I can’t (and of course, part of the answer there is “duh!”) Let today’s question count, though, as a full category of Continuum Questions. CQ’s, as we’ll call them, are questions that let us acknowledge that everything we do is far from absolute. Everything falls on a continuum.
Take the safety question. I was asking a mom here if we could carpool, and she asked if I had a carseat for each boy. Well, we were told not to bother bringing carseats, and it’s true that they are used mostly by foreigners. When I said, “nope, we don’t have carseats, we just use seatbelts.” Her face fell. It looked like, by her reaction, I was about as safe as the many parents here who let little kids ride in the front seat, unbuckled, with the window down and their head peering out. Like there was no continuum – it was either extreme high-end safety, or nothing. There was no step-down, no in-between.
I encountered the same thing while pregnant. I wanted a doctor who wanted to avoid c-sections (in NJ the c-section rate was between 37-45% – the World Health Organization says anything over 15% is excessive and increases risks). But to the OB I first saw, everything was a crisis, and she said to me, “If I see any sign of distress, or if labor slows too much, you *will* have a c-section. Don’t you want the best for your baby?” Again, an absolute – as though if I want to consider options, I don’t love my baby. Honestly.
I talked before about target markets, and the developed world is a target market for FEAR! Anything that seems dangerous is worth spending infinite amounts on. There are no acceptable risks. I think that to those in 2/3 nations, where really bad things happen all the time (how many families have lost someone to starvation or malaria, totally preventable deaths, just while I wrote this article?) – people face their fear in a different way. Instead of being paralyzed, they try to get their kids to school, try to make a difference for their future – they try to inch over on their safety continuum. They don’t pretend that life is all-or-nothing; they do their best with what they can.
This question is meant to free us from the paralysis that comes from demanding total safety. And as a CQ, it invites us to look at other continuums in life – of health, of greatness, of learning, of hospitality, of so many things. If you demand the tip-top of everything, you’ll exhaust yourself. Accept that you’re on a continuum, and that what you do matters, but you’ll never get to the absolute. That means that the world can still surprise you. And that is the beginning of a whole other conversation… (the surprises of grace and mercy and hope and love.)