Time to tear off the band aid known as the human ego. Are you ready for it? Here it goes. We have all done something so stupid that every time you look back and think about it, you get chills. You shiver a little at the thought that you could ever have been absent minded enough to think the course of action taken or the words spoken were legitimate. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t. That judgement will undoubtedly come from others. It is these moments, whether committed by you or by someone else, that are the foundation for most rules, laws, regulations, policies, warnings, principles, guidelines, etc. A lot of these are created by either common sense or a common understanding that people reach to determine how best to function in society. Every now and then, a gem comes along that takes you for quite a trip.
This brings me to some of my favorite examples. The warning on the packaging for pop-tarts that basically advises you to remove the pastry from the plastic BEFORE putting it into the toaster. Tags on shirts that advises against ironing the shirt while you are wearing it. Oh, what about instructions on pizza boxes telling you to open the box before consuming the pizza? Or warning labels on coffee you get from coffee stores telling you that the coffee is hot? The list goes on, but you get where I am going with this. There is a good chance that you asked yourself at some point, “why on Earth do they need to put that on there?” You would think that the level of common sense necessary to properly enjoy these products is so basic that anyone with a basic understanding of common sense would be able to grasp the dangers involved with doing anything even remotely stupid.
Unfortunately, you would be incorrect. If there is one thing I learned in my travels, every law that exists, no matter how common sense it may seem, exists because some idiot was not in possession of the mental acuity to apply common sense at a moment where it would have counted for something. Do you, or anyone you know, really need to be told to not consume paint? I don’t recall ever having the urge to put paint in my mouth or needing to ask whether or not it was OK to eat paint but considering that some paint cans come with instructions warning against consumption, I can only assume that someone out there attempted to turn paint into a culinary delight. I can also assume, considering it is a warning label and not a suggestion, things didn’t go very well for them after.
The military is, yet again, no exception to this rule. There are just as many rules and regulations in the armed forces as there are in any other organization, that exist because someone, somewhere, at some point, had a moment where common sense decided to take a breather. In case you don’t believe me, I advise you take a brief trip back to when I spoke about reflective belts. Unfortunately, those policies exist because people continue to ignore common sense when it comes to vehicle traffic. I understand the sentiment that guides reflective belt requirements. Commanders don’t want to deal with the problems or paperwork that involve someone moron running across the street at night wearing camouflage and getting hit by a car.
I get it. I am not saying that I don’t agree with the sentiments involved with these warning labels or safety policies. These people are in positions where they are doing whatever they can to prevent the fallout that comes from the few that are too common sense deprived to navigate the social norms of everyday life safely or intelligently. The point here is that the many are continually patronized because of the few. It only takes one screw up, one accident, one mistake, one idiot, to cause changes in society that will peak the curiosity of others. I am here to answer the question that you will likely ask yourself from now, to the end of your days, every time you encounter a warning label, rule, law, instruction, etc., that makes you wonder “why on Earth is that in place. The answer is YES. Someone was dumb enough make that necessary.