“Just keep sailing, I guess”

February 4, 2012

In the news recently:

Dutch sailor Laura Dekker may not return home to the Netherlands after completing her voyage around the globe. Dekker, 16, wrote on her blog that she is on course to finish her journey Saturday, becoming the youngest person to accomplish the feat solo, but bad experiences with the Dutch government could keep her from returning to her mother country.

“The Dutch government was not kind to me,” Dekker writes. “I think that the nightmares will follow me for the rest of my life.”

Dekker was 14 when she announced her intentions to sail around the world, and the government was not pleased. She writes in her blog that Youth Care and other government organizations dragged her through six court cases and asked a judge to take her away from her father.

“Over a period of 11 months, I was constantly afraid that Youth Care would lock me up. Also during this period, there were intimidating interviews with Youth Care workers. It was all a frightening and traumatic experience. So often these terrible memories come to me. I can’t ignore them. It is painful. Now, after sailing around the world, with difficult port approaches, storms, dangerous reefs, and the full responsibility of keeping myself and Guppy safe, I feel that the nightmares the Dutch government organizations put me through, were totally unfair.”

The most discouraging part of the story is that we are being told to constantly to be safe, to be careful.  Riskiness is literally outlawed by governments around the world. Even risk only to oneself.

Outlawing risky behaviors is stupid or harmful, depending on how you look at it.  It’s stupid because those who are willing to take risks will still take the risk even with after outlawing it–making the risk-taking illegal just increases the risk and the subsequent adrenaline rush.  It’s harmful because it erodes initiative and conditions people to eschew living for death.  As Tolstoy wrote, “Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.

When you feel like you are pressured to live the “most simple and most ordinary life,” when you know you behave as you do because you are scared, when you know you are a rat in a race and not a human on a beautiful earth, you should know that your life is “most terrible”–that you are dead and not alive.

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