Robert has a post up about security, the illusion of it, and the difference between those.
I realized, reading his words, how much we see this in the private sphere as well as the public one; endless TV news reports about baby products that actually can kill your children, don’t eat this or that or you’ll get cancer. Gated communities, security systems, houses with attached garages in front and privacy fences in back, blocks where you go for days without seeing your neighbors and then wonder why you’re so lonely. It’s very quiet in your safe little house with your keypad entry and your great big dog, and then you realize it wasn’t noise that frightened you at all.
One of my deepest beliefs is that people were meant to live in community, that the most comforting sound is not the roar of the ocean or the wind on the plains but the hum of a city, the train going by, somebody honking, a conversation between dog-walkers, kids’ bikes left on someone else’s lawn. The hum of others, awake when you are asleep, so that you know someone is watching out for the world even when you close your eyes.
You could wall yourself off in your little world and try to be safe, telling yourself that’s all you can control so you’re going to control it ruthlessly. You could die safe in your house. You could die never having crossed the street. You could die never having heard, in annoyance at first and then rapturous wonder, your downstairs neighbor finally getting that sonata she’s been practicing perfectly, gloriously right, at three in the morning.