Advance View: Stupid is as stupid does

People do stupid things sometimes.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they are stupid people… it just means practically everyone does something once in awhile that can get them into serious – and unnecessary – trouble.

Younger people, especially younger men, seem particularly prone to lapses in judgment that can cause themselves harm. (Check out the statistics on car crashes involving young male drivers, if your first instinct is to disagree.)

Personal jeopardy isn’t the only risk that risk-takers create when they seek out their adrenalin fix. A lot of people can end up paying for those adrenalin fixes when the risks suddenly outdistance the abilities of the risk-takers.

The people who offer expertise and time to rescue others from judgmental lapses pay with their own time, hardships, and too often, risks to life and limb.

Many of the people who do the rescue work are paid by taxpayers – that’s money out of your pocket and ours.

Successful rescues often result in medical care costs – borne by the general population through universal heath care. Those costs can be significant, depending on the extent of care required.

The cost of worry – or grief – to family and friends cannot be measured.

Sending the rescued risk-taker the bill for services rendered is not the answer. Not all rescues result from “stupid” decisions, and it’s not always easy to define a line between incidents caused by simple misfortune and those resulting from… well… a moment of stupidity. Knowledge that a call for help could result in financial hardship might deter some people from seeking assistance until it’s too late. Nothing gained.

Warning signs at risk-prone outdoor venues don’t seem to work – on the contrary, they have been known to attract the risk-takers!

Perhaps the best way to deter predictable errors in judgment is to be blunt.

As Forrest Gump famously noted, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

– B.G.

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