In Search of a Secure Life
SECURITY means different things to different people. To one person, security is a job; to someone else, it is wealth; and to a third person, security is a crime-free environment. Does it mean something else to you?
Whatever your view, you doubtless take steps to try to make your life as secure as you want it to be. Consider what people in Europe are doing to achieve a measure of personal security.
According to Jacques Santer, president of the European Commission, 20 percent of young people in the European Union are unemployed. Hence, for that age group, much depends upon one question, How do I get a job that will make my life secure? Many believe that this goal can be best achieved through higher education, which, as The Sunday Times of London comments, gives students “a significant advantage in the jobs market.”
In Germany, for instance, “the desire for education and academic status is as great as ever,” reports the Nassauische Neue Presse. This despite the fact that living as a student for the duration of a university course in that country costs, on the average, about $55,000.
Young people who take education seriously and who desire job security are to be commended. And someone with skills and qualifications often has the edge when seeking employment. But does higher education always offer job security? One student said: “I knew from the very beginning that my course of study would not lead to a clearly defined professional activity and would not offer security.” Her case is not unusual. In one recent year, the number of unemployed university graduates in Germany reached an all-time high.
In France, according to one newspaper, young people attend universities because a high school diploma is of little value in the face of high youth unemployment. However, many university students accept that at the end of their studies, they “will be no better off with a degree in their pocket.” The Independent reports that in Britain “the stresses of academic life are taking a terrible toll on students.” It is reported that far from helping students to cope with the insecurity of life, university life at times leads to such problems as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Often, learning a trade or getting practical training in some field of production enables one to obtain secure employment more readily than does having a university degree.
Are 10,000 Possessions Enough?
Many believe that the secret of a secure life is wealth. This may appear to be a sound approach, since a good bank balance is a reserve to fall back on in difficult times. The Bible explains that “money is for a protection.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) However, does increased wealth always improve personal security?
Not necessarily. Consider how wealth has increased in the last 50 years. At the end of World War II, a broad section of the German population had almost nothing. Today, according to a German newspaper, the average German possesses 10,000 items. If economic forecasts are correct, following generations will possess even more. But does this accumulation of wealth make life more secure? No. A survey in Germany revealed that 2 people out of 3 consider life to be less secure than it was 20 or 30 years ago. So a huge increase in wealth has not made people feel more secure.
This makes sense because, as was mentioned in the preceding article, feeling insecure is an emotional burden. And an emotional burden cannot be completely relieved by material wealth. True, wealth acts as a cushion against poverty and helps in times of hardship. But under certain circumstances, having much money is as great a burden as having little.
Hence, a balanced attitude toward material belongings will help us keep in mind that while wealth can be a blessing, it is not the key factor in having a secure life. When he was on earth, Jesus Christ encouraged his followers by saying: “Even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) To feel perfectly secure in life, a person needs more than material wealth.
For the elderly, possessions are significant not so much because of their material worth but because of their sentimental value. What concerns the elderly more than wealth is the risk of falling victim to crime.
“Crime . . . has been a growing problem all over the world in the last 30 years,” states the booklet Practical Ways to Crack Crime, published in Britain. Police forces are at full stretch. How are some people coping?
Personal safety starts at home. In Switzerland, for example, one architect specializes in designing burglarproof houses equipped with security locks, reinforced doors, and barred windows. The owners of these homes seem to take quite literally the well-known proverb: “My home is my castle.” According to the newsmagazine Focus, these houses are costly, but the demand is strong.
To increase personal safety both inside and outside the home, citizens of some communities have organized neighborhood watch schemes. Residents of certain suburbs go even further, paying a security firm to patrol their area at given hours. Many people feel it advisable not to be alone at night on deserted city streets. And parents, who are naturally concerned about the welfare of their children, may take extra precautions to protect them. Consider the suggestions found in the box on this page.
But not everyone can afford to buy a burglarproof home. What is more, neighborhood schemes and security patrols may not reduce overall crime; they may simply shift it into unprotected areas. Crime thus remains a major threat to personal security. For our lives to be secure, more is needed than an all-out effort to beat crime.
Treat the Disease—Not Just the Symptoms
Each of us has a natural desire for a secure life, and we do well to take reasonable, practical steps to achieve this goal. But crime, unemployment, and all the other things that make our lives insecure are only symptoms of a condition that is affecting all mankind. In order to cure this condition, it is necessary to attack, not just the symptoms, but the very cause.
What is the root cause of the insecurity in our lives? How can we eradicate it and thus take away the insecurity of life forever? This will be discussed in the next article.
[Box on page 6]
Ways to Protect Young Children
Because of the frequency of child assaults, kidnappings, and murders, many parents have found it useful to teach their children to do the following:
1. Say no—very firmly—to anyone who tries to make them do something that they feel is bad.
2. Refuse to allow anyone to touch intimate body parts unless—as with a doctor or a nurse—a parent is present.
3. Run away, yell, scream, or appeal to a nearby adult when in danger.
4. Tell the parents about any incident or conversation the child feels uncomfortable about.
5. Refuse to keep a secret from the parents.
As a final point, parents do well to be careful when selecting anyone to be left in charge of their child.
[Pictures on page 5]
For our lives to be secure, we need more than education, wealth, or an all-out effort to beat crime