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Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Me Worry?

Smokers know cigarettes cause cancer. Californians know an earthquake will come eventually. Why do people frequently ignore warnings? What warnings does God have your society? Are you paying attention or ignoring them? (Serendipity Bible 10th anniversary edition, page 1067).

People are generally well aware that disaster could strike most any day, most any way. For example, as I sit here this morning writing my blog an airplane headed for Albert Whitted Airport could crash through the roof of my study and kill me instantly. Therefore, a sane approach to life simply requires us to undergo a process, however subconscious, of probability analysis. If the probabilities are relatively slim we ignore them out of the necessity for psychological peace and for the practical need to focus on immediate tasks at hand.. This is something we all do all the time. It is only when a disaster actually occurs that we love to get on our accusatory stump and rail at the foolhardiness of the unfortunate. 

An essential need becomes the ability to take precise measurements of probability sometimes years in advance. But this is most often impossible so we assume a fatalistic stance – a person will go when his time comes. Or as regards my immediate neighborhood, a hurricane hasn't hit Tampa Bay dead-on for years, so I will chance not spending many thousands of dollars making my home more hurricane proof. An android tablet purchase for me today has immediate rewards and offers immediate reinforcement, while spending the same money on a storm window is speculative and the hurricane may not come for years or ever.

 It would be interesting to speculate what would be my behavior if I knew for certain that in five years a hurricane will hit here. Will I began to get serious at this moment, next week, next month, next year, year after next, in three years? And what issues will erode any initial determination to take decisive action? I can have immediate needs – such as new tires for the car or medical bills. Beyond that there are connotations that trouble me even though the prediction is certain – that is, the forecast still retains some of the feelings I have towards predictions in general which in my experience always carry a significant amount of uncertainly and subjectivity. Thus, the smoker may assess that the critics of smoking have ulterior motives and are just intrusive meddlers in other people's affairs and trying to gain control where it doesn't belong.

The bottom line for me is that when I travel over the Bayway and see condominiums built adjacent to what could be wildly turbulent and destructive waters, I have to admit despite this no-brainer deadringer for foolishness, many retirees have settled there and lived out their lives taking in magnificent views of the sea in unsurpassed tranquility.

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