Life and Life Jackets

A “petition” has been created to ban life jackets, because “(t)he only 100% effective way to prevent drowning is total abstinence from going in the water.” Though the creator has replaced logical argumentation with sarcasm, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re comparing life jackets to condoms.

There is a problem right on the face of that comparison. A life jacket is a *life* jacket. It preserves life. A condom preserves lifestyle. Someone who cannot tell the difference should not put themselves in a situation to require either.

Further, when a life jacket fails, you are surrounded by water and may be utterly reliant on others to protect your life. When a condom fails, not you but another person is, likewise, surrounded by water and utterly reliant on others to protect their life. In both cases, the right thing to do is clear – you save them.

“We should ban life jackets… (because) they only encourage risky behavior.” Is boating a risky behavior? Sure, there are risks, and, because there are risks, one should prepare. The boat should be stocked properly, including life jackets to keep you afloat when things go wrong. People should be there to support you, both someone on-board, ideally, and others that know where you’re going. The sea is beautiful and mysterious, though dangerous, and throughout time people have ventured out into it. And frequently, especially in the past, it has taken the life of the unprepared or unfortunate.

Childbirth and parenting, are, likewise, beautiful and mysterious though dangerous. And from the beginning, they’ve drawn people to them. Before venturing into those waters, too, we should be prepared. Ideally, there is a home well-stocked and prepared to keep you afloat physically, and a strongly Godly marriage, where you hold each other up spiritually as well. (Those are proper analogues, as life jackets prevent nothing but buoy you when the adventure has gone in an unexpected direction.) Frequently, especially in the past, childbirth has taken the life of the unprepared or unfortunate. But that is no reason to avoid venturing out — only to be sure you are properly disposed.

A life jacket is no solution for the unprepared or disrespectful. One who does not understand or respect the water should not venture out to begin with. Yet it is worth preparing and worth setting out, because that mystery and beauty is teeming with joys to discover.

Copyright 2017, Joe Wetterling

Cover image courtesy:
Petition image posted, for criticism, from: and

Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling is a professional educator, writer, and speaker. He's appeared at national and international conferences, both secular and religious. Joe teaches the Catholic faith at his blog Ho Kai Paulos, and he comments on religious themes in fantasy and science fiction at Baptized Imagination. He works as a Training Specialist, and lives in New Jersey with his wife and son. Learn more about him at

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