Safe Places

Safe places are the stuff of folklore. They exist in ever smaller numbers today, numbers smaller than zero and with even less substance. Safety, always a figment of the imagination, has vaporized into an evanescent fantasy so vague and ghostly it is no more than a smudge of an outline in the fading distance.

The last vestiges of safety shriveled into dry, cracked leaves and blew away in the harsh winds of change, long before the crisis erupted into a fully-formed catastrophe. Today, only traces of the delusion remain, hidden in children’s books and deceitful spoken stories meant to reassure and comfort the young.

We lie to youth about danger, attempting to conceal from them the torment that will flood their brains when they learn the truth. When they learn about reality, they will remember our dishonesty. They will accord us the reverence and respect liars deserve. Yet we will wonder why they do not understand we were only trying to protect them, to shield them from the inevitable disappointment—to delay the outbreak of painful, excruciating knowledge that cannot be unlearned.

The problem with the illusion of safety is that it prevents the acceptance of danger as an ever-present companion. Rather than embracing the concept that we must be ever vigilant and prepared to confront and try to overcome danger, we believe the myth of safety. That belief lulls us into a sense that danger has been contained behind an imaginary wall, protecting us from its consequences.

Deep in the darkest, most inaccessible recesses of our brains, the phantasm of safety hides from reality, as if denial were an impenetrable vault. There, it slumbers in oblivious contentment, unaware that danger lurks just beyond consciousness. Abruptly, danger strikes, sharp teeth and claws piercing denial as if it were gossamer film. That sudden insight causes us to hemorrhage innocence. We survive only with a transfusion of treachery.

And the myth begins anew. We tell tales of safe places and lie to the children that everything will be all right. But it will not be all right. It has never been all right. Danger has always surprised its prey, crushing safety in its powerful jaws and swallowing the apparition whole.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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