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"The Best Safety Lies in Fear"? Do you agree or disagree with Laertes' caution that "the best safety lies in fear"?  Can you provide some historical examples to refute or agree with this claim?

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Elinor Lowery eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Wow - intriguing discussion and great examples!  Fear keeps us locked up so we don't accomplish anything.  I think that was probably Laertes' purpose in quoting this to Ophelia, but it didn't work for her, and I don't believe it works for people in general.  In the book Night, the author talks about how the Jews in the concentration camps sat in fear instead of revolting against the Nazi forces.  Just in shear numbers, the Jews,if they had acted quickly could have overpowered the guards, but they chose instead to take 'safe' route because of their fears.

My husband (a physician) and I were discussing the other night how our country is making itself sick because of our fears of bacteria.  Everywhere you turn, there is anti-bacterial soap, hand sanitizer, etc. - the commercials for all this stuff play off our fear of disease and creepy crawlies, but in reality, we are killing off good bacteria with all these products and our immune systems are weaker because they aren't learning to fight against bacteria.  We end up with more allergies and sicknesses as a result. 

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clane eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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All great examples. I have never heard of the parachutes before- wow!

Another from World War II, or at least leading into it was the United State's reluctance to get involved in another world war so shortly after the end of World War I in 1919. Our government knew way more about what was happening in Germany than the public knew and chose to do nothing to get votes, to avoid war, to hold the country's safety in the fear of going back to war so soon after another one and during a depressed state in the economy. Had the government faced their fears and got involved sooner we might not have a memorial in Pearl Harbor.

Life is certainly safer when we don't attempt something out of fear, but the experience of life is so much more flavorful when we face our fears and try new things.

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Wow.  This quote indicates that one should be afraid of one's own shadow and slink away at the first hint of danger.  Living life that way can not be fulfilling, although there is nothing wrong with being aware of your surroundings and perhaps thwarting the threat of danger by avoiding dark alleys, etc.

What about the 50's and 60's in American history where most families had bomb shelters stocked with canned foods and mattresses in the event of a missile from "them"?

The Jews during WWII who were in hiding and in fear constantly for their lives would be another good example.  I can't imagine living in one room behind a secret wall for a year or more or in a sewer.  Ugh.

Good examples, Amy!  I would also point to more recent events.  Remember the Y2K hysteria?  Thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans (and others) were convinced that our civilization would come to a crashing halt, and bought things like generators, bottled water, canned goods in preparation for the technological "apocolypse." 

Or post-9/11, the jump suits that would allow people in high rises to parachute from their offices?  I am not kidding.  Check out this article posted critical of the much ballyhooed "Executive Parachutes" marketed about a month after the tragic event:

http://www.dropzone.com/gear/articles/PersonalParachutesTheEth.shtml

Or the ridiuclous, fear mongering of the Color Coded "Threat" Level system, that tells us just exactly how much fear we should be feeling on any given day.   

http://www.dhs.gov/xinfoshare/programs/Copy_of_press_release_0046.shtm

Both, in my opinion, advocate fear as safety:  an untenable way to live. 

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amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Wow.  This quote indicates that one should be afraid of one's own shadow and slink away at the first hint of danger.  Living life that way can not be fulfilling, although there is nothing wrong with being aware of your surroundings and perhaps thwarting the threat of danger by avoiding dark alleys, etc.

What about the 50's and 60's in American history where most families had bomb shelters stocked with canned foods and mattresses in the event of a missile from "them"?

The Jews during WWII who were in hiding and in fear constantly for their lives would be another good example.  I can't imagine living in one room behind a secret wall for a year or more or in a sewer.  Ugh.

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