Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Risk Aversion in Popular Culture

As those of you who know me will attest, I am anything but an intellectual.  My world is ruled by my heart, not by my mind.  No doubt!  However, I love words, love English, flirt with Spanish and German, and enjoy listening to Chinese and Korean.

And so, I would like to share just a para of an article.  You may find the rest at the following addy:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17777556

"We are living in a risk-averse culture - there's no doubt about that.

But the risk that people seem most reluctant taking is not a physical but a mental one: just as the concrete in children's playgrounds has been covered with rubber, so the hard truth about the effort needed for intellectual attainment is being softened by a sort of semantic padding.

Our arts and humanities education at secondary level seems particularly afflicted by falling standards - so much so that universities are now being called upon to help write new A-level syllabuses in order to cram our little chicks with knowledge that, in recent years, has come to seem unpalatable, if not indigestible - knowledge such as English vocabulary beyond that which is in common usage."

Will Self
BBC NEWS Magazine, 20 April 2012

The main reason I have posted a reference to Self's article is that recently I found myself acutely and emotionally aware of just how 'risk averse' my prairie world has come to be.  After attending a protest prayer meeting in the middle of some of the most lovely pastures in North Dakota, I volunteered to write a short article for our local newspaper.

Having written the article, I called the hostess for the event to clear the content with her.  She offered further information to be included.  Off went the article to the Burke County Tribune who accepted my words with a 'thank-you'.

Five hours later, after the deadline for submission, a phone call from one of the attendees at the event opened my eyes to the issue of 'risk aversion' as it manifests in 2012 near the Canadian border.  The caller had been a kind purveyor of transportation for me and my attending crew at the event.  I had included her name in the article as a kind of thank-you for her consideration.  She wanted it taken out.  'Too late,' I explained.  The deadline had passed.  The National Geographic photographer who had chronicled the event, however, had given permission that his name be included in the article.  Guess he must have appreciated the publicity.

The following day, the newspaper with article arrived in my mail box.  Not only had the initial caller managed to have her name deleted.  All names had been deleted as well as all reference to the woman and the name of her ranch which had initiated the event.  Talk about 'white out'.  The article no longer had any specific information.  Pointless space taking was left - worse than the worst adverts one finds in newspapers.  Absolutely no specific information remained.

It's a strange world into which I have dropped like an alien from some upfront, straight forward land.
I have much to learn and these folks?  They do to.