Sunday, November 25, 2018

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, November 24, 2018 - Security is an Illusion, But It’s Okay

        Many years ago I read a book by Helen Keller in which she describes her theology of risk. “Security is mostly a superstition,” she wrote. In an already dangerous world, her’s was even more so for being blind as well as deaf. And yet her courage shone through. She made it look easy.
My own daughter Lavender is blind. Several years before she became part of our family she was a member of an afterschool music program I founded called the Tribe. One day, the kids were on a break from rehearsing by taking turns rolling down a big grassy hill out behind the music room. Lavender wanted to roll down the hill, too.
It then occurred to me just how courageous one must be when they cannot see the world which threatens them. Her courage was demonstrated in the completely carefree manner she simply threw herself off the top edge of the hill, rolling at full speed into the unknown. No knowledge of how big the hill was. No knowledge if there were any obstacles—trees, people, or otherwise. I was far more nervous for her than she for herself. That was my first indication that fearlessness can be a virtue, if not an outright acknowledgment that Helen Keller was absolutely correct.
My cousin Kirsten, who lives in the Los Angeles area, never locks her car. She's never been robbed either. One could say that she has remained safe in spite of her policy against locking her car, not because of it. But I don’t agree. When I lived in New York City I almost never locked my apartment. In fact, the only times I’ve ever been broken into were occasions when my home or vehicle were securely locked. Those locks didn’t keep me safer. Even if they made me feel so.
Today, I lock my home and car quite simply. It’s when I have to perform a series of elaborate functions in order to “protect” my possessions that I tend to believe I am sending out more protective energy than helpful. To my way of thinking, it just perks up the antennae of those-about-to-steal. Kirsten and I think exactly alike in this regard.
        Statistics show that most forms of security are not at all functional in the way we imagine them. They are merely there for the emotional comfort we extract from their presence. They make us feel safer, but don’t really do much. A practice called “security theater” is a concept in active use throughout our so-called safest places. The TSA at airports who pat you down for hidden explosives and search for concealed weapons using x-ray technology to reveal us in our underwear, are an example of security theatre. The TSA has never actually stopped a terrorist. It’s all of the other behind-the-scenes policing and security efforts which actually prevent most attempted attacks. Not the TSA. But because they are patting us down and scanning our luggage we feel safer. And of course it is bound to deter some would-be terrorists from planning an attack. The ruse works on them, too.
It’s fair to say that if someone truly wishes to kill us, they have plenty of methods and opportunities to do so. And if somebody truly wants to break into our homes or cars, there are dozens of ways to accomplish it, locks, guns, and alarms notwithstanding. There is virtually nothing we can do to protect ourselves from someone who genuinely wishes to cause harm. As tough a pill as that is to swallow, swallow it we must.
The fact is, the only security we have in this world is owed to the fact that the vast majority of humans are actually decent people. This world is populated mostly by those who believe in and practice, whether consciously or subconsciously, the golden rule of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
It may not always look like those around us are decent. For we do see theft and murder and destruction everywhere. But they are in the extreme mathematical minority by comparison. They do not represent the common experience. In this world, believe it or not, violence and theft are a social anomaly. They are not natural to us. If they were, it would be the norm. But they are not. Thankfully, too, because we would have already long destroyed ourselves if humanity were equal to the depth of our perceived security needs. Yet no police force could ever stay ahead of it if that were the case.
The lesson here is to be at peace, not poised to protect. That’s not to say you shouldn’t lock your home, but evaluate how much fear and effort you put into creating for yourself the illusion of security. Make it simpler for yourself. Strike a balance. Recognize that the vast majority of people are decent and loving. Then let go of your fear of them. It is preventing you from the experience of your own inherent fearlessness

1 comment: