This past year has seen an increase of in the use of the ‘safe space,’ the notion that people can be within a certain zone and be free of negativity, challenges, and discrimination. I must confess, I don’t understand it. Whether it’s because I live in a different culture, am engaged with a different worldview, or simply think differently, I don’t know. What I do know is that this idea of a safe space lacks rational meaning to me. Its boundaries are invisible, it’s concepts are unenforceable, and its limits (rules) are limitless. I understand the need to be respectful; I understand the need to stop discrimination; however, the very idea of a ‘safe space’ seems to act contrary to those objectives, so again I say, “I don’t understand it.” In truth, what is being accomplished is quite opposite of the stated goals, making the ‘safe space’ the unsafest place to be.
A safe space supposedly is to protect others from intolerance and prejudice. Again, I get that and in theory that may be true, yet these supposed safe places have gone further. Their rules and regulations are constantly being added to (hence their limits are limitless) and the result is something that protects them more from differing opinions and convictions, thus avoiding any form of confrontation by limiting discussion points. Such an attitude does three things:
- It Denies the Gospel: First, such an attitude tries to minimize, if not outright deny, that none of us is perfect. Each of us has a great need to be transformed into someone better. At the most fundamental level, each of these is addressed by the gospel message. To deny the necessity is to deny its fix.
- It Denies the Truth: A denial of the gospel automatically implies a denial of Scripture and of truth. However, this point can be developed further when we consider more. Limiting certain viewpoints that one may find disagreeable denies that God created people with different personalities, ideas, and influenced by the same sin (and that creates automatic disagreement).
- It Denies the Improvement: Finally, it seems that most recognize that the limitations imposed by the safe spaces, but they are significant enough that they are worthy of repeating. The setup of these spaces restricts growth because one doesn’t learn to exchange ideas. Neither is one challenged to defend his or her stance and therefore never knows why he or she believes they do.
While wanting to limit the injustices of discrimination is a good thing, the result of what we now have is stunting the growth of our society.
From this discussion I have not even indicated the dire consequences, this has upon Christians and the application of Christian theology. That in itself is another conversation, one that I hope though, is obviously made based upon the implications above. However, before a discussion can be had about those implications, the greater issues must be recognized first and that greater issue is this: the safe space is becoming the most dangerous space.
Photo “Beach Huts” courtesy of user AnneJ19 and Flickr.