Safety Vs. Comfort
Hartford neighbors have a social media site dedicated to all things positive about downtown, where I’ve lived for decades. Recently someone posted an article pointing out that when people say Hartford isn’t safe, they usually aren’t citing crime statistics. Often they are simply reacting to sensational news stories or, more likely, confusing safety with comfort.
When you encounter different languages, people who don’t look like you, or unfamiliar behavior (loud music, panhandling) you might feel very uncomfortable. However, that does not necessarily mean it’s dangerous. It might be time to re-examine your perceptions. Research has shown that stretching yourself with new experiences is generally healthy. It challenges your brain and grows new neural connections.
That’s part of why many people travel, and it’s certainly true for me. I don’t expect to like every new thing I encounter, but I try to value the experience anyway. If nothing else, I get a funny story out of it. For example, walking to the carnival parade in Montevideo, Uruguay, through dark streets lined with shuttered, graffiti-covered buildings was uncomfortable, but certainly not dangerous. Uruguay leads South America in stability of democracy, low crime and high literacy.
The parade itself was a kaleidoscope of dancers and drummers, music and costumes. Entire families were drinking the ubiquitous mate with metal straws. Costumed dancers smiled and welcomed meandering toddlers into the parade. Couples broke into dance between marching troupes of candombe drummers. The sensational experience made the discomfort worth it, and paintings will be forthcoming. Plus, as you can see here and in my current exhibit at Morneault’s StackpoleMooreTryon, I love parades!