Safe Spaces In The Modern Age

Lately, I’ve heard a lot about “Safe Spaces” in the news. Universities are establishing Safe Spaces” for their students. Their students, apparently, think they have the right to be protected from all things that might impinge upon their views and make them feel uncomfortable. If anything makes them uncomfortable and violates their “Safe Space,” they say that they feel “triggered.” And being “triggered” is bad. Of course, it is usually the conservative viewpoint that is the source of this “triggering” and violation of a “Safe Space,” so their answer is to shut down the free speech of conservatives on their campus.

I used to think, with little reflection on my part, all the “Safe Space” stuff and talk of “triggers” was silly and stupid.

Then, recently, I ran across it in its proper place. As readers of this blog know, I’m … okay, I’m totally insane. I believe I’m the antichrist, etc… etc… As a result, I see a psychiatrist. I also recently started attending a group meeting for individuals suffering from mental illness: basically, group therapy, almost—lacking only the therapist. It was at the latter that I first heard people talking about “Safe Spaces” and “Triggers” in a venue that makes sense. A distinction must be made between a university and a therapy session. The therapy session (and the close approximation which I attend) is, and deserves to be, a Safe Space. Confidentiality is maintained. Deeply personal issues are discussed and dealt with. Emotional arguments are avoided. And that’s all great and fine … for a therapy session. Not a lecture, or a talk, or any kind of presentation, especially at a university which is supposed to be a bastion of free speech and the free exchange of ideas.

There are other “Safe Spaces” which I feel obliged to mention. First, there’s the psychiatrist appointment. I’ve had plenty of those. What gets discussed there, stays there. And I’m not going to confuse a psychiatric appointment with a college lecture.

Here’s another “Safe Space” which I think many people have forgotten about: The Confessional. This is a Catholic Sacrament (I don’t know if any other religions have this or anything like it). Here, the Christian can find absolution for their sins. They can talk about anything they are feeling guilty about under the Seal of the Confessional, so that confidentiality is maintained. Yes, Jesus of Nazareth instituted the first “Safe Space” two thousand years ago, in a proper venue long before any psychologist or psychiatrist existed, let alone thought it up. (Yeah, Jesus!)

And one of the hallmarks of Jesus’ “Safe Space” is privacy. What is discussed therein is between the priest, the sinner, and God. It is not regurgitated for everyone else. It is held separate and distinct from the rest of your life. You find forgiveness and move on. And you don’t expect others to barge in on your Confession; it doesn’t belong in the public sphere where the free exchange of ideas should reign.

Those are the only “Safe Spaces” I can think of: Therapy Sessions, Group Therapy, Psychiatric Appointments, and The Sacrament of Confession. There may be a few others, but probably not many. The point is, they are separate from the rest of your life, they are like escape valves for emotional pressure. They are beneficial and good, but it is unrealistic to expect the rest of your life to operate under the same rules as these.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for this post.


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