“Security” Isn’t the End-All and Be-All

Job security. Health security. Social Security. Security, security, security …

Conventional wisdom to the contrary, “security” does not mean the absence of conflict, work or pain. Psychologically, security refers to an emotional state of competence, freedom-worship, and confidence that one has adequate tools to survive and flourish in life. Individuals do not feel secure because others are taking care of them; they feel secure because they are confident in the knowledge they can take care of themselves. The more self-reliant one is, the more secure one will feel.

The sort of security most people yearn for, and too many psychologists and other spiritual-educational-political leaders encourage, represents an illusion. Doing whatever one feels whenever one feels like it will not lead to security. Nor will blindly following the rules of authorities. Neither modern subjectivist permissiveness nor old-fashioned dogmatic authoritarianism represent the antidote to personal insecurity.

The very idea of “security” without effort or initiative, as so many people seek, represents a vicious illusion; an illusion which, in the twentieth century [and now the twenty-first] rationalized every form and degree of government control, from fascism to communism to the dysfunctional American welfare state. Both the National Socialist (Nazi) regime in Germany and the Soviet socialist regime in Russia justified themselves on the idea that the individual has a duty to provide for what politicians see as “the common good,” by force if necessary.

Outside of the political realm, the same false notion of security leads people to inappropriately depend upon relatives for support despite the resulting damage to self-confidence and independence. Family members, armed with clich about the importance of leaning on one another in times of stress, will often pour emotional and financial resources into relatives who consistently make poor decisions. In the name of compassion and caring, they end up enabling and sanctioning the very behaviors they hope to discourage. Long before the modern welfare state, families were privately subsidizing and enabling alcoholic brothers, unfaithful husbands, and unscrupulous cousins–rationalizing that “but for the grace of God,” rather than poor decision making, they might find themselves in the same circumstances.

Genuine security arises from actual, first-hand knowledge that one is both capable and worthy of achieving happiness. In short, an individual must know that he is able to achieve happiness (through conscious, responsible action) and, once having attained it, that he deserves it. From the earliest stages of childhood, human beings must be taught to think, reason, recognize objective reality, distinguish facts from wishes, and pursue constructive goals to the best of their ability.

Security is an individual matter, not a group matter. It arises within the individual, through the use of his own mind and through his own efforts. Loved ones can support the individual in finding security, but cannot give it to him. External agents–psychotherapists, government programs, self-esteem seminars–cannot possibly substitute for human initiative, conscious thought and the will to act.

The above is an excerpt from Dr. Michael Hurd’s book, “Grow Up America!” available for sale at this website.

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