The deterioration of social order taking place around us raises increasing concerns about security in our local communities. Growing instability is impacting businesses and institutions as well as individuals and families.
As I observed in the previous post, our safety and well-being will ultimately depend on the stability and dependability 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 investments 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 emergencies. 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 could become major concerns – if we are not prepared for them.
Food security is a good 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 can imagine what’s coming, the interruption of systems we take for granted will catch us off guard. A systemic disruption could be caused by a cyber-attack on the banking system or national grid, a global monetary crisis, an Ebola-type epidemic, or any number of other threats.
These are not unreasonable possibilities.
In my view, we would do well to think about the implications – from public health defenses and emergency medicine to the need for a cash economy. Building dependable networks of support among neighboring communities will also be wise.
Learning how to work effectively in groups will be key to ensuring dependable conditions. This calls for new personal skills. Group decision-making and resolving interpersonal conflicts need not be traumatic ordeals, if we have acquired the necessary tools.
We are quite capable of preparing ourselves if we are ready to learn.
I have written of the importance of such virtues as trustworthiness, dependability, and responsibility. These probably make sense to you. But, I have also introduced concepts that might be unfamiliar, including what I call “constructive action”, and the idea that stability is not possible without forward motion.
Why are constructive action and forward motion so indispensable?
Think of it this way: Keeping ones’ balance while riding a bicycle requires forward motion. In any community, business, or organization, activity guided by purpose serves a similar function. No social group can sustain coherence or mutual respect without applying itself to a common purpose.
We will address two considerations as we consolidate our communities: What we do and how we do it. The concept of constructive action concerns the “how”. It is a way we can work together effectively. And, it has a direct bearing on security.
To put it very simply, constructive action is about being constructive rather than destructive, encouraging 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.
Agreeing on a shared purpose (or several) is also essential. In this way we can test group decision-making tools and come to know each other as friends and allies.
Shared purpose is a lens through which community needs will come into focus, and the efforts of diverse personalities can be coordinated. Shared purpose provides standards by which a community can determine priorities and measure progress.
With patience and willpower each of us can learn how to this meaningfully. And, a positive attitude will support rational thinking and a constructive way forward.
Please look for the next post on or about April 19.