School is back in session, Labour Day has come and gone, and finally the annoying messages on signs in front of schools, churches and some businesses reminding you to "Have a safe summer" have been replaced. Several local schools had "Have a safe summer" displayed out front for the entire months of July and August. One school went further and said "Have a safe summer and don't drink and drive." A church down the road told us to "Have a blessed and safe summer".
When did this become so common? What happened to "Have a fun summer", or an "enjoyable" or "relaxing" one? I don't like being reminded that, if I'm not constantly vigilant, my vacation might kill me. This is, to me, a manifestation of an unfortunate Canadian tendency to always see the dark lining in every silver cloud. We are always looking for reasons to not do things, not take risks, not to be different. And as for summer, just to be on the safe side, don't have fun. Stay out of that swimming pool - it's full of E. coli. By the way, do you know how many Canadians are maimed every year in drunk barbecuing accidents?
Our attitude to our government is a more complex example of this same phenomenon. Let's not get involved - we're Canadians, we don't want anyone hurt. Lets get the government to regulate all risky behaviour to save us from taking personal responsibility for our own safety. How many times have we been told by some level of government that we have to make sacrifices or do inconvenient or unpleasant things as a society because the alternative is not safe, and anyway, if it saves one life, it's worth it? Mandatory bicycle helmets are a good example, or banning perfume in public buildings, or prohibiting peanuts in schools.
We might as well put signs up that say "Don't get too cocky, it could all go to hell at any moment." If I had a sign in front of my house, every summer I'd say "It's only warm in this country for three months of the year - loosen your tie and have a beer, for crying out loud."