SECURITY: the feeling that all is under control and I am safe

new securityLinus, the little kid in the Peanuts cartoon, is connected at the hip to his security blanket. That is to say, Linus believes he cannot exist without having his “blankee” safe in hand. He drags it everywhere he goes,and when it’s among the missing, he deteriorates to being a little kid without an identity.

Security is like that. It’s a sense of being real. One feels secure when all is right in the world. The sun is shining, there’s money in your pocket, and the snow will melt in just a week or two. Spring will come again.

But on a more serious side, security is the knowledge that bad things are far away and that you are not in danger. That’s the way in which security is generalized, not individualized. Nations raise military forces to provide security for millions of people. Police forces are formed to provide security for communities. Neighborhood watches take shape to patrol the homes of friends to be sure they are safe from those bogeymen “out there.” People install “security systems” in their homes to inform them when there’s a fire, radon gasses, the furnace has gone out,…and…when someone is trying to break in to steal something or do something bad to them.

The truth is that Linus’ blanket will not keep him safe. Armies, police departments, neighborhood watches and security systems will not necessarily keep us safe either. They will do their best, and … all things being equal…our nation, city, neighborhood and home will never know a tragedy at someone else’s hands. But there’s no fool-proof guarantee that everything will always be all right.

Security actually dwells inside one’s person. It has to do with being comfortable about living in a state of ambiguity. That means that there is no certainty. That’s not all bad. Certainty tells us that we don’t have to be vigilant or involved. It’s all decided and formed, and we can just lay back and ignore the possibilities. In fact, there are none. It’s all certain. That’s not a good place to be.

Ambiguity forces us to stay alert. It takes seriously that we are intelligent, capable, and engaged. When we are not flummoxed by discovering that we live in an ambiguous state. That is what we know as security. Knowing that we are surrounded by well-meaning people who do their very best to protect us is part of security. Having faith in them is another part. And also knowing that we are (individually and communally) capable of making choices which protect us. And…knowing that there are no guarantees in life, without obsessing on them.

Image Credit: Tripwire

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