I find myself using the word ‘safe’ more and more these days. As a child, our parents would tell us to be safe and we’d be bothered by it. We thought them to be no fun or overprotective, only wanting to control us. We hardly, if ever, heeded their advice and weren’t smart enough to know that such a small word was filled with enormous amounts of love, care and wisdom.
When someone is going into what could be a potentially dangerous situation, my parting words have always been ‘stay safe’. With so many first responders in my family, as well as circle of friends, that’s said often. I consciously use ‘stay safe’ because they won’t always have control of the outcome, no matter how skilled they are at their job. A firefighter could get trapped. A cop could get shot. They have no idea what they might face each day and all they can do is stay as safe as they can in any given situation.
When someone is on the road or going for a walk, heading out of town for vacation or simply running an errand, my parting words have always been ‘be safe’ In those situations, we have more control – though not always. There could be a freak accident or unfortunate event, but we still have more control than a cop or firefighter, a construction worker or a coal miner.
A friend once noticed that and asked me, “What’s the difference between ‘stay safe’ and ‘be safe’? Aren’t they the same?” The above outlines why they are not the same and have different meanings – for me. Maybe it’s be careful and stay safe, but that’s me.
Today I found myself closing emails with ‘hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend’ and it was then when I realized that safety is of the utmost concern to all of us. Not in the way the parents of my generation said it, but in the case of a world gone mad. It’s not merely a matter of a child falling off his bike and skinning his knee or a teenager making the right decision at a high school event. It’s all too often a matter of life and death if we are not vigilant.
Today, ‘safe’ has broadened in its use and our need to say it. The reality is, there is no ‘be safe’ anymore because we all need to ‘stay safe’. Yes, there are steps we can take to ensure our safety – but not always.
A global pandemic. Shootings. Looting. Reckless crowds at local beaches. Road rage. Robberies. Random violence. Scams.
We live in a society that wants to defund police when we need them more than ever.
When my folks and I were considering taking in a movie, my first thought was danger. Being in a public place, where crowds are likely, provoked a feeling of apprehension. Pandemic aside, there are those opening fire in supermarkets, malls and it pains me to say it – schools. Those with no regard for human life and deep seated mental issues, because only that could potentially explain such atrocious actions.
With everything going on today, I can understand if someone is afraid to leave the house. We are not safe anywhere.
There are no words for the victims in Texas – and every life impacted as a result of that horrific mass murder is a victim. I think of those parents who sent their children off to school like every other day, expecting to see them that evening. I think of those teachers and their families who will never get another moment with their loved ones. And I think of those who have to return to that school with that nightmare etched in their memory, living with those images day in and day out.
I can’t imagine growing up in today’s world, or being a parent who has to explain everything to their children and make them feel safe – when the fact is, they’re not. There is no sugar coating it.
I think the problem is much bigger than any of us want to acknowledge. We can change laws, write policies and develop protocols that some people think will right things. I beg to differ. That’s like putting band-aids on someone that’s bleeding out.
We need to get to the root causes of these problems, not just treat the symptoms. We need to look at things holistically, but no one seems to want to do that. What we are seeing unfold around us is a byproduct of something amiss in humanity. We need to look deeper, roll up our sleeves and get to work – or we will never be safe again. This should not be the norm.
Hold your loved ones close tonight. Read another bedtime story to that beautiful child. Kiss your husband or wife goodbye when you part ways. Play ball with your dog. Never take one moment for granted, because you may not get another. We just don’t know, because life is not safe right now. For anyone.
Please don’t grow immune to the mess in our society, or grow complacent. It may be the way it is today, but it’s not the way it has to stay.
Be safe. Stay safe. Safety first, and always.