Recently singer/songwriter, Randall Williams posed an interesting question on Facebook. He asked his friends to define the word “security”. One suspects that for every five people one asks one is likely to get seven or eight answers. There will always be folks with more than one definition. My immediate answer was to tell Randall that, while many people may define security in financial terms, I took security from the knowledge that I was able to make music and would probably be able to do so for quite some time to come. Security is hearing that first laugh from an audience. It tells me that I’m doing my job right. Subsequent posts discussed everything from jokes about weapons to one of the better Peter Gabriel albums. Shock the monkey, indeed. There were a few which stood out as interesting thoughts. For example, Kate Robertson said,”knowing that there is a Love-inspired imperative operating in each of us...individually and collectively...urging us towards our best irresistible desire to live with, and for, others, to give generously, to share our lives and talents with one another, build family and community, and to trust and be trusted. this is the ‘space’ that feels most secure for me.” Needless to say, that made me feel just a bit self-serving after what I had posted on the subject. It does, however, raise an interesting issue about what the word “security” might mean to in a larger context. Is it a question of values? I was raised to believe that if you see something wrong and are in a position to set it right, it is your responsibility to do so. This was reenforced by my childhood heroes; the cowboys of television and movies. There was always the underlying theme, in these productions, that we live as part of a community, have a duty to serve said community, and, in so doing, serve ourselves. This simple idea is part of the foundation of every religion in the world. I have heard it argued that the effort to spread this concept is one of the primary reasons for such a thing as religion to exist. Thought he principle is simple, it’s enactment takes a bit of doing. It requires an act of will. It requires effort. Without these the principle is meaningless. Without these the principle has no reality. We currently live in a world in which words like “security” seem to have little meaning or reality. I will leave it to the social scientists, theologians, and historians to determine and explain why we have come to this point. Suffice to say that we live in a world which frequently seems, to many, overwhelmingly frightening. That can be changed. Each of us can be one of the agents of that change. One is reminded of a song written by Mason Williams (he of “Classical Gas” fame), called “Godsend”. “I can tell there has been a cave-in By the look in your eyes. You’re trapped down deep in the mines, Half buried in lies. I’ll try to reach you if I can. I just hope it’s in time. Start working this way from your end, And I’ll start from mine.” Making the effort to act in one’s community is not, necessarily, a political act (although, obviously, it can be). More often than not, it’s the smaller, more mundane things which have the largest impact. Do you know someone who is going through a tough time and just needs an ear to bend? Make yours bendable. Are you about to cross the street, a bus is coming up to the corner, and you see someone running like blazes to catch it, but they might not make it? Flag down the bus for them. So, you missed your light. There will be another “walk” light long before the next bus shows up. Treat everyone you meet with respect and grace. Learn (if you haven’t already) to disagree without becoming disagreeable. In short, do anything and everything you can to help make the lives of the people around you, at the very least, less miserable. I’ve no doubt that you are already thinking about a couple of dozen other little-bitty things that you could do to help out in your corner of the universe. These things don’t sound very important, but the long range effect can be profound. The concept of the “ripple effect” of these sorts of actions is a cliche’ because it keeps being true. It’s repercussions can be staggering. Mind you, I’m not saying that we should ignore the big issues. We still need to clean up the environment, shield ourselves against greed and stupidity in the banking system, keep the health-care bill from death by amendment, etc. All of these things need to be done. But, in order to make the world better we need to work as hard, maybe harder, at improving the micro-verse as the macro-verse. We need to work on our lives and our society at the molecular level. Think of it this way. Is there not a certain comfort factor, for all concerned, in being kind and courteous? Is there not a certain security in knowing, at the end of the day, that you have done your best to do the right thing? Does it not help to create what Ms. Robertson called “an irresistible desire to live with, and for, others” ? Does it not make it easier for you to start working this way from your end while I start from mine?