It’s just struck me. Our off-balance craving for security is a symptom, an intensifier of our hunger after power. Does this hold true for any sense of security?
All our thoughts and feelings, our very perceptions, their focus and their blind-spots, are interpenetrated by our conditioning. We cannot escape illusion. We can only shift how we respond to our current conditioning. Put pressure towards shifting our illusions from patently delusional ruts towards a path that finds traction with our organism. This brings a sense of freedom from futility. We are able to engage more directly with aspects of our situation that are simply not handled by our present conditioning. It is a question of finding focus, building fresh habits, to respond to a wider range of perspectives. To move our focus away from the dysfunctional, so that, with some luck, this may lead us to greater effectiveness.
Effectiveness. A good entry into the subject of security. To distinguish effectiveness from efficiency – one more time! it is a question of perspective and breadth of view. Efficiency is the result of tossing out everything but the immediate goal at hand and finding ruthless ways to focus power on that point. Its appeal rises out of a condition of urgency. The pressing need to find a way for power to solve problems. Effectiveness has a broader foundation. It requires us not only to consider the follies of efficiency and eschew the seductions of power. It asks us to consider that our self-preservation is not an ultimate justification for urgency. Justifying all that cascades from its demands.
To be effective requires us to put our selves “on the table.”
How does this differ from the ruthlessness of a fanatic?
We are surrounded by fanaticism on all sides. Our greatest threats are from fanatics. Those with enormous reservoirs of power at their disposal who hold all of life as their hostages. Minor splinter-groups, who would like to replace the current hegemony with one cast in their favorite flavor. These opposing forces lead to an escalation of self-righteousness on all sides. This eggs us all on to embrace one form of right over another. None of these factions or forces has any interest in us as anything but a means to their ends. None of them ever consider their own long-term best interests as they persist in pursuing their quest right off the cliff. Happy to fulfill visions of their particular form of martyrdom. This is ruthlessness. There is no empathy or sense of compassion that will stay their hands.
To be effective, we rule out any means-to-an-end calculation as patently false. All are the result of chasing the demands of Ego to dominate at any cost.
When effectiveness asks us to consider our self-preservation as a variable, it is from a very different direction. It is from an empathic awareness that for life to continue there must be death. There is no escape possible nor is the extreme effort to find one useful. These pursuits, beginning with the era of the great tomb builders seeking immortality at the cost of enslaving their/our world, have been at the center of efforts now ready to trade in extinction. The truly final form of mega-death, rather than consider relinquishing their dream.
This is the background for our discussion of security. We have left common assumptions of its meaning far behind. Is this something we can “live with?”
As living organisms, is it necessary that we have, at some level, a requirement of comfort in self-preservation?
Or, is this a part of our conditioning that might be redirected?
Does the process of an expanding awareness of empathy and compassion actually do away with this hunger?
It is impossible to tell, from this side of any such change, whether this is true. This would appear to fall squarely into the category of changes that form a tipping point. Such places are hidden from us. Their contours opaque until we reach them. It could be said this is like death itself. As Epicurus said, “When I am here, she is not. When I am not, she must be.“
This risks entering the realm of transcendence. I’ve been steering clear of relying on a need for transcendence, seeing it as another form of the trap of salvation. The language of use and effectiveness seems more direct.
So, if we stay this side of discussing the unknowable, then what we are getting to is the question of security as either a necessity for sanity or as a delusion that always leads us into striving after power.
This begins to get interesting!
For much of the way our situation doesn’t call for us to actively consider disregarding self-preservation. Seeing through the delusions around security, the way all power-based mechanisms, established to “ensure” our survival, actually erode our chances. We feel a growing assurance that we are more secure the more we focus on ways that side-step this trap. For much of the journey, self-preservation and effective security are allied. This may be enough, especially as we gain strength within ourselves and lose our sensitivity to the hair-triggers of anxiety surrounding questions of security as they play out now.
Remember that outside of critical moments when we are actually under attack, our sense of our security is an untestable illusion. Not a demonstrable fact. We can only talk about how we organize our lives around a sense of security. We are unable to say anything meaningful concerning a verifiable state of security. Or, how it will change. We cannot know what factors are actual risks. Whether these risks will effect us before we succumb to some other force. These considerations relate to our individual security. Security of an us opposed to an other. The self-induced, and aggravated threats to all that our chasing after security impose on us today are the result of threats that would be seen as obvious dangers if they weren’t so damn inconvenient to our “common sense.”
Security, our sense of security, is none-the-less extremely important. As we can see today when life is organized around a certain set of branded risks that earn a vast profit for a few at the cost of us all, our sense of security, as illusory as it may be, has very real effects. Figuring out how to put our sense of security into perspective is now, as it has always been, an existential question. No way forward can ignore this dynamic and how it might evolve.
Understanding the distinction between a feeling and demonstrable physical reality is a recurring question. It effects all of our actions. How we come to the judgments we make. The question of our sense of security, and the underlying anxiety beneath our sense of its insufficiency, are at the heart of our striving after urgency. Then on through fear, anger, righteous self-justification, and the pursuit of power. Unless we can distinguish between what we desire, a desire that easily escalates to a demand for immortality; and what we require, concerning generating a sense of sufficiency of security, in full knowledge of the illusory nature of all of our sensations of existence; we cannot break the cycle , stop falling into the same traps over and over again.
As with so much else, but probably at the base of all of our other demands as well, there is this sense that we never can have enough security. That any bargain with power is worth it. As with so much else, we need to find a way to experience a sense of enough, understand that expecting more will only get us less.