In any life, security is “greatly to be desired.” Never has it been appreciated – and longed for – as much as in today’s world. The tremors of terrorism vibrate through the very foundations of our civilization; corporate and individual greed have weakened the financial structures of nations and families; and a do-it-yourself morality provides Silly-Putty definitions of right living. Is it any wonder “helicopter” parents hover over their children these days, and even adults seek out havens of relative certainty for themselves?
In earlier years, life as I remember it was rather simple, even during the aftermath of World War II. Goods and services were cheaper, streets were safer and one could cross both town and country hitch-hiking. Neighborhoods were neighborhoods; entertainments happened mostly in imaginations; careers lasted 20 or 30 years within the same profession and at the same company. Even many of the best baseball players loyally kept to the same teams back then.
Not so today. The acceleration and quantum leaps of developments in information, technology and the pace of living have made for a smaller world but also a much greater vulnerability. Not too long ago the most effective bait for selling anything was sex. Beauties in bikinis hyping Delco batteries, sump pumps?
Sex still sells; that is a forever fact. But what is selling more and more products these days is fear. Everything – from insurance (obviously) to over-the-counter drugs
and medications (remember Tylenol?), food (is it organic? Are these eggs okay?), automobiles (air bags, ignition locks, alarms) – has people demanding security.
The “home of the free and the brave” is feeling tentative in its freedoms and requires more bravery of its inhabitants every day.
There is no simple answer, if any, to all of this. But wouldn’t it help if the one place anyone could feel secure were in our own homes? Sadly, that is asking quite a bit in today’s world. Alarm systems, double-locks, sensor lighting, under-pillow handguns – everything but moats! – underline the old but still necessary meaning of “A man’s home is his castle.” To protect the sense of what it means to be a part of this world and even humanity itself, can our homes be declared terror-free zones? While governments wage war on terrorism, can “We the people” wage our own war on the terrors of drugs, handguns, abuse and violence? Thus far, it seems, raising conscious-ness, even voices, is not doing the job.
If home is where the heart is, can the voices from the heart of our nation – our homes – speak up and out more effectively? Can parents do a better job of teaching civility and responsible citizenship to their children?
Can neighborhoods find a clearer voice than “neighborhood watch” signs that city governments can hear – and heed? Taking back the night and streets can and does help; but taking care of our homes and our children has to be a far better starting place.