As the media keeps reporting, the demand in western universities – to my knowledge, in the US and UK- for safe spaces is on the rise, many seeing them as an essential right for their well-being. Although the Wikipedia definition is one based on respect towards others, the expression has been used many times to indicate a place where students are shielded from triggers or contrary opinions, to avoid being traumatised by realities or views which make them uncomfortable.
To start with, let’s state the obvious – safe spaces are a first world privilege and what is more, the need for them is uniquely first world, as people in less fortunate circumstances are living, in real time, the terrible events these sensitive students can’t bear thinking of. Presumably, people in war zones need safety more than western students require a break from war-related books and documentaries. They’d like to stop hearing bombs overhead and seeing pointless death all around them. Sex slaves are more affected by being raped daily than feminists by reading about it. And so forth.
Physical safety is never guaranteed anywhere in the world. Wars can start practically overnight, no country has ever been spared bloodshed. Natural disasters also happen unexpectedly, bringing death and devastation out of the blue. Violence is rife, mental issues constantly rising and radical ideologies thriving, with a fair number of successful maniacs to show for it. The world is not safe. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. The next minute is not guaranteed. If the neighbour downstairs leaves the gas on by mistake, he can take 20 people with him, just like that. Pretending that we can – or should – hide from the volatile nature of our existence doesn’t help, just like New Age “serenity now” positivism can’t actually change life to a great degree.
You’re not even safe in your own head.
In fact, many people dread their subconscious mind, repressed memories repressed urges more than anything else. Many are in therapy, perplexed by what comes to the surface sometimes from the land of nightmares and weird fantasies. Not to mention fears. Since death could arrive without warning, any given second, there’s no point living every hour of everyday in fear. But deep down we harbour inner monsters which torment us and which are our personal problem, not anyone else’s. Therefore, if something triggers us, it is not society’s role to accommodate us but our job to heal and adapt.
The safety feeling these students are seeking is artificial. It narrows the mind, slowing or even impeding the much needed struggle to grow by seeing the complexity of the world and human beings.
There is one small step required for these loving social justice warriors to become fierce wannabe revolutionaries willing to fight tooth and nail. Just contradict them. Once. It’s enough.
SJW movements of a broad range are becoming increasingly radicalised, unable to handle disagreements or meet anyone halfway at some point. Those who speak against these peace bearers often receive the most vile death threats, addressed not only to themselves but also to family members, sometimes even minors. I have lost count of the articles I read involving such tactics by those who swear to uphold the highest standards of morality today. A quick list of aberrant behaviours:
- Compassionate, squeamish vegans threatening murder and wishing for omnivores to die in the same manner as slaughtered animals;
- Human rights zealots defending religions which are based on human rights violations;
- Feminists harshly criticising women for choosing to be homemakers, while advocating women’s freedom to choose any kind of lifestyle they want;
- Anti-discrimination activists causing more harm than good by constantly hyping differences which would most likely go unnoticed in most western societies (seeing micro-agressions everywhere);
- Do-good busybodies helping people against their will by publicly making victims out of those who refuse that status, in the name of ethics etc.
None of these groups are really trying for the social harmony they claim to desire; they are trying to save your soul; they are no different than a religion on steroids. So many young people spend their time pushing their “ultimate truth” , convinced they’ve actually found it, even if they lack basic life experience.
If students’ sensitivity is crippling, perhaps they should consider sorting out their issues before they become licensed to provide essential services in society. This is not “able-ism”, it’s just fact. If I want to become a doctor, I need to make sure I don’t occasionally faint at the sight of blood, otherwise that will surely disrupt my activity, at a very high cost to others. The system will not adapt to my weakness. Similarly, if these people can’t handle the subjects they are studying, maybe they should consider alternatives.
When judging their disproportionate reactions rationally, it becomes clear that the world needs to be protected from them, not vice-versa.
Facilitated by those in power, they will blindly push their agendas until they cause irreparable destruction.