159. The no risk mirage

Modern society is characterised by risk aversion. As our resources increase, so does our ability to imagine potential risks. This represents a danger to our way of life, of which Ulrich Beck, the German sociologist, already warned us in the 80s. The elimination of risk is futile, doomed to failure. But its mere existence as a desire changes the way we live, as individuals and at a social level. We elect authoritarian, populist politicians in the hope that they will, by limiting social freedoms, eliminate risks which are negligible and could therefore be ignored. Individually, we avoid activities or encounters in which we perceive a risk. We stifle the freedom of our children to grow up happy. We diet, we monitor, we stay in, we keep our children on the sofa on a sunny day. We accept abuses of the freedoms of minorities, callousness to refugees and immigrants, to those in need. We choose the certainty of a lesser life to avoid unlikely, if not imaginary, risks which never go fully away 

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