Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trapped in Fear

We are in the midst of cold and flu season. A few weeks ago I bought a bottle of cold medicine for my daughters. When the old bottle ran out and one of my daughters needed another dose I started opening the new bottle. I removed a sealed cellophane wrapper from the outside of a box. I broke the glued seal keeping the box closed. I removed a second cellophane wrapper shrink-wrapped to the bottle. I pushed before turning so I could remove the child-proof cap. I peeled off a foil seal over the mouth of the bottle. Only then could I pour out the appropriate amount of medicine for my achy, stuffy-nosed, coughing little girl. I later analyzed the bottle's label and found 24 warnings on how you should or should not use the contained product. I didn't count the actual directions - the expected place to find how to use the product.

I’m all for safety. As a child, I remember the 1982 Tylenol crisis in which seven people died from taking Tylenol capsules that some sick, demented person had laced with cyanide. Tylenol then became the first company to begin using tamper-evident packaging for medicine, although at the time they called it tamper-resistant packaging. That term is now illegal. I don’t know the order that each layer was added, but I’m thinking that the foil seal was one of the first preventive measures. Over time, companies added more and more security to ensure the consumer’s safety.

My concern is not how many layers of tamper-evident packaging I have to peel away. Rather, my concern is how this increase in safety is a reflection of our society.

At what point will we be safe? 

How many warning labels must we write before we are safe? 

How much government legislation must we pass? 

How many safety features do we have to add? 

Each new safety level entraps us more into a life of fear.

We have become a society that lives in fear of what could happen. We live a life of nothingness out of fear of what might happen. We try to control every scenario and outcome for all situations. We pour so much energy into controlling our environments that we never realize one simple fact...

How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame?
     How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Offer right sacrifices
     And trust in the Lord.
Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?”
     Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
     For you alone, O Lord,
     Make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:2, 5-6, 8

1 comment:

  1. I suppose the companies are overcompensating to ensure that their customers have nothing to complain about and that no mistakes are made again. It is sad that it has to happen, but some people cause it and we simply cannot ensure that they're rooted out. I'd rather unwrap a bit (or a lot!) of Tamper Evident Tape than be poisoned, or poison my children. Just another viewpoint!