I am sitting in a café and spot a girl with Rosetti hair. Can I take a portrait of you, I ask. Not make, take — since this is not about painting but photography.
She gives me her email address. I write to her and send some photos.
After a week or so I get a reply, very polite and cultured (she is neither Hungarian nor Swedish, sorry to have to write that), saying that she is open to being photographed but… “you must understand that stranger danger has been running in my head like a mantra all through my childhood”.
Never heard that phrase before, but Google gives me 397.000 hits for “stranger danger”.
I know why I have “missed” it. And why I don’t miss it. It feels very correct for me not to know this saying, since I actively try not to mistrust and fear strangers, and life.
I write back to her, saying I understand her worry and suggest a couple of places where we could meet, open, well-lighted, not at all shade places.
After that, I don’t hear anything from her again.
This universal fear of The Stranger… is not universal, but very common.
The worst part of it is that Big Mother (the up-to-date, softened, feminized version of Big Brother) very actively encourages this fear, by stressing our need for security. Everywhere we turn, we are told that we should stay safe, shown all the measures (surveillance cameras, etc.) taken for OUR security. Beside Big Pharma and other biggies stand Big Security.
These measures are not for OUR security but rather spying tools for the security of Big Mother, who is herself TERRIBLY insecure. Unless she knows what we, her citizens, her subjects, are doing she cannot sleep at night.
So in her typically sneaky way she is trying to assure her own safety by making us fear for ours. Big Mother is a primitive creature, inspiring us all to be just as primitive: careful (full of care), fearsome and paranoid.
Being careful can be wise. Fearsome is not necessary, if you are a careful in a sane way. Paranoia is optional, and very popular.
Stranger danger! Women should (and do) fear men. Men should not (but do) fear women. No, not being raped but being rejected and snubbed.
“Living dangerously” is a nice-sounding phrase, but its meaning has shrunk. Nowadays the danger we are prepared to face are perhaps being without our smartphone for a day, maybe even two. Remember how it worked in the old days? “ring-ring” and “Hello?”. You had no idea who was calling you before the era of Caller ID. Today you are living dangerously if you just say “hello?” without looking at the screen to see who’s calling. That’s modern courage.
Of course it shouldn’t be called living dangerously but living fearfully.