Is Your World Actually Less Safe Than It Was?

Do you lock your door at night?

Do you lock your door if you head out to grab groceries?

Do you lock your doors when you leave for work or school or jazzercize

in the morning?

I know I do.  And why is that? Is it because I feel unsafe in my quiet suburban neighbourhood?

No.

Actually, apart from my family out in the countryside, I don’t really know anyone in a more peaceful place than right here on Pear Tree Bay.

Sometimes it’s too peaceful – I love it when kids are outside playing street hockey and making a ruckus. But that seems to be less common these days. I guess in addition to locking our doors, our kids aren’t playing in the street as much as they might have in the past.

Ah, the good old days!

Michael Moore once went around testing his theory that Canadians don’t lock their doors by simply walking into houses in Toronto.  He just walked right in. None of the doors was locked. That was 15 years ago.  In his polemical way, he was trying to show that Canadians were more trusting than Americans. He was trying to demonstrate that Canadians are less fearful.

That was 15 years ago.  And 15 years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, I still believed in polemics. I thought there was an us and a them.  Good people and Bad people.

I don’t anymore. The world, and the people in it are far too nuanced, too complex.

But I am guessing that he’d find a lot more locked doors now. And to Mr. Moore that would prove that us Canadians feel less safe than we used to.

I’m not really sure that it works that way. I think that we can trust our neighbours and still lock our doors. On the other hand, we can leave our doors wide open even if we are afraid of our neighbours. The lock is not a reflection of how safe you feel, it is just a reflection on the sense of safety a lock provides to you. Lots of people are actually way more afraid of what’s inside their houses than what’s outside.

And, given how much time people spend avoiding reality, it seems that the thing most people are the most afraid of is what’s inside of their own heads. They fear being alone with their thoughts. Or, at least, they feel the perpetual need to be distracted from themselves, their values, their lives. So, rather than looking inward, they scroll through messages on their phone.

My sense is that the world is a very safe place for a lot of people and a very scary place for way too many others. But, as a student of history, psychology, and human relationships, I see it’s always been this way.  What’s different now is that we as a society are inside so much more often than we are outside in nature. That’s a shame. Yet, no matter where we find ourselves, it seems we’re often looking outside in order to avoid facing what’s inside of us.

Like a lot of you in your roles at home and work, it’s my job as a husband, father, and therapist is to help myself and the people I care for make our homes and our minds into the safest, most comforting places in the world.  

Even when the wifi isn’t working and the cable is down!


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