Active Thinking Topic 21 -  How Safe Do You Need To Be?

Monday 21 December 2021, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Any replies to the organizer -

Venue: ZOOM online

Focus Questions

1. Fears depend upon time, place the situation and personality. What would you rank as three of the most dominant fears in Australia? Now select another country and suggest their thee most pervasive fears. What can be done about any of these fears?

2. Safety is always a hot button issue, both for selling media and for winning elections. We are having both state and federal elections soon. As a political consultant, how would you build safety into the election pitch to voters (for any political party)?

3. For two years now there have been energetic campaigns to argue that Covid vaccinations are a) safe, b) unsafe, c) useless. Given that other vaccines have had overwhelming public support worldwide (  ) Why has there been such drama over Covid vaccination? Is opposition to Covid vaccination reasonable?

4. What are some of the effects of generational employment insecurity? Are the effects dominantly good or bad? Note that from the end of World War II until the last decade, employment for most Australians has been highly secure. Now short term contracts and casual work have become almost a norm. Those experiencing this life of insecure or precarious employment are called the precariat.

5. How valuable to Australians is the Medicare health safety net? How has it changed the culture? (... compare to USA). "On 1 February 1984 the highly controversial Medicare system was introduced [by Labor Prime Minister, Robert Hawke]. It established basic health care for all Australians". This innovation was bitterly opposed by the Liberal Party and by most medical doctors. Now dentists lobby hard against anything similar for dentistry.

6. What is the level of risk to Australia of attack by another country? What kind of attack? What is the social, political and economic cost of preparing (or not preparing) for external attack? Note that each Australian generation since Federation in 1901 has faced fears of external attack and sacrificed lives - sometimes real fears (e.g. the WWII aims of Imperial Japan), sometimes fabricated lies (e.g. the domino rationale for fighting the Vietnam war).

7. Are Australians now more fearful than their ancestors? One argument is that growing up in a highly protected environment (as children here now do) actually renders people less safe when they face real disaster. They have lost their street survival skills and resilience. What do you think of this idea?

8. Not everybody wants to live risk free all the time. Some sports and some outdoor recreational activities attract people who enjoy the buzz of risk taking. Sometimes the risk taking is more driven by a social or sexual pose - such as drug, cigarette & alcohol indulgence, or gluttony. What balance of recreational physical risk are you prepared to iive with? How much should others be regulated in taking such risks?

9. How safe can or should human relationships be? Where is Australian society heading with this? Human relationships, especially intimate relationships, very often carry an element of emotional and/or physical risk. This kind of risk can be attractive to some, or terrifying to the point of mental breakdown for others. Traditional societies negotiate these risks with cultural rules or religions. Now laws try to substitute for that.

10. Imagine changing gender, ethnicity, age, status or other life roles. How safe would you feel in these different skins? How would it affect your personality and behaviour? How far can we accept the attitudes and behaviors of other who are dramatically different from ourselves?

About Focus Questions: a) Please read them before you come to the meetup. Think about them so you have more than "instant opinions" to offer. b) Feel free to add more focus questions. c) THE FOCUS QUESTIONS ARE JUST A MENU TO CHOOSE FROM. From this menu we can discuss whatever seems interesting. d) Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding

xtra Reading

Jessica Yun and Nick Bonyhady (November 30, 2021) "‘Topping comes with a fly as a bonus’: Bubble tea chain under fire over wages, ingredients". The Age @ 

Dan Levin (November 30, 2021) "They died from COVID. Then the online attacks started". The Age @ 

Brigid Delaney (4 December 2021) "The pandemic has forced ‘safe, comfortable’ Australians to confront human rights. So what’s next? - Curfews, border closures and vaccine mandates have put a focus on civil liberties, with many saying it’s time for a national charter." The Guardian @ 

Daniel Aldana Cohen (10 December 2021) "In Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel, The Ministry for the Future, climate disasters kill tens of millions of people – and that’s a scenario he portrays as relatively optimistic".  [Quote: "To really grasp the present, we need to imagine the future – then look back from it to better see the now. The angry climate kids do this naturally. The rest of us need to read good science fiction. A great place to start is Kim Stanley Robinson. ... The first lesson of his books is obvious: climate is the story. Compared with the magnitude of the crisis, this year’s United Nations climate summit, Cop26, was a poorly planned pool party where half the guests were sweating in jeans, having forgotten their swimming suits. If you’re reading this, you probably know what climate science portends – and that nothing discussed in Glasgow was within rocket range of adequate. What Ministry and other Robinson books do is make us slow down the apocalyptic highlight reel, letting the story play in human time for years, decades, centuries. The screen doesn’t fade to black; instead we watch people keep dying, and coping, and struggling to shape a future – often gloriously".]

Matt Wade (November 24, 2017) "More Australians fear nuclear attacks and health epidemics than average: Ipsos". Sydney Morning Herald @  [Thor, comment: 1. Note the pre-Covid 2017 date. This article compares country attitudes. 2. On most metrics USA has the most fearful people. Given that the US has more weapons than the rest of the world put together, and more people in prison than any other country, you have to wonder what real peace of mind money, guns and muscular posing actually buy]

Cait Kelly (16 December 2021) "Australia jumping castle tragedy: four children dead and several critically injured in Tasmania - Police say children fell about 10 metres after wind lifted a bouncy castle into the air at Hillcrest primary school in Devonport". The Guardian @ 


How Safe Do You Need To Be? (c) Thor May 2021 

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