I feel very safe while at home on a calm day sipping a cup of coffee, with my feet resting on an ottoman, while contemplating the boyfriend napping on the sofa. That’s the easy answer to my friend Jorge’s inquiry about personal safety.
I’m thankful to be able to live in a cozy little house in a quiet neighborhood peopled with likable neighbors. I like to associate with friends who enjoy dropping over to spend quality time discussing philosophy and the arts and who are comfortable enough to share many quiet minutes in meditation.
I don’t take this safe haven for granted. Most of the world’s population does not have access to this level of safety. Many people can only dream of having reasonable levels of feeling safe. I think being safe in one’s home is a basic human right. A certain level of personal safety is necessary in order for people to think and not merely cope. People who enjoy an optimal level of safety are more engaged with enlarging their experience of life.
Jorge says he places a high value on safety because of the amount of time he spends on the road driving his employer’s semi-truck. He is glad his company employs skillful, trustworthy mechanics who are allowed to thoroughly maintain the company’s fleet. He is grateful at the end of the run to return home to a safe, stable, happy home. Having a safe place to rest allows Jorge to be a better employee. The safe place especially enhances his ability to contribute to maintaining his domestic relationship. His safety depends a great deal upon fostering mutual trust.
“Leaving southern Sudan as a child was terrifying. It was 1985, and my family and I were trying to escape to Khartoum, the capital in the North, to safety.”–Alek Wek
There are many places in the world where safety is almost non-existent. People in places like Uganda and Columbia live under the threat of invasion by hostile police forces and bands of outlaws bringing terror to the inhabitants. People seek safety by emigrating to cities or seeking asylum in countries they perceive as safer than their own. They simply wish to leave the nightmare of their daily existence. Too often, their efforts go unrewarded.
“It’s a very sobering feeling to be up in Space and realize that one’s safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.”–Alan Shepard
Is there such a state of being as too safe? This is as debatable as much as it is subjective. There appears to be a sweet spot regarding levels of safety, and that sweet spot is going to be at different mental spaces in different people in different scenarios.
Personally, when I’m overly concerned with safety, my idealism wanes and I’m more reluctant to try new things and experiment with novel ways of thinking and acting. Any over-concern about safety dulls my life with short-sightedness and fear. When working to maintain a mindful, healthy balance between safety and risk, I feel more vital and engaged with the world at large. This balance allows for some measure of adventure in life.
There is another set of ingredients regarding safety. They include a nation’s defense forces, police, fire fighting, emergency medical services and so forth. When these are reasonably maintained, they can enhance personal safety. This set of factors has much controversy surrounding it. Since social macro-security is not the subject of this short article, I’ll leave that subject for perhaps another day.
Meantime, as I write these words, the neighborhood is dark because the streetlight is malfunctioning. The wind is causing the window to rattle, and my neuropathy is acting up. So I’m not feeling optimally safe right now. That state of mind will probably change later on.