(Letters Teaser)

You cannot tell me what to do

To the editor;

As I get older, I remember past events and past observations. I think that some of the lessons apply to the present: for me, my children, and others. But I am never certain.

I remember nearly 65 years ago, rowing across Deer Lake in Burnaby with my friend Jim sitting at the transom smoking a cigarette. We were about 14 or 15-years-old. Halfway across the lake I asked Jim why he smoked. He told me that he smoked because his father had told him not to. I did not reply verbally, but I thought then that it was the stupidest of reasons for doing anything – and now I see similarities to this in certain present behaviours of the public.

Decades later, I was watching a documentary discussing the eventual inclusion of airbags in motor vehicles, that seems also to have application to some of our present circumstance. Seat belts began to be introduced in vehicles in the late 1950s, and had become commonplace by the late 1960s. They were introduced as a means to reduce severe injury and death in motor vehicle collisions. But it seems this had limited effect on the public as many did not wear them even when available.

To encourage use of seat belts, laws began to be passed in the 1980s making the wearing of seat belts compulsory. These laws had the reverse effect. Some challenged the laws in court, while others cut the seat belts out of their vehicles. The carnage on the highways remained unabated.

Engineers continued to try to find ways of keeping the public, including myself (who at that point was being a perversely stubborn moron), alive in a collision.

The solution was the addition of passively activated air bags (now in all vehicles) which would protect me regardless of how perverse I was being.

In the former “You cannot tell me what not to do”, and in the latter “You cannot tell me what to do”: regardless of the benefits in either case. I think that there are some lessons here that can be applied to the present. But then maybe not. Maybe I am just getting old and seeing things.

Glenn Andrews

Barriere, B.C.



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