Autonomy or Safety


Autonomy or safety, do we have to choose one or the other? I am not really sure there is always a correlation between autonomy and safety but sometimes I think they rest on opposite ends of a spectrum.

Autonomy as I think about it involves self-governing and there are risks that come with self-governing, particularly, failure. Autonomy, in its extreme form, does not include a backup and when failure happens, as it always does, we have to self govern that part also, it’s on us. Of course I think there is an alternative version, smart autonomy, which I think is best left for a later discussion.

So on one end is autonomy and safety rest on the other end. Thinking about it my first thoughts about autonomy often come from my childhood. I believe we were raised as some of the first “free range” kids. We were given a lot freedom/autonomy, as I remember it, and of course this involved self-governing, risk taking, falling down (literally and figuratively) and in the process we were not as safe as we could have been if we were not permitted that “free range” kid level of autonomy. I am grateful and I believe that free ranging made me into the person I am today, dents and all.

I suppose what I am saying is that autonomy is not safe, its scary, its risky, its exciting, and when you exercise it you are going to fail, and that is a part of the whole process of learning and developing that happens to us as people when have autonomy. Its only now that I am really starting to understand the value of autonomy in my own life and when faced with a choice of autonomy or safety I choose autonomy.

 Image above retrieved from


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