Yesterday, as I sat at a park bench to pray my midday prayers, a large and unhealthy-looking tourist plopped down on the neighboring bench with his female consort. He was tatted up and puffing from the exertion of walking, but he looked friendly. I said hello and we began a conversation about various things. As I climbed back on my bike, he said amicably “stay Safe.”
“Good-bye” [from “God be with you”] or “God bless you” used to be a standard form of parting, but now we say “stay Safe.” Most folks didn’t think about what “God bless you” meant, and most folks don’t think about what “stay Safe” means, but in my mind, “be Safe” means “be compliant” or “be boring” or “do and think all and only what CNN tells you.” Why would I want to do that? I find it off-putting when someone tells me to "stay Safe," and no doubt some find “God bless you” off-putting. Religious freedom is the first amendment to our Constitution, and while God is one man’s religion and Safety is another man’s religion.
During the Covid lockdowns I would reply to the ubiquitous “be Safe” with the snarky “I don’t want to be Safe. I want to be dangerous.” But snark is not charity, and certainly my large and unhealthy-looking new friend on the park bench was only trying to be charitable. God bless him! Nowadays when someone says "be Safe" I just reply “God bless you.” If one of my countrymen is permitted to promote the god Safety (albeit unconsciously), I am permitted to promote my god God. It’s a free country, but I may also be permitted to observe that the god Safety is not keeping us entirely safe. Since we adopted Safety as our god, America seems less safe and healthy than before. That guardian of Safety, the Centers for Disease Control, tells us that life-expectancy continues to drop while obesity, addictions, and depression continue to rise.
When it comes to health and safety, I think I’ll stick with my Guardian Angels.