The pandemic has turned our concept of security on its head. It has generated a cascading effect of fearful outcomes. These have led to an overwhelmed medical community, lockdowns, lay-offs, loss of medical coverage. business failures, kids out of school, and so forth. It seems every day brings a new and unfamiliar reality.
Americans in particular are not used to this sort of insecurity. Built into our national identity was a sense of exceptionalism. Our founders believed that the colonies, and later America, would not make the same mistakes that old Europe had made over the centuries. We were supposed to be the best of the best.
This uniquely American exceptionalism has now morphed into full-blown narcissism. Emulating the wealthy, many Americans measure their success against those lower on the food chain. Many are stuck in the erroneous theologies attributed to John Calvin, John Knox, Cornelius Jansen, and others. The notions that those ‘blessed by God’ would be marked by their wealth, education, power, and authority and those ‘accursed by God’ would be branded forever by poverty, minority status, and a life of servitude, continue to influence our politics and national ethos.
This narcissistic exceptionalism has allowed Americans to create a class structure very similar to that of Victorian England. Money dominates. The middle class struggles to keep up. Many poor, people of color, and new immigrants are accused of laziness for their lack of economic progress. A ‘me first’ attitude runs rampant, as witnessed by the pandemic spread.
In fact, a large majority of people in all economic and social strata feel insecure, afraid, adrift. What if we are looking in the wrong direction for security?
On LinkedIn I am impressed with the many postings I review. Most express a deep sense of security based in firmly held, transcendent values and well-formed consciences that guide their words and actions. We want to make the world a better place for everyone.
Here are eight foundations from which we find true security:
1. Faith. Not only religious faith, but a deep trust in ourselves, our goodness, our decision-making, our intentions, and in those who share our values.
2. Justice. Sharing the basics of life with everyone: housing, healthcare, food, education, non-threatening law enforcement. This is what builds and unites communities. Minimal needs of all are gladly met by all.
3. Activism. If we scratch beneath the surface of activists with whom we disagree, we’ll find people like ourselves. They participate in their causes because they want to belong to a community. So do we. We make the world a better place when we have each other’s backs, when we support the right to belong. And when we listen to each other’s motivations for activism.
4. Values. Our core values define beliefs we are willing to die for. But that’s not enough. We have to live by them and be willing to sacrifice for them.
5. Balance. Body, mind, and spirit work best when in balance. This means appropriate self-care, intentionality, mindfulness, consuming only what we need, and practicing unrestrained empathy in the workplace and at home.
6. Freedom. Freedom is not license. The only absolute freedoms are the freedoms to breath and to love. All of our freedoms, bestowed by God or otherwise, are qualified and limited according to context and the needs of others. Are we adult enough to tailor our personal preferences to respect other people’s freedoms?
7. Love. Ultimate security is rooted first in love of self, for who we are, who we choose to be, and not just for what others want or expect of us. This love has to be sacrificial, unconditional, and life-giving if it is to rise above superficial sentimentality.
8. Humility. When we get it into our core that we humans are all alike, formed from the same dust to which we will return, we will foster change for everyone. I often said that I have never written or spoken anything original. We’re on a continuum to which we either contribute good for others or take for ourselves.
Authentic security does not get delivered to our door in a box by Amazon. It has nothing to do with economics, politics, religion, work, or wealth. We have to work for it by consciously building personal and corporate security on solid foundations. In turn these foundations must sit on a bedrock of vulnerability and fearlessness.
True and lasting security has to be rooted in integrity and authenticity. We do this by bringing together the pieces of our life experience, making sense of them, forgiving the past, and working toward a future where we accept and love everyone for who they are deep in their souls.
Are you ready to face building true security? I would love to hear from you. Michael@mpariselifecoach.com Text me at 813-449-3904
My book can also help: Life Interrupted: Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed