Assumption of Risk

The famous quote from Aesop: “Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.”

The reply by Oscar Wilde: “People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately.”

Before these is the harrowing quote attributed to the messiah, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that art killing the prophets, and stoning those sent unto thee, how often did I will to gather thy children together, as a hen doth gather her own younglings [chickens] under the wings, and ye did not will.  Lo, left desolate to you is your house…” (Matthew 23:37-38).


All three quotes relate to assumption of risk.

Risk can lead to reward or failure.  And yet in routine matters we often expect only reward – as things can go correctly, too often we expect that in the absence of wrongdoing or injustice they must go correctly.  Where is our routine acknowledgment that in the common experience things need not go according to our plans?  No doubt there are many real victims of injustice and wrongdoing in the world, but the voices of these legitimate victims (who deserve help) tend to be drowned out by all the self-proclaimed and exaggerating victims overwhelming the justice system, refusing to even acknowledge their own risky behavior.  The most prominent among society’s faux-victims bathe themselves in self-righteousness and a sense of entitlement, and sue, fight, and kick and scratch, all the way to the grave or the bank.  While lawsuits do deter crime and negligence in a sense, is there any doubt Americans are going overboard?  What’s worse, Americans are making the world harsher in an attempt to create a nanny state!

The lack of acknowledgement of risk (likelihood of error) is an intellectual failure of this generation, and I suspect is among the principal reasons the international upper elite are so quick to judge the populace as wayward children in need of absolute rulers.  Sometimes we even read of these brandy-sipping elite describing the majority of men as “cattle.”  Interestingly, this insult by the upper elite, as well as the intellectual failure of the common man to assume his own risks, both stem from the same source: a sense of entitlement.

Hypothetically, if you want people to assume your risks for you, then you should demand of everyone with whom you interact that they personally guarantee your perfect satisfaction and safety.  Would anyone want to spend time with you though?  Answer: No.  Therefore, assume the risk yourself and enjoy what freedom teaches you naturally.  Indeed, to even see the beauty of this life lesson, you probably need to dislodge that warm feeling of self-entitlement used by the nanny state to ensure the nanny’s power over you.  The modern state is quite obviously manipulated by special interests.  It needs to be restored to its roots where it specializes in the enforcement of only very basic laws (i.e., murder, theft, battery).  Even ecological destruction of common resources can theoretically be prosecuted by the State under basic laws like theft, nuisance, and battery.  A vast amount of seemingly beneficial regulation (especially economic regulation) both historically and today is mere subterfuge, designed to curtail personal liberty in favor of a future “utopia” to look eerily like an all-powerful world government of masters and servants.  Read the works of G. Edward Griffin for an in-depth analysis.  Outside of basic law enforcement, self-empowerment is typically the best way to promote sustainable living and achieve freedom.

In my casual observation, the two categories of people most likely to properly embrace assumption of risk are often portrayed as polar opposites in society – apologetic Christians and secular intellectuals.  Both groups come to the same conclusion, but for different reasons… the Christian rationalizes that if something goes wrong, it may very well be his own fault (humility) or else it’s divine will (faith), but even if the Christian rationalizes the event is not his own fault or even divine will, he still tends to hope that the victim and transgressor can assume the risk together without further penalty (forgiveness and reconciliation).  Secular intellectuals, by contrast, simply rationalize the principle of assumption of risk directly as a matter of statistics, internalizing that one should be very careful in this world filled with people bumping into one another often criminally, negligently, and for no good reason whatsoever.  For at least the minor harm, the humble among these intellectuals may be similarly unlikely to sue, fight back, etc.

Generally then, it might be said that the easiest people to be around, not surprisingly, are the humble and forgiving.

Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men their transgressions, also your Father in heaven will forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men, also your Father will not forgive you.”

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