Safety is at the heart of a number of today’s most pressing issues. We all want to feel safe, but what does that really mean? Is it even possible to be safe from everything?
There are several different threats facing us, and fear of those threats drive our behavior, from how we speak, to who we vote for, to how we want our taxes allocated.
Some people feel they are not safe on an individual, personal level. For example, someone might be afraid of crime, so they advocate for a larger, more powerful police force to protect them. Alternately, others may fear the police, so they urge law enforcement reform.
Some people fear getting sick, or transmitting the virus to others, so they stay at home, or wear a mask when they go out in order to be safe.
Some threats are more nebulous. Climate change threatens our entire species, but that danger isn’t concrete. How can we safeguard the world from this danger?
Safety is harder to pin down as the threats get more abstract. How to we stay safe from losing our way of life, whether it be from other countries, degrading social or political norms, or zealots or terrorists? Or our own tyrannical government?
What is the best way to ensure that we are all secure and able to prosper? Is it through force, like a powerful military or law enforcement? Is it through a social safety net to protect the weakest or most disadvantaged? A strong set of laws, with a punitive penal system? An armed populace? Collective action, including protests?
How can we be safe?