I live in a safe, suburban area. Runners don’t hesitate to fill the streets in the predawn dark and teenagers walk to their friend’s homes at night. Cars often remain unlocked and garage doors stay open for much of the day. When unclaimed dogs are found roaming, they are swiftly rescued, usually followed swiftly by a happy homecoming.
It’s good. Maybe too good.
I am a member of the local NextDoor app (super cool – check it out!). It’s handy for finding someone to repair drywall or to help locate the owner of those roaming dogs.
And it’s also useful for sounding the alarm when it’s needed.
As recently seemed to be the case. A story was posted about a man in a van (sounds like some twisted Dr. Seuss book, doesn’t it?) that was trying to grab children on their way home from school. People panicked. Kids were kept indoors. The school sent home a flyer. Neighbors patrolled the streets looking for this van.
And then came a somewhat timid post from a person who had contacted the local police station to find out the status of the investigation.
Only to find out that there was no investigation. Because there was no police report. And most likely, there was no man in a van with a nefarious plan.
I get the reaction. I get the caution. I am a full believer in better safe than sorry.
But I also am a firm believer (although not always a full participator) in being realistic about threats. And I know that when things are good, the smallest spec can easily become magnified from a combination of a lack of perspective and a surplus of mental energy.
And that overreaction can become a bigger threat than the original menace ever was.
At some point after my early childhood, parents (with the ever-present help from the product marketers) became increasingly concerned with their child’s exposure to germs. The chicken pox parties of my youth were replaced with the mom doling out squirts of Purell before allowing the birthday cake to be eaten. Pillows were carefully wrapped in hypoallergenic covers and food labels were diligently scanned for possible allergens.
And the kids got sicker. Allergies, including the life-threatening ones, increased. Asthma reached record numbers and the presence of auto-immune disorders climbed with it.
It turns out there is such a thing as an environment that is too clean. Surroundings that don’t sufficiently challenge the immune system on a consistent basis, allowing it to become incrementally stronger and more adept.
And instead lead to overreaction.
Too good isn’t good for us.
We need a little dirt. We need to experience (and be aware of) some actual risk. We thrive when we’re challenged. We flourish when we’re muddied and bloodied. It’s only in falling that we learn how to rise.
So for today, instead of feeling discontent with whatever prevents your current world from being good enough, try embracing that which soils its surface. Because too good isn’t good for you, but learning to find peace in good enough is beyond compare.