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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

The Contempt for Safety by the Hero is Morally Commendable

Updated: Mar 15

Updated: 20/08/21

The mythical Greek Hero, Achilles

A life lived without exploration, adventure, striving into the unknown, not going beyond the limits of comfort is a wasted life. Being constantly adventurous is how I have lived life, and this is what I have encouraged my children to do.

As the Accident Compensation Commission's founder of their sports and recreation programmes, you might think this is a strange thing to say, but I quickly learned that no good is served by trying to wrap Kiwis up in cotton wool.

When people wish me to be safe, I say, "Not me!" "Safe" is a swear word to me today. We have gone too far; we have killed the sense of adventure in our children. The pioneering Kiwi way of life is a dead duck. Being safe beyond certain limits is not doing anyone any good. Just look at where an excessive and unhealthy obsession with being safe has gotten us today! We are in a deep hole with no way out. No vaccine is going to save us. There is a way out, but it requires us to take risks. I'm more than willing to take risks. I practice taking risks almost every day. So what's one more threat to me? Ho-hum boring - just another day in the life of Gary Moller.

The key to managing risk - to be "safe", if that's the right word, is to assess the risk and then respond in such as way that is navigated bravely with the minimum harm. Sometimes, sustaining a degree of damage is necessary to move forward. Hiding in a basement, waiting for a saviour seldom does any good, nor is it heroic.

Heroism, adventurism, or whatever you may want to call it - striving to be stronger, explore to learn new things, challenge oneself to be better in every way is something we no longer seem to be teaching our children. Instead, we are teaching our children to be safe at all costs. Boy, oh boy, the costs are getting high! They are unsustainable in terms of the toll this takes on physical and mental health and the cost to industry, commerce and society. How long do you think New Zealand can bleed billions of dollars per year with no end in sight?

We must change; we must champion the hero, we must all be brave. The hero is the individual who strives to explore new frontiers. Without heroes, and without being brave, we stand to wither and die as a society. Cowards are - well - cowards.

I'll use this lockdown as the opportunity to write about how we can extract ourselves "safely" from this awful predicament the excessively safety-obsessed people within us have created for us all.

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1 Comment

Megan Ward
Megan Ward
Aug 21, 2021

I really appreciated receiving this link in my inbox a couple of days ago, Gary. As you can imagine, around the same time I was receiving a variety of messages from friends and colleagues inviting me to “stay safe”. Obviously intended as a friendly and supportive phrase, I realise that it is literally a command! And always makes me wonder whether the person sending it is a robot…

Reflecting on the experience of losing the innate contempt for safety that I had when I was a bit younger… and how to get it back…

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