fbpx
Friday, November 27, 2020

Risk-Averse Living Prepared Us For Pandemic Lockdowns

Print This Article
https://jewishjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/jj_avatar.jpg
David Suissa
David Suissa is President of Tribe Media/Jewish Journal, where he has been writing a weekly column on the Jewish world since 2006. In 2015, he was awarded first prize for "Editorial Excellence" by the American Jewish Press Association. Prior to Tribe Media, David was founder and CEO of Suissa Miller Advertising, a marketing firm named “Agency of the Year” by USA Today. He sold his company in 2006 to devote himself full time to his first passion: Israel and the Jewish world. David was born in Casablanca, Morocco, grew up in Montreal, and now lives in Los Angeles with his five children.

We hear a lot about those who violate the rules of the pandemic lockdowns, but the truth is, most people have been remarkably obedient. Overnight it seems, everyone has learned to wear masks and adjust their lifestyles. I see it everywhere I go.

I can’t tell you how many email messages I’ve seen from rabbis and community leaders urging us to take precautions and follow all the rules and mandated guidelines, however stringent.

The great majority of people have learned the art of staying home — and rarely leaving. We’ve cancelled all kinds of trips, from that big one to Europe to those smaller ones to local restaurants. Because we’re all petrified of catching a deadly virus, any decision to go out is preceded by that seminal question of our pandemic era: Is it worth the risk?

I have a theory that modern life has prepared us exceedingly well to answer that question with a big resounding no.

Avoiding risk is a modern-day obsession. “Safety first” is a societal mantra. Companies who fear being sued bombard us with safety warnings. Cars have never been safer; the field of medicine has never been more formidable at keeping us alive; drug commercials are filled with possible side effects.

This extraordinary attempt at making us safer has inflated our expectations and seduced us into seeking “risk-free” lives. So, when the deadly coronavirus showed up earlier this year, we were more than ready to avoid that danger at all costs.

For many of us, a risk-averse quarantine life is simply an exaggerated continuation of our pre-COVID-19 lives. After all, if were extra careful before the pandemic, how much more so now?

For many of us, a risk-averse quarantine life is simply an exaggerated continuation of our pre-COVID-19 lives.


What is fascinating, however, is that there’s an aspect of human nature that directly contradicts our safety obsession —the adrenaline rush of seeking excitement.

According to a report in Psychology Today, “Sensation-seeking, also called thrill-seeking or excitement-seeking, is the tendency to pursue new and different sensations, feelings, and experiences. The trait describes people who chase novel, complex, and intense sensations, who love experience for its own sake, and who may take risks to pursue those experiences.”

This risk-taking gene, according to the report, has been crucial to our evolution: “Risk-taking has value and serves an important evolutionary purpose. Without the courage to advance into unknown, potentially dangerous territory, human beings may not have found new mates, populated the globe, or flourished as a species.”

In other words, it’s wonderful to take precautions and avoid danger, but if we take it too far, we may erode the very gene that triggers new ideas and experiences and helps us grow. Our safety gene plays to our fears; our risk gene plays to our ambitions.

Especially now when a virus is threatening our bodies, we also have a tendency to see risks as mostly physical. But we can also take intellectual and creative risks that are no less important to our progress and well-being. 

We can also take intellectual and creative risks that are no less important to our progress and well-being.


Do we risk reading things we disagree with? Do we risk trying something we’ve never done before, or checking out voices in our community we’ve never heard before? Do we risk listening more closely to those we love? Do we risk learning a new skill, or finding creative ways to help those in need?

Those risks may be the best part of being human, and for most of them, you don’t even have to leave home.

Shabbat shalom.

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Giving Season

One Form of Giving: Spreading Kindness

“It started as a spreadsheet, a very basic spreadsheet,” Elana Sichel, a recent graduate of University of Maryland says. She and Hadassah Raskas, a U Penn rising senior, are the co-founders of Corona Connects, an initiative that pairs volunteers with organizations needing the extra hands during this chaotic time of living through the Coronavirus pandemic. The idea originated in a strong desire to be of service, stemming from their observant upbringing. Raskas explains, “I think it really was our Jewish values that really created this thing inside of us…it’s so deeply ingrained.”

Pandemic Has Altered The Rules of Fundraising

This article originally appeared in The New York Jewish Week The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is massive, costing hundreds of thousands of lives and...

New Plan for Giving That Will Secure Jewish Future

This article originally appeared in ejewishphilanthropy.com. Last year, at the urging of Mark Silberman, a longtime friend, Jewish Future Pledge Board Chair and former Board...

Latest Articles

Past Tensions Between Biden, Erdoğan Cast Shadow Over Ankara-Washington Relations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is bracing for a stormy four years.

How Yeshiva Prepared Me To Excel in Secular Education

As a former yeshiva student, it’s challenging balancing higher education, a high-tech career and a significant emphasis on Torah study.

Theology of Thanksgiving: Whom Shall We Thank?

We must give up either Divine power or Divine goodness.

Will the Pandemic Trigger the Next Jewish Revolution?

As we experience an unprecedented global pandemic, more Jews than at any other time in history are being exposed to Jewish platforms of culture,...

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parsha Vayetze with Tzvia Rubens

Tzvia Rubens, of Hebrew Union in Ohio, is our guest this week, and we discuss Parshat Vayetze which begins when Jacob leaves Canaan and journeys to Charan. On...

The Lucas Project: How You Can Help Boys with ALD

Lucas' Story When Lucas was 3 months old we were notified that he tested...

This Thanksgiving, I’m Grateful to Councilmember David E. Ryu

I dedicate this column to thanking Councilmember David Ryu of Los Angeles’s fourth district.

A Time to Redefine Thanksgiving and A Time to Reclaim It

A year ago, we were in a dilemma about what to do with too much and too many. This year, our dilemma is what to do, period.

Georgia On My Mind

Why has Biden not gone again to Georgia?

Satirical Semite: Learning to Be English

After 10 years of living in Los Angeles, I must now relearn how to be English.

Culture

Breathing New Life Into A Thanksgiving Pumpkin Tradition

Why stick with the ordinary pumpkin when you can accessorize into a whole line of winter squashes with far more panache?

MOTs Score Grammy Nominations

This year’s nominees include several Members of the Tribe, including Jerry Seinfeld, Tiffany Haddish, Rachel Maddow and Spike Jonze, in categories that reflect their particular talents.

Donations of Appreciated Stock Unlock Charitable Currency, Bring Fulfillment

A few years ago, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) ran an advertisement with an attention-grabbing headline: To open a charitable...

Giving Thanks for the Yummiest Holiday Ever

Little 7 year old me arrived in Los Angeles from Casablanca one week before Halloween. My uncle took me to get a costume and...

An Unconventional Holiday Season

Last Passover, my mom, my sister and I sat at our kitchen table and ate thick slices of New York pizza. “We are bad Jews,”...

Latest Articles
Latest

Past Tensions Between Biden, Erdoğan Cast Shadow Over Ankara-Washington Relations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is bracing for a stormy four years.

How Yeshiva Prepared Me To Excel in Secular Education

As a former yeshiva student, it’s challenging balancing higher education, a high-tech career and a significant emphasis on Torah study.

Theology of Thanksgiving: Whom Shall We Thank?

We must give up either Divine power or Divine goodness.

Will the Pandemic Trigger the Next Jewish Revolution?

As we experience an unprecedented global pandemic, more Jews than at any other time in history are being exposed to Jewish platforms of culture,...

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parsha Vayetze with Tzvia Rubens

Tzvia Rubens, of Hebrew Union in Ohio, is our guest this week, and we discuss Parshat Vayetze which begins when Jacob leaves Canaan and journeys to Charan. On...

Hollywood

‘Oslo’ Drama Underway from Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt

Steven Spielberg, Mark Platt and David Litvak are bringing the J.T. Rogers’ Tony Award-winning play “Oslo,” about the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Peace Accords, to HBO....

‘Valley of Tears’ Tells Harrowing Stories of the 1973 Yom Kippur War

As Yom Kippur began in 1973, attacks by Syria and Egypt took Israel by surprise, launching a 19-day war in which more than 10,000...

Sophia Loren Plays a Holocaust Survivor in ‘The Life Ahead’

In her first feature film since “Nine” in 2009, screen legend Sophia Loren plays a Holocaust survivor who takes in motherless children in “The...

Podcasts

David L. Graizbord: The New Zionists

Shmuel Rosner and David L. Graizbord discuss his new book, The New Zionists: Young American Jews, Jewish National Identity, and Israel. David Graizbord is an...

Pandemic Times Episode 107: Some deep reflections before Thanksgiving

New David Suissa Podcast Every Tuesday and Friday. A conversation with Danielle Ames Spivak, CEO of American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic. How do we manage...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

x