Monday, October 23, 2006

prudence vs. paranoia

Our former Deacon (now Priest) was in town yesterday and came to visit me in the lovely YM center building. He had been a huge hit on one of our sophomore retreats last year, and he's an absolutely great guy. Now he's at a relatively tiny parish in another state, as Parochial Vicar. He has found himself to be the Youth Minister for the parish. I asked him how it was different, in a different diocese, insofar as the "child safety" paranoia.
He said it was really different. He said things were much more relaxed, and essentially that people weren't as on-edge there as they are here. They're not lax, they follow the common-sense guidelines of keeping doors open, they CORI teachers (but not every Tom/Dick/Harry that might pass by them in the church hallway). Where he is, they are fingerprinted, digitally (no pun intended), which means no re-doing it every year because they stay on record permanently.
The way he described things, it doesn't sound like much is different, technically- except the "feel" of it. He described a place that was safe, but not completely paranoid- concerned, but not hysterically afraid all the time. It sounded wonderful.
I keep waiting for things to calm down here, to return to a place of normalcy, for reason and logic to come back into the world around me. But it just seems to get worse and worse- more fear, more paranoia, more "the lawyers say"...
I believe in prudence, but I also believe that paranoia does more damage than good.

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