Risk Tolerance and the Search for Meaning

written by Michael Lerner, PhD
Vice-Chair of CHE

Reposted with permission from Michael Lerner’s blog.

Each year I come to Europe for the month of May. Work brings me here. Delight keeps me coming back, as well as curiosity about the human condition. Take personal and social risk tolerances in different cultures as an example.

Everywhere in Europe I see young people smoking cigarettes. I see people on bicycles without helmets. In Amsterdam (I was there last year, not this year), cyclists overwhelm the number of cars. They bicycle (or ride scooters and motorcycles) without helmets in the tens of thousands every day. They carry young children without helmets in bicycle baskets without a second thought.In the United States, most of would not think of smoking. Few of us would ride a bicycle without a helmet. To ride a motorcycle without a helmet seems like the height of irresponsibility. And carrying a child with no helmet in a bicycle basket on a long daily commute in heavy city traffic? We would shake our heads in disbelief.

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