Home security: Unexciting? (1965)

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The meaning of security

Dear reader,

It sometimes seems to us that we have all become so concerned with something we call “security” that we have lost or at least are losing much of the pleasure and excitement of here-and-now living.

We note, for example, that a great many young people graduating from college are more concerned with joining a corporation that offers a superior pension plan than they are with the degree of satisfaction they will get out of their life’s work before they eventually reach retirement age. Just what does one do with those 40 or 45 years in between? Just how much excitement and pleasure can you get out of life if your primary concern is the ending before you’ve ever begun?

It is not, of course, just the young who seem to be preoccupied with security these days. Others of us are equally guilty. When we start looking for a community in which to live we may be intrigued with the idea of moving into an area where there are families with different interests, different income levels, and perhaps even different points of view. But, rather than take a chance of getting into the unknown we usually settle in a neighborhood where we will be surrounded by people more or less like ourselves. It may not be a very exciting environment; it may be rather dull, but it is secure and, therefore, reassuring.

When we are about to buy or build a house, we may spend a little time in dreaming about the house that is modern, exciting, perhaps even breathtaking, but we quickly shut these dreams out and play it safe, building a nice, dull, nondescript house that can always be resold, hopefully at a profit, to someone else who is equally concerned with security and is looking for a nice, dull, nondescript house. And so on, ad infinitum.

When it comes to furnishing and decorating our houses, we may toy with the idea of this time really expressing some of our own ideas, but, too often, timidity prevails again and we remember that if we allow our houses to be too “different” we may be giving something about ourselves away, so we play it safe again and settle for the “nicer” the “neutral,” and the, too frequently, mediocre.

There is, I am convinced, in each of us the urge to be adventuresome, to be ourselves, to taste some of the excitement and wonder of life before we depart the scene, but oddly, in a land where “difference” was once a virtue, it is now almost a sin. We seem to be more afraid of censure than of soaring.

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The world, to be sure, is an uncertain place, but we might as well face the fact that the only real security is that which we find within ourselves. This kind of security can be achieved only by having the courage to face ourselves, to understand ourselves and to be ourselves.

One must, of course, be prudent at times; one must take certain steps to plan for the future, but we should never lose sight of the fact that what we do today is that which we are going to look back on when we finally do retire from active participation in life-and say, “Well, it was exciting, it was vital. I was alive.”

That is a reward in itself.

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