Defining danger…

The Oxford English Dictionary defines danger as ‘the possibility of suffering harm or injury’.  Well, that can mean many things…

The recent plane crash in Nepal has brought adventure travel into the headlines again.  Any tragedy which costs lives will bring with it the question of why?  ‘Why do people do these dangerous things in search of adventure..?’  My reply is simple – ‘define danger’, because danger means different things to differnet people.  Climbing, motorcycling, diving, driving, even gardening and DIY all come with an element of danger.  It’s just how you view the context.  If you want real danger I’d advise you to all stay at home.  You only have to view the RoSPA website to see that 5000 people are killed in their homes every year and over 2.7 million injured.

Unfortunately the Himalayas has had it’s share of epics this year.  Early on it was the large numbers of people and bad weather on Everest, then a tragic avalanche on the slopes of Manaslu.  Now the awful Katmandu plane crash.  The media jump onto every story and within seconds it has toured the world via the internet and social networking.  Now don’t think I’m against press reporting, far from it, but sensationalism is far from what we need.  Cool, reflection and investigation is paramount in these times, and my thoughts and prayers go to all those involved in the tragedy’s.

Climbers, mountaineers and adventurers always run the risk of injury or death.  My own personal experiences have taught me that well enough, yet inside us their is a driving desire to go on.  I’ve taken that same flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and know exactly what the experience is like, and before you ask, i’d do it again tomorrow…

In July, the death of Roger Payne hit home with climbers across the world as Roger was a former General Secretary of the BMC.  Was what he did dangerous?  Whatever it was, it cost him his life, but I would add that he was doing something he truly loved.  I wonder how many people leave this earth doing something which truly fills their heart with joy..?

A few days ago I was contacted by Channel 4 to take part in the TV program ‘Drugs Live‘.  The researcher informed me that the trial was to help people with post traumatic stress disorder.  Ok, I thought, so what’s the deal? Apparently I had to take the drug MDMA and then be put into an MRI scanner to assess the effect on my brain. I enquired about the dangers as I would be asked to take a banned substance live on TV, but there was little answer.  The parting question from the researcher was ‘by the way, have you taken ecstasy before?’  Any of you reading this who know me well, will understand that I do not take recreational drugs.  Quite the opposite.  This shocked the researcher as I couldn’t now be in the trial because of a possible adverse reaction.  Why wasn’t that her first question I wonder..?  How many of you knew the fact?  Because when a CofE vicar takes part in the trial, I have to ask questions about irresponsibility and society.  Talking of which…

I was recently asked why I still climbed and ‘did I realise how irresponsible I was to myself and my family because of the danger I regularly faced’.  There was a great deal of lip biting, until I replied, ‘define two words to me – danger and irresponsible’.  You see to me, being irresponsible is sitting on your backside, moaning about other peoples lives, having opinions about subjects you don’t understand, and not being responsible for your actions.  When I work in education, I see an awful lot of youngsters getting overweight, blaming others and expecting everyone else to pick them up.  Now that is irresponsible (and I would even say dangerous).  Regularly I see people in the streets ignoring their children because their mobile phone is more interesting, allowing rowdy behaviour and not taking responsibility for any of it.  In my view society needs to grow up and fast.  If not we run the danger of bringing up a generation of overweight, insular people who have little comprehension of the world around them and the effect of their actions.  In my view that is extremely dangerous.

Am I dangerous..?  Am I irresponsible..?  Some think so.  Others think I’m doing what I love to do.  I’ll leave you to make your own choices…

One thought on “Defining danger…

  1. We live in a world that is scared of risk. when I think of Alison Hargreaves I think of someone brave, and who had the drive to achieve and do what she loved. I on the other hand play safe sometimes, some of the risks I have taken have not succeeded, others have. It is a case of following our dreams, but if we have family commitments, we need to be mindful of their welfare as well. Dinah, Sam’s mum.

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