Tuesday 3 July 2012

Don’t trust anyone. Toronto is a dangerous place!

Recently Toronto blogger Aviva Rubin (http://nothinginmoderation.ca/) raised the question “What should my children be afraid of?” A lot, it turns out, when I researched the topic. They might encounter kidnappers, crazies, prostitutes, drive-by shooters, etc. I won’t even mention life-threatening playground equipment, such as treacherous swings that violate the first rule of safety: Keep both feet on the ground and never ever have fun. Ms Rubin could insist her kids never leave the house, but she has decided to be brave and send them out into the world with just a good warning. But what about the rest of us who are less intrepid than Ms. Rubin? Lke me, for example. I’ve mulled over a few solutions:

TAKE ANTI-ANXIETY MEDICATION? Not. I may wake up tomorrow morning to the news that the medical profession has declared anti-anxiety medication life-threatening and as dangerous as the Toronto streets. Those medical researchers are prone to changing their minds. Remember when they recommended Hormone Replacement Therapy, then turned around and warned us of looming stroke and heart attacks? Ditto with taking daily Aspirins. One day they were good for us, the next day we were urged to stop. Ditto with breast and prostate exams, which were supposed to alert us to lurking dangers. Turns out you may be scared to no purpose. And don’t get me going on fickle dentists – I can’t count the times they did an about face on tooth-brushing. We’ve gone from hard bristles to soft bristles, from brushing horizontally to brushing up and down. Am I still up to date on the best method of brushing my teeth? Oh my God, I can feel the anxiety creeping up on me! And vitamins, once praised to the skies, are now worry-inducing as well. You don’t know how they are going to interact with the rest of the medication you are taking, such as your anti-anxiety pills.  No, we need another solution to the perils of living in Toronto. Maybe I should hop into my car and leave this dangerous town.

TRAVEL. But where to go? South? No, they have those unpredictable hurricanes. Think of falling trees, downed power lines, disappearing roads, etc. West? The last time I travelled through Oklahoma, I saw hurricane shelters in the rest area. Clearly they have hurricanes with frightening regularity. Maybe stay closer to home? Northern Ontario: Uh-oh, think collapsing mall in Elliot Lake. Cross-country Greyhound bus? Not on your life. Think of deranged passenger decapitating sleeping neighbour while travelling through Manitoba. Okay, that was in 2008, but I think I’ll forget about travel altogether and stay home in front of the computer screen, although I must tell you I’ve become leery of the computer folks.

I read in the Globe & Mail (Social Studies, June 12) that recruiters prefer to hire people with Asperger’s syndrome because their obsessive compulsive disorder and their lack of sensitivity to social needs makes them better programmers. Better programmers for whom? I want someone who cares about me.

RELIGION. Maybe the answer to the question How can I keep safe? is to surround myself with people who are sensitive to my needs and generally have a high degree of morality, people who believe in God and being rewarded for their good deeds in Heaven. It looked like the perfect solution to my anxieties, and I was almost duped into trusting religious people, but thank God the University of Oregon has a Culture and Morality Lab, and psychologist Azim Shariff set me right. It turns out that religion doesn’t keep people from criminal activities unless it has a strong punitive element. So it’s got nothing to do with Heaven. I’d have to make sure my religious friends fear Hell. Not sure how I can weed out the wrong kind of believer among my acquaintances.   

Still, if you go about it the right way, religion is the answer. According to May Lou Quinlan (http://www.thegodboxproject.com/blog/tag/mary-lou-quinlan/) all you have to do is write down your worries on a slip of paper, put it into a box, and forget about the whole business. God will take care of your worries! Will He? I don’t trust Him. I’m reaching for my anxiety medication again.

LIVE VIRTUALLY. May the ultimate answer is to distance myself from the here and now mentally, but how? Reading historical fiction or sci-fi or watching it on the screen may not be absorbing enough. I look up, and the ugly world is still with me. But now you can have a more intensive experience: RealTime WWII – you get tweeted the 1940 news by the hour, according to Rick Groen’s article (http://m.theglobeandmail.com/arts/popular-culture-any-time-but-the-present/article4219516/?service=mobile). I’m waiting, though, until they come up with something more soothing than war. How about Realtime Happiness, in which they pipe uplifting tweets to my mattress? In the end, that’s the best solution I can come up with for staying out of danger: go to bed, huddle under your blanket, close your eyes. Ahh, virtual happiness!

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