Urban Survival And The Lottery

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Pablo Edronkin

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Despite that it might appear unlikely at first, our daily life and our long term survival seem like a lottery.

How far from you does a train crosses a road while you wait to pass? How far from you are those cars that rush along the street as you wait for the green light to walk to the other side? What would happen if the wiring system that is over almost any street in the world falls down and collapses? Wopuld you be able to escape? In other words... What are you true odds of suffering a petty accident that could end up in a very serious situation that may put even your survival at risk?

We have grown so accustomed to the life in towns and cities that we seldom consider what are actually the odds against us when confronted with different kinds of every day situations; risks and hazards are unfortunately higher than what most would believe and the irony is that cities and towns evolved in ancient times as a solution to a set of different but equally significant survival woes, to gain in safety terms and to protect ourselves against the action of nature, a force that if we can barely understand today certainly appeared as fearsome to our distant ancestors.

We should ask ourselves whether life in a city still provides us with those advantages… In order to keep them! Because when people first went into Hassuna, Kish and other first-generation, neolithic towns tose advantages were clear, but now distinctions have become somewhat blurred: Instead of barbarian hordes from the mountains that killed your sheep you have thieves and rapists, contamination replaced famine and plague, and instead of being eaten by a giant feline you could be killed by a speeding car, a train or a can full of paint falling from a builidng, not to mention the dreaded piano or couch; outside towns and ciites, those dangers become almost nonexistent.

At least we should keep such dangers in mind because it is the only way to solve such problems. Assuming that life is better downtown may not necessarily be true anymore and teaching this notion at school should be the norm, but it isn´t because in our quest for apparent, short-term comfort, like in the case of outdoor and wilderness survival, we might just miss the opportunity to improve our situation.

There is no need to exaggerate the dangers inherent to urban centres but life still continue to be a true lottery for us: In the past our ancestors had to escape from predators while now people go to live outside the city to escape from what we invented to escape from those animals.

More dangerous than the jungle?
More dangerous than the jungle?

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