Inconvenient Truth



There are certain basic truths, and some of them are unpleasant. We often hide these facts from children until they’re old enough to handle them. For example, [Spoiler alert!] Santa Claus isn’t real, there’s no such thing as the Easter Bunny, Mom and Dad don’t know everything and, eventually, everyone dies.

But hiding from those truths doesn’t make them go away. Like gravity, they affect everyone equally regardless.

There are also some truths that, while no less real, don’t affect everyone equally. For example, smoking causes lung cancer—and other cancers, as well as emphysema, vascular disease, etc., etc. But not everyone who smokes will acquire those diseases, and not everyone who’s afflicted by them is a smoker.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try and find ways to give up smoking if you are a heavy smoker however. My best friend has been smoke free for a few years now after using vaping as a stop smoking aid. If you would like to find out more about using vaping to quit smoking, then doing some research into e-cigarettes and the various e-liquid product ranges out there such as Air Factory could help you to make your decision about whether vaping could help you to conquer your habit.

Most people will never be involved in a serious automobile accident. Wearing seat belts dramatically reduces injuries for those who are, yet some people will be killed in car crashes even though they’re buckled up

While the incidence is decreasing, many Americans still choose to smoke. Some still refuse to wear their seat belts, despite legislation criminalizing that behavior (which I’m sure gun control advocates find difficult to comprehend). In my opinion, both choices are foolish, but I believe individuals should be allowed to make their own decisions, and should bear the consequences, good and bad.

Another example of an “unequal truth” is violent crime. Most people in the U.S. will never be victims of violence. But tragically, robberies, rapes, kidnappings and murders do occur. Every day, some Americans are forced to defend themselves against vicious attacks.

Despite this unpleasant truth, many people spend their lives pretending that they are not at risk, and that they don’t need to be prepared for such events. They pretend that someone else—the government, the police, a passing superhero—will guarantee their well-being. But make no mistake: every adult is fully responsible for his or her own personal safety, and often, for the safety of their loved ones.

[Spoiler alert #2:] Superman, Spider-Man, Batman and Wonder Woman aren’t real. Even if they were, they couldn’t be everywhere all the time. Most criminals are smart enough to attack when there’s no one around to help their victims. At your moment of greatest need, it’s a virtual certainty that you’ll be all by yourself, far from help.

You can choose to pretend this isn’t true, or you can put all your eggs in the “odds are it won’t happen to me” basket. And depending on where you live, where you work, and plain dumb luck, you may never have to defend yourself. I sincerely hope you never do.

But that’s not how I choose to live my life, and it’s not what we teach our children. “Mr. Yuck” stickers, “Stranger Danger” talks in school, wearing seat belts, not smoking—these are the early habits we teach to equip them to gradually assume responsibility for insuring their own safety.

Gun safety is part of that, too. They have to learn how to safely handle a gun before they can learn to shoot. When they’re very young, knowing what to do if they happen upon an unattended firearm could save their lives, or the life of one of their friends.

Some people prefer to imagine that banning guns (or even the very mention of the word, along with menacingly nibbled pastries) will protect their children. I wonder sometimes if these are the same people who go without seat belts, in the hope that refusing to acknowledge the potential danger will somehow ward it off.

Miraculous things do happen, but usually because the people involved are prepared to meet extraordinary challenges. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger heroically saved the lives of 155 passengers and crew, and likely many more on the ground, when he safely landed a jumbo jet with two stalled engines on the Hudson River. Six minutes from takeoff to touchdown, three and a half from bird-strike to the river. It was a stunning flying achievement, and one that few Americans will ever forget.

But Sully didn’t land that plane by dumb luck. He landed it with consummate skill, honed over tens of thousands of hours flying jets and gliders. The unpleasant truth is that most attempted water landings end in disaster. But in this case, years of preparation, aided by nerves of steel, sent everyone home safely.

You can choose to ignore the unpleasant truths this world has to offer, but you do so at your own peril. Pretending that others are responsible for your safety and simply hoping for miracles is basically burying your head in the sand. If that’s how you choose to live, you’re naïve and a fool, but that’s your choice.

Just don’t expect me to share in your folly. I can handle the truth.


—Tom Vaughan, MD is a neuroradiologist in private practice in Louisville, KY. He is a shooting enthusiast who believes in individual liberty and personal responsibility.

All DRGO articles by Tom Vaughan, MD.