Self-preservation is said to be high on the list of instinctive survival mechanisms – that which society cannot “un-learn” because of the inherent nature of such evolutionary entrenchment of DNA-coded characteristics. It used to be that, whether in the mythical “State of Nature” as advanced and envisioned by Locke, Hobbes or Rousseau, or the more fossil-based models as posited by anthropologists, the individual who was widely considered as a precarious survivor was quickly extinguished from the gene pool either though acts of foolish daring or by neglectful carelessness.
Survival was, until recent times, always high on the list of priorities.
In modernity, we rarely even consider it, and that is why we cringe with disbelief at horror stories of sitting placidly in a café or restaurant when suddenly innocent bystanders are being shot at, or become the victims of an explosion where shrapnel and other ravaging debris aim at the human flesh – not for predatory hunger, but for mere destruction and devastation. Laws become enacted and govern safety; mechanisms are put in place to prevent industrial accidents or massive catastrophes impacting a wide swath of population centers; these are all, in modernity, for the most part, avoided and of rare occurrence.
Thus, the precarious self has become an irrelevant concern, or not at all. The incommensurate dilemma of an individual being lost in his or her own thoughts as he walks upon a den of wolves out to find and devour dinner, is not of a major concern; perhaps, the closest we may come to in considering the precarious self is of a person lost in thought who crosses the street without looking for oncoming traffic; but, even that, the new technology arming every vehicle with sensors which automatically prompts the braking systems are attending to that potentiality, as well.
It is, in the end, more in the arena of making mistakes, proceeding in ignorance and creating circumstances of irreconcilable self-destructiveness, that the concept even becomes applicable or comprehensible, in these days. For example, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application by a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker, does the Federal employee or Postal worker know enough about “The Laws” governing Federal Disability Retirement in order to proceed successfully? Have you spent enough time to familiarize yourself with the statute, the case-law and precedents of recent import in order to successfully maneuver your way through the administrative process?
This is, whether one likes it or not, a highly bureaucratized universe, and the ability to avoid the precarious self often requires a great amount of investment of one’s time, energy and concentrated focus upon the details of daily, unavoidable complexities. Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee falls under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is something that requires avoidance of the precarious self, at a minimum; and, more than that, to maneuver around the precarious “others” as well – including the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire