Letter Photography - SECURITY
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children if men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
- Helen Keller
As we know, Helen Keller was born healthy, but was left blind and deaf after an illness at the age of 19 months. Therefore, she also didn’t learn to speak like other children do. Maybe this event, while still a toddler, influenced her view on security or rather the illusion of security.
What is security, and what do we understand when we say the word? Is there such a thing as security? If so, where can it be found? If not, then what are we to do? First, let’s consult the Oxford Dictionary to tell us more about what the word means.
“Security” is derived from the Old French “Securite” or Latin “Securitas”, which in turn is derived from “Secures,” which means “free from care.”
Here are a few of the definitions found in the Oxford Dictionary:
• THE STATE OF BEING FREE FROM DANGER OR THREAT
Who among us are ever free from danger or threat? The least of us might have the threat of poor healthcare, unsafe working conditions or living in dangerous neighbourhoods. The middle class struggle with financial security and saving enough money to carry them through their old age. The rich face threats in keeping all their wealth safe, and even sometimes their loved ones from the hands of those who would take them hostage. The powerful often have to face the possibility that their power might be taken from them. Every person faces the likelihood that we might suddenly fall ill with an incurable disease, that our lives could be ended by a freak accident, or a long list of probabilities. The question remains: “Is anyone ever in the state of being free from danger or threat?”
• THE SAFETY OF A STATE OR ORGANISATION AGAINST CRIMINAL ACTIVITY SUCH AS TERRORISM, THEFT OR ESPIONAGE
Which country or organisation can claim that they have always been free from terrorism, theft or espionage? Which of these can say for sure that it would never happen to them?
Grant me the opportunity to tell you the tale of a family who were looking for a safe place to spend their lives. They were living in South Africa in the early 1980s, and the political unrest was causing them so much anxiety that they started searching for security elsewhere. They searched and read and finally found a place that seemed to be the pinnacle of peaceful living. They uprooted their family and moved 4,000 miles away to this haven of peace and rest. Imagine their surprise when, a few weeks after their arrival, they found themselves smack dab in the middle of the Falkland Islands War. Three civilian women were killed by “friendly fire” in the conflict. According to Mercopress, as of January 2017 (35 years after the conflict), 46 minefields remained to be cleared in the Falkland Islands. This family had left a country in the middle of challenging political times in the hopes of nesting in a peaceful little corner of the world, only to be ushered into the reality that security was not to be found there either. Had they known this, i wonder whether they’d have made the same decision. Never mind terrorism, theft or espionage; sometimes you aren’t even safe against all-out war!
During 2016, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Mozambique, the United States of America, Nepal, Germany and Greece each faced more terrorist attacks than South Africa. In 2015 that list includes Thailand, the UK, Germany, Nepal, the USA, France, Sweden, Greece, Ireland, China, Tanzania, Japan, Finland, Mozambique, Australia, Italy, Canada, Brazil, Denmark, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. When we meet foreigners abroad, they often object to visiting South Africa on the grounds of security. Granted, we have other evils, such as carjacking, rape and murder. But all of these are hazardous if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, wouldn’t you agree? Yet, most people would still travel to the UK, USA, France, Italy or Holland without giving their safety a second thought, as opposed to their perceptions of rampant death and destruction in South Africa. Methinks the concept of “security” should be reconsidered by many of us.
What about disease? In South Africa we face an enormous wave of HIV/AIDS, but we have not faced the huge Ebola crisis experienced in West Africa during 2014, or the Zika virus, which has over many decades spread from Central Africa to Asia, Micronesia, South America and North America.
Many countries are faced with natural disasters – earthquakes in the Mediterranean and Asia, hurricanes in North America, floods in almost every part of the world, mudslides in many Asian countries, tsunamis in Thailand and Japan, plagues of insects, forest fires, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It seems to be just a matter of time before everyone’s neck of the woods will have to face some form of danger or hazard.
• PROCEDURES FOLLOWED OR MEASURES TAKEN TO ENSURE THE SECURITY OF A STATE OR ORGANISATION
Have such procedures ensured safety for every state and every organisation every time they’d been attacked?
• THE STATE OF FEELING SAFE, STABLE AND FREE FROM FEAR OR ANXIETY
Is there a single person you know who really feels that way? Doesn’t everyone of us have something in our lives that we feel is not safe, stable and free from anxiety?
• A THING DEPOSITED OR PLEDGED AS A GUARANTEE OF THE FULFILLMENT OF AN UNDERTAKING OR THE REPAYMENT OF A LOAN, TO BE FORFEITED IN CASE OF DEFAULT
Let’s consider an example: A man needs a loan and is granted funds from his bank. He has to offer his home as security. Now, what would happen if a massive earthquake flattens his home while he is asleep in his bed, and kills him as well? In fact the whole city and surrounding areas suffer devastating losses in the earthquake. While he was alive, this man had an insurance policy, which provided “security” against losses. However, there is an Act of God exclusion in the policy, which states that in the event of natural disasters, the insurance company will not be held liable to pay any claims.
The question here is: is the bank secure? The man is no longer alive to repay his debt. His home is destroyed, and the insurance company won’t pay the claim. The man had no other assets, and the bank has no way to claim the debt back anymore.
Granted, this is an extreme example, but it is a valid probability.
• A CERTIFICATE ATTESTING CREDIT, THE OWNERSHIP OF STOCKS OR BONDS, OR THE RIGHT TO OWNERSHIP CONNECTED WITH TRADABLE DERIVATIVES.
Stock or bond certificates, of course are about as secure as every other example mentioned, as you might recall from Black Tuesday, the day in 1929 when the whole house of cards collapsed in Wall Street.
What is my conclusion about “security?” It seems there are only two sure (secure) things in this life: death and taxes. Therefore, i have placed my hope for security in the next life, where illness, natural disasters, terrorism and financial losses cannot harm me. In this life i'll face every danger and threat that comes my way, because security in this life is not my treasure.
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