just don’t like many of the perceptions I have of our modern society.

Where is the rugged self-reliance that contributed to this country’s greatness? How many people today do you think would pack up their belongings in a car, and move somewhere that had hostile inhabitants, wild animals, extreme harsh weather and no food or shelter waiting when they arrived? I’d venture to say, not many.

What happened to the pride people used to have, not only in themselves, but in their families, their friends, and their careers? I see a society where people dress ridiculously, and act just as bad, if not worse. They have children out of wedlock without a second thought; they lie, cheat, steal, and not only from friends, but family as well. For every one competent person I see working, there are ten who can’t even perform their jobs. Gone are the days of the uniformed elevator man, who, by today’s standards, had a very menial, boring and unglamorous job, yet acted as though he was guardian of the highest dignitaries of society.

Many people constantly look to assign blame for their own actions. Contacting a lawyer to initiate a lawsuit has become as commonplace as a family going to church once was. While it is fair to say that the accountability forced by fear of lawsuits has made the country safer in many regards, it has also made for a society that is in constant fear of getting sued. I remember cutting my foot on glass at a hotel pool once when I was young. Apparently some teenagers where drinking beer the night before and a bottle had been broken poolside. My younger brother and I were in the pool before it was officially open, and I cut my foot jumping into the pool. The owner of the hotel apologized profusely. He paid for a doctor to remove the glass, and gave us a room for free for the remainder of our stay. My grandfather, who had taken my brother and I on the vacation, was very grateful, and that was the end of it. What do you think would most likely happen today if a 10 year old cut his foot on glass from a broken beer bottle at a hotel pool?

Finally, I just don’t like the sense of entitlement people seem to have these days. Everyone seems to want something from the government, either not comprehending that something from the government isn’t “free”, or simply not caring that it isn’t. It is my belief that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” as Abe Lincoln said, should strive to do things that benefit all of society, not individuals. Because when individuals begin to look to their government for basic needs, they tend to stop trying to provide for themselves.

I understand the notion of “better safe than sorry”. I am just not certain that society isn’t becoming “too safe” and that “we’ll be sorry” because of it.

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