Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Illusion of security, and the disaster of chasing it

This is an extract from a TED Talk delivered by Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues.
Although part of a different talk, I found this entire section so profound because it has a universal truth to it : We must stop chasing the illusion of security.

Here's the video. It'll be great if you can play it while reading - makes a big impact.

"I'm very worried today about this notion, this world, this prevailing kind of force of security. I see this word, hear this word, feel this word everywhere. Real security, security checks, security watch, security clearance. Why has all this focus on security made me feel so much more insecure? What does anyone mean when they talk about real security? And why have we as Americans particularly, become a nation that strives for security above all else? In fact, I think that security is elusive, it's impossible. We all die. We all get old. We all get sick. People leave us. People change us. Nothing is secure. And that's actually the good news.

This is, of course, unless your whole life is about being secure. I think that when that is the focus of your life, these are the things that happen. You can't travel very far or venture too far outside a certain circle. You can't allow too many conflicting ideas into your mind at one time as they might confuse you or challenge you. You can't open yourself to new experiences, new people, new ways of doing things. They might take you off course. You can't not know who you are, so you cling to hard-matter identity. You become a Christian, Muslim, Jew. You're an Indian, Egyptian, Italian, American. You're a heterosexual or a homosexual, or you never have sex. Or at least, that's what you say when you identify yourself. You become part of an "us." In order to be secure, you defend against "them." You cling to your land because it is your secure place. You must fight anyone who encroaches upon it. You become your nation. You become your religion. You become whatever it is that will freeze you, numb you and protect you from doubt or change. But all this does actually, is shut down your mind. In reality, it does not really make you safer.

I was in Sri Lanka, for example, three days after the tsunami, and I was standing on the beaches and it was absolutely clear that in a matter of five minutes, a 30 foot wave could rise up and desecrate a people, a population and lives. All this striving for security, in fact, has made you much more insecure because now, you have to watch out all the time. There are people not like you. People who you now call enemies, you have places you cannot go, thoughts you cannot think, worlds that you can no longer inhabit. And so you spend your days fighting things off, defending your territory, and becoming more entrenched in your fundamental thinking. Your days become devoted to protecting yourself. This becomes your mission. That is all you do. Ideas get shorter. They become sound bytes. There are evil-doers and saints, criminals and victims.

There are those who, if they're, not with us, are against us. It gets easier to hurt people because you do not feel what's inside them. It's easier to lock them up, force them to be naked, humiliate them, occupy them, invade them and kill them because they are only obstacles now to your security."

Quoted from TED Talk by Eve Ensler

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