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The Safety Dance

February 1, 2017

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance
And if they don’t dance
Well, they’re no friends of mine
                       ~Men Without Hats

We’ve always been a polarized society. Let’s forget for a moment how ridiculous The Safety Dance actually looks when it’s being done. And try to ignore the imagery of the video. Really, I just thought it would be nice to have a little background music to today’s post, and perhaps a reminder of a simpler time.

Today, we’re talking about safety, largely because I’ve been hearing a lot about making America safe again. Actually, some of that might have come from me directly. Over Twitter. Because I hear that’s where political discourse happens these days.

We’ll get to food in just a moment. But with this appeal towards people’s safety, there has to be a lot of fear throughout the land of the free and the home of the brave. And I’m truly curious.

What you are afraid of?

Because even if we assume that Orlando and San Bernadino were acts of foreign terrorism, the risk of dying in a terrorist attack is less than dying from falling out of bed. And here’s the thing about safety. It always comes at a cost. The challenge is balancing the dangers with the costs needed to ameliorate them.

Or, to put it another way, is the juice worth the squeeze. Which brings us back to food. But not actually juice in this case. Because I will tell you one of my deeply held fears about food safety.

Fear isn’t rational. That’s the nature of the beast.

While I cannot prove it, and it is probably irresponsible for me to even suggest such a thing, I am absolutely convinced that there is BSE lurking within the US ground beef supply.

The agricultural system is insanely large. And it’s run by human beings. Human beings make mistakes, they get greedy, they pursue self-interest, they are careless. Plus we feed chicken ground up cow parts. Then we feed cows, the droppings from the chickens. In my view, there is a clear line of how ground up cow can make it into the feed of cows, and that’s my understanding of how you get mad cow. Oh yeah, and while there is a BSE test, it’s not something we require of beef inspections.

Not only that, but there was a farmer who wanted to test his own herd for BSE, and the U.S.D.A. said that he couldn’t.

It’s a mess.

But am I afraid of ground beef? No. I am not. Because you can’t live your life in fear, even if there is something scary that’s lurking out there, when the odds of you being directly affected by it are insanely low.

What’s the financial cost of testing our beef? Also really low. However, the social cost of it might be high. If BSE is found in a herd, it could destroy a family farm. People may stop trusting the government, since we were told our meat supply was perfectly safe for years.

Really, I believe in freedom. I want the farmer who runs a clean operation, and who has a desire to test his herd, to be able to do so. I want him to be able his meat as “testing negative for BSE” and I want other farms to voluntarily follow.

This is how we got rBGH/rBST out of most fluid dairy. The consumer demanded it, and local farms made the switch.

What’s the cost for refusing refugees, even temporarily, from war torn regions of the middle east? I think we might have to return the Statue of Liberty to France, and reevaluate what it was that made America great in the first place.

Because part of what made this country remarkable was its immigrant culture.

I heard someone on the radio say that they would rather play defense from the 50 yard line instead of in the end zone. The metaphor was about fighting foreign terrorists on foreign soil, instead of in our own backyard.

And I get the analogy.

But for argument’s sake, let’s pick a high number and say for every 1,000 refugees there are 10 people who want to cause harm and chaos. Perhaps we’re marginally safer for not letting those people into our country. However, we’re missing out on 990 potentially amazing future Americans. One of them could create the next wave technological gadget. Another might open a restaurant in your neighborhood. Perhaps here their child will have a chance at a great public education, and come up with a cure for cancer. This isn’t about some hippy dippy feel-good sensitive liberal nonsense. It’s about doing something that’s in our own self interest.

After all, it was refugees who helped America end World War II. And some of the Jews escaping Germany were considered to be as dangerous by average Americans, as the Muslims trying to get out of Syria are now.

I refuse to be scared of the demons that might be lurking in the shadows. Fear may not be rational, but you can still make choices without giving into those feelings. Because being brave doesn’t mean having no fear. Bravery involves being afraid of something, but doing it anyway.

Now I’ve got to take care of a few things before heading off to lunch at Persian Bite at 12:30. Lunch will not be about politics. It will be about food and community. Maybe I’ll see you there.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ewan permalink
    February 1, 2017 4:20 pm

    Speaking as an immigrant: 10 in 1000 is *ludicrously* high. I know that you know that. And also that the risk and damage from non-immigrants is greater.

    Facts: like immigrants, they get the job done :).

  2. Pam C. permalink
    February 1, 2017 4:32 pm

    I might point out, though, that immigrants coming here throughout history were not coming from countries with a philosophy and dominant religion that told them that they must convert or kill non-believers. They came here because they wanted to fit in, and BE Americans. I don’t see any harm in this age of terrorism to double- and triple-check people coming here from countries that hate us.

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