Does 'Security' Make Us Less Secure?


We're discussing a TED talk by Eve Ensler, on security.

What does the word 'security' mean to you?
When you hear 'real security', what does it make you think of? How about security checks? Security watch? Security clearance?

"And why have we, as Americans particularly, become a nation that strives for security above all else?"
What did you think of, when Eve Ensler said this? What are your associations when you think of security and the USA?
Do you think Taiwanese people are very concerned about security? Personal security? National security?


"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."
Do you agree with Eve Ensler on this statement?
What do you suppose she means by 'that's the good news'?


Eve Ensler says that when security is the focus of your life, "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."
What does she mean by hard-matter identity?
Do you personally know anyone with strong, fixed ideas about how people should be in the world?
Do you think that fewer or more people engage in hard-matter identity than before?
Do you think that encouraging people to 'be individuals' can lead to people taking on hard-matter identities and hardline ideas? Do you think insecurity about one's identity can lead to people taking on hard-matter identities and hardline ideas?

What are some of the identities that people categorize themselves and other people in, here in Taiwan, when talking politics or society?
Do you think 'identity' plays a part in Taiwanese politics?


"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.
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 evildoers and saints, criminals and victims."
Do you think a need for safety plays a role in fundamentalism (of any stripe, religious or political), like Eve Ensler implies here?
Do you think nationalism and/or patriotism comes from a need for safety?


"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 gets 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."
Eve Ensler is making a connection between having a need for security to creating a state of war and invasion, torture and dehumanisation of the Other.
Do you think a need for security necessarily leads in this direction?

Is there any way to create security without creating division and war?
What would be the elements of a kind of security where all parties are able to feel secure? Meaning, what circumstances have to be present for people to feel safe in the company of people around them, for instance in business dealings, as neighbors, in political dealings?


"I think what I'm trying to say here is that if your end goal is security, and if that's all you're focusing on, what ends up happening is that you create not only more insecurity in other people, but you make yourself far more insecure. ...
Real security is hungering for connection rather than power. It cannot be bought or arranged or made with bombs. It is deeper, it is a process, it is acute awareness that we are all utterly inter-bended, and one action by one being in one tiny town has consequences everywhere. Real security is not only being able to tolerate mystery, complexity, ambiguity, but hungering for them and only trusting a situation when they are present."


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