Got safety?

ImageA question for you: How safe do you feel… right now?

            Looking back, it seems like an odd question. And so if safety seems like an odd thing to discuss, it must be because I feel very safe. How about you?

            I ask this question because SAFETY seems to be the topic du jour in the news these days. We see it popping up during the hearings about the Boston Marathon bombing; we ask, “How could this have been prevented?” and, “Why wasn’t more done to share information among agencies and nip this in the bud?” At the root of all of these concerns is the question: “How can we help make this country SAFER?”

            Safety also seems to be the question at the root of the gun control debate. Gun advocates want the unimpeded right to have firearms in the home as a way to ensure their safety… I guess safety from those rampant bands of outlaws roaming the plains randomly breaking into homes and stealing our womenfolk. (sorry… I couldn’t help myself. Forgiveness, please?)

            This week’s recent tragic murders of the people in Ottawa, KS, seemingly out of the clear blue sky certainly do not do anything to increase anyone’s overall feeling of safety.

One of the problems is the daily news we consume. Journalists necessarily focus disproportionately on acts of mayhem and violence. Recent studies have shown that the incidents of violence in this country (person-to-person) per 100,000 population have trended steadily downward over the last 200 years. And yet when they happen they are NEWSWORTHY, so they receive media attention.

The impression we get from these stories, however, is that of a land gone wild… with brigands and renegades slashing and shooting their way up the street, heading straight for our front door! Small wonder people live in an attitude of fear.

The other problem is the WHERE problem: we have collectively erred in answering the question, “Where do I find authentic safety?”

When we leave that answer up to the forces of the federal government and law enforcement, we come up with answers like, “More thorough surveillance!” and “Better information-sharing between departments!” and “Encouraging the public to ‘see something… say something’!” or “More secure borders!”

When we let the NRA and its henchmen answer the question we hear, “Armed guards in schools!” or “Free, unfettered access to all types of firearms!”

It is time for people of faith to weigh in on the WHERE question. Fear only breeds more fear. Arms breed more arms. Thick walls breed thicker walls. It is a cycle that has no end and produces exactly the opposite of what it seeks to produce.

But it takes me back to a conversation I had not long ago with a woman who was dying of a particularly lingering form of cancer. In one of our last conversations before she lost the ability to speak, I asked if she had any fear of death. She said, “I am certainly sad when I think about what my family will go through when I die, but I have absolutely no fear at all for myself. I know I belong to God and always have. I am just getting ready to go home.”

As Matthew 10:28 reminds us, “… Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body…” Yes, we should make sure we take steps to prevent criminals from harming innocent people. But we should always remember that our REAL safety and security comes from knowing we have an eternal Creator and Redeemer who has claimed us as his own and who will never, ever leave us… no matter what manner of mayhem we might face outside.

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