Individual actions ensure collective security

Americans have safety on the brain. We are perpetually trying to protect ourselves from danger, whether real or imagined. The recent school and shopping mall shootings can lead us to second guess our safety. Those events hit home more than threats to a sporting event on the other side of the Pacific Ocean; the Sochi Olympics is just the latest monster under our bed. However, a constant concern for safety seems to lurk in our subconscious at all times.

In general, I would say I am a safe person. Despite the fact that I speed on the highway every day in the futile hope of making it to class on time, I don’t do anything silly like walk alone after dark in a bad area of town. Because I consider myself conscientious of my surroundings and not in a war zone, I usually feel unthreatened in my daily life, not in danger of a bomb or gunman. I would reason to say most Americans live a similarly secure lifestyle.

Safety cat, Sable, helps kids cross the roads safely

Sable the safety cat keeps a sharp eye on students in the crosswalk near Enterprise Middle School in West Richland, Wash. (Photo courtesy of

Of course, author Helen Keller said, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

Yet it seems Americans disagree with Keller. We create taskforces, committees and nonprofit organizations every time there is a new type of tragedy. The Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, which just relocated to RSC (Page 2), is one such example. Avoiding danger seems to be a high priority for U.S. citizens.

And safety and security go beyond large-scale violence. What about safety in professional jobs? If academic dishonesty is, indeed, an increasing problem as the article in this edition suggests (Page 3), what happens when new doctors and engineers don’t know how to perform their job functions, because they cheated their way through school? Avoiding academic dishonesty is definitely a way students can contribute to a safer world.

Regardless of precautions, I believe life is inherently dangerous and while we can, and should, protect ourselves from obvious danger, ultimately there is little we can do to protect ourselves 100 percent of the time; we just have to do our part. For example, the campus emergency procedures manuals are being updated; students should take the time to read them once they are available. Becoming familiar with the safety report (Page 3) is another way to increase awareness.

No one person can do everything, and to attempt such a feat would certainly be maddening, but we can all help. I saw such an opportunity the other day after my night class. When I noticed some light bulbs were burned out, and the parking looked like a scene from “Riddick,” I notified the Physical Plant. It was a small act and only took a few minutes to report, but hopefully it balances out my karma for speeding and contributes to a safer campus.

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