The world does have many dangers in it. Every day, people get into terrible accidents, experience violent crimes, and contract horrible diseases. War is practically never ending on the planet, and natural disasters can strike at any time. Yet, compared to how many previous generations of humans lived, most of us lead relatively safe lives; we live in comfortable homes, have more than enough food, can call 911 in an emergency, and have seatbelts and airbags in our cars to keep us safe.
This relative safety, however, does not satisfy us. Worries about the future still haunt our minds: Will an earthquake strike? Will my children fall in with the wrong crowd? What if I go broke in old age? What will happen if the economy collapses? Can we humans survive nuclear war? For all the comforts of the modern world, we are bombarded with constant concerns about what harm might come our way.
Total Security Is Not Achievable
It is fine to take precautions in life to ensure one’s safety and comfort, but there is one very important fact to remember: absolute security is never guaranteed. If you try and try to make your world safe, you can never be sure that something negative won’t happen. If you try, you will simply drive yourself crazy as you think of more and more things that can go wrong.
Accepting that danger and risk are part of life is a prerequisite to any kind of real growth you want to achieve as a person, because you cannot grow by playing it safe. For example, if you want to change jobs to find more career fulfillment, you must be willing to take the risk of quitting the old job. If you wait until all conditions are perfect, you will likely be waiting forever. The possibility that you will fail is real, but your life cannot change unless you are willing to face that possibility. People behave similarly with relationships; they want to have love and friendship and to hide their heart away at the same time.
Fear and Human Suffering
Attachment to security has ramifications far beyond just the progress of our personal lives, however. In fact, it is at the root of most human suffering. You could say that every choice we make as human beings comes down to the choice between two things—love and fear. Love leads to greater unity and positivity, while fear leads to strife and conflict.
As an example, let’s look at conflicts that arise between human races and cultures. If there has been some negative interaction between two groups, there might be some resentment that remains that turns into negative opinions and stereotypes directed at each other. This is a fear-based response that arises from a primitive desire to protect ones tribe from the danger presented by another. When caught up in this thinking, one can only see reasons to fear the other group; positive traits are simply ignored. This kind of thinking leads to racism and injustice, and even to wars and terrorism.
Two conflicting groups of humans can never break free from this bind unless members of both groups begin to choose love over fear. This is a risk, of course, since others can choose to lash out with their hate, even if we choose love. If we drop our attachment to security though, we may be able to find the courage to choose love over fear, and peace and healing might be possible.
Focusing on the Present Moment
Dropping your attachment to security begins with attention to the present moment, the now. When you focus on the hurts of the past or the worries of the future, your mind will want to seek security, and to make choices based on fear rather than love. So, do your best to focus on now as much as you can. You can of course make plans as needed and buy your necessary insurance policies, but don’t obsess about what negative events might happen or what has already happened in the past. Chances are, everything is pretty good right here in this present moment—you are safe and well-fed. And if you think about it, there are many things to be grateful for, such as creature comforts, good friends, and many opportunities to grow and better your life right now.