Safety 4th

by Jens Braun
Quaker Intentional Village, Canaan


New is better. You deserve a break. Go ahead, have it all. What is most convenient?  Living simply and having restraint are equal to living without. Teens are rebellious. It should be fun!


Perhaps not. Disentangling our priorities from the messages of culture and corporate advertising is almost like trying to live without the air that surrounds us, air which is invisible and only occasionally noticed through breath and wind. One such message is the ubiquitous “Safety First,” which seems so reasonable and appropriate. Perhaps not. 


Here is an alternative message (you might, after consideration, lower the rank of safety yet further):


1st: Spirit First.  Where is the Spirit leading? What is the witness to which I am called?  What stands in the way of my following the urgings of conscience? Do we place physical, mental and social comfort ahead of the action consequent to discerned Truth?


2nd: Family and Community Second.  What is best for growing a strong, resilient, capable family and community that is not bounded by fear nor constrained by societal impositions that tend to regulate life into meaninglessness? Do we seek out and accept the kinds of challenges that later provide the experience, balance, and honed skills necessary for lives of service and grace?


3rd: Beauty and Goodness Third. Can we practice and live our callings in beauty, passing through the journeys of this life in ways that, though the roads may be difficult and dangerous, look easy and attainable? Do we recognize that staying in familiar valleys precludes the views from the mountaintop and the wisdom gained when learning from the mistakes that invariably happen while climbing? Do we help each other and live generously?


4th: Safety Fourth, but not out of fear. As we engage in life, it is important to do so in a manner that cares for and nourishes our physical beings, but let this not be at the expense of our spirits and souls. Pain, even premature death, need not be invited, but seeking at all costs to avoid their entrance into our homes can well shut doors to the fundamentals of our humanity.