Security concerns increase with social instability in the world around us. Our safety and well-being will ultimately depend, as I observed in the previous post, upon the stability and trustworthiness of the conditions we put in place around us.
Stability and security are mutually reinforcing, but without stability any effort to increase security is futile. Stability makes our efforts to create security possible, and it benefits from those efforts.
It is natural to think that security must come first, but actually it is the other way around. The key to security is effective community and the value of our personal investment in each other.
The first priority for any stable community is the strength of interpersonal relationships. These form the basis for trust, for good communication and effective problem-solving.
Dependable community depends on dependable relationships.
Americans are used to thinking of security as the responsibility of trained professionals who are expected to deal with emergency situations. That is because we have been accustomed to stable institutions and dependable systems.
This may not always be true. Things we have taken for granted in the past may become emergency concerns – if we are not prepared for them.
Food security is an important example. Supermarkets typically limit their distribution centers to a three-day supply. If the supply chain is disrupted and their vendors are unable to deliver, we are in trouble.
Unless we use our imaginations, the interruption of systems we take for granted will catch us off guard. A systemic disruption could be caused by an Ebola-type epidemic, a cyber-attack on the banking system or national grid, a global monetary crisis, or any number of other reasons.
These are not unreasonable possibilities.
In my view, we would do well to think about the implications – from public health threats and emergency medicine to the need for a cash economy. Building dependable networks of support among neighboring communities will also be important.
Knowing how to work effectively in groups will be key. This will mean developing personal skills. Group decision-making and resolving interpersonal conflicts need not be traumatic ordeals, if we have acquired the necessary skills.
We are quite capable of preparing ourselves if we remain purposeful and ready to learn. In the coming months I will discuss additional challenges we are likely to face, and tools to address them.
I have written of the importance of such virtues as trustworthiness, dependability, and responsibility. I expect these make sense to you. But, I have also introduced an idea that might seem novel, which I call “constructive action.” And, last week I argued that stability is not possible without forward motion.
Why are motion and constructive action indispensable to our endeavors?
Think of it this way: Keeping our balance while riding a bicycle requires forward motion. In any community, business, or organization, activity guided by a sense of purpose serves a similar function. No social group can sustain coherence or affectionate ties unsupported by vision and purpose.
We will face two important areas of consideration as we consolidate our communities: What we do and how we do it. The concept of constructive action concerns the latter – the way we can work together effectively.
This has a direct bearing on security. To put it simply, constructive action is about being constructive rather than destructive, building rather than tearing down, freeing rather than oppressing.
A constructive approach requires a positive attitude and will contribute to improved safety and well-being. Destructive actions and a negative attitude will set us back, the results of emotional reaction rather than rational purposefulness.
One leads toward the ends we seek; the other pushes us farther away.
Shared purpose is a lens through which the challenges of necessity can be brought into focus and the efforts of diverse personalities can be coordinated. Shared purpose provides a standard by which a community can judge priorities and progress.
With sufficient willpower and discipline, each of us can develop our skills and learn how to do this. And, a positive attitude will support rational thinking and a constructive way forward.
Next week: Hard realities, practical necessities
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