Monday, November 16, 2009

Live the probabilities

"Most things I worry about never happen anyway." — Tom Petty.

You could die from swine flu. But you probably won't.

You might get killed this morning when a drunken idiot runs a red light or cuts you off on the highway. But you'll probably make it home safely tonight.

A terrorist might be on board the plane you're taking today. But probably not.

You might be laid off and replaced by an illegal immigrant. But the chances are almost zero.

In fact, the world might come to an end in 2012. But most of us very likely will live to see 2013 — and those of us who don't won't perish in a planetwide catastrophe.

Every intrusion on our freedom begins with politicians planting the seed of an improbable fear, and then cultivating it until it becomes so irrational a majority is ready to surrender a piece of liberty.

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." — H.L. Mencken.

As you peruse your newspaper or Web sites, as you listen to and watch newscasts, be mindful of the percentages. Remember the truth of Petty and Mencken. Refuse to be afraid, refuse to be led to the safety of a cage — in other words, free yourself.

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