Four prongs of security -- 安定性の4角

The real meaning of security is not as straightforward as it might seem. It's hard to summarize in a single blog, much less a single blog post. Single sentence?

If you know God, you are by definition secure.

But you don't think that helps you, I suppose.

I can propose four five prongs of security:

  1. Know God. Know yourself. Start understanding the world around you.
  2. Know what you have. Start understanding its value.
  3. Set limits on your ambitions and desires. Start setting real priorities.
  4. Decide what you need to protect and how much you are willing to expend to protect it.
  5. Start implementing your priorities.

(Four prongs. That would make a catchy title for a book, I suppose. 8-*)

It's the fourth fifth step that we want to jump to when we talk about security, but we have to have the first three four to tell us about the fourth fifth. And once you get the fourth fifth somewhat right, you look back and discover you didn't quite get the first three four right after all. 

Yes, that means security is a process, because you can't get those four five right the first time or even the first n times you try. You're mortal, and you need to learn to live with that fact.

And you can't be truly secure unless you are working through those four five prongs on a regular basis.

I could write a book about this. Put a picture of a diamond ring on the front cover. Invite all sorts of arguments about four vs. six. >;-P

Maybe someday.

Let's look through those, at any rate. 

If you don't know yourself, how do you know how much you really care about what you have? If you own a diamond mine but don't really like diamonds, one really good step towards security might be to sell the stupid mine. Or even give it away. The same goes with any possession you might want to protect.

Until you know yourself, you have nothing to lay down as a secure foundation.

How do you know yourself without knowing God?

For this purpose, if you profess atheism, replace "God" with these four principles/entities:

  1. The source and rules of the original creation,
  2. The rules of on-going existence, and the way those rules work,
  3. The source of intelligence,
  4. The ultimate assignation of value.

Yeah, there are more here, too, but we have to start somewhere.

If you profess agnosticism, you really should get off the fence.

If you profess a belief in some God or gods, does your belief enlighten your understanding of the above four principles/entities? If not, it is time you starting digging into your understanding of your beliefs. Without that, you can't really get started on security.

When you start understanding God, you start understanding yourself. You can start putting your understanding of yourself in the context of the world around you. And that allows you to touch the world around you in a deeper sense, and the touch brings understanding.

When you start understanding yourself and the world around you, you start making sense of the division between things which are yours and things which are not. That's where you start understanding what you have.

When you understand whether something is yours, you have confidence in using it. You are better able to judge what you should do with it and what you should refrain from doing. That allows you to understand it better and therefore to understand its value, both to yourself and to others.

You also begin to understand that you have real limits. Time is the biggest limit, but health, strength, and talent are other limits. 

It's an interesting thing about limits. Until you recognize your limits, you think you can have everything. Now. Or at least in this life, while you're young enough to enjoy it. You have no reason, therefore, to get out and do things. So you don't. And your world becomes smaller. You might find an illusion of security in a smaller world, but it is just an illusion. Like hiding under your blanket in the middle of the night.

When you recognize your real limits, that's when you are motivated to get up in the middle of the night and turn on the lights. That's when you wake up in the morning and say to yourself, "I want to do this thing today, or at least get a few steps farther on the road to getting it done."

That's a real goal. Not a goal to be president. Not a goal to marry the beauty queen or the multi-millionaire. Winning the lottery is not something you can make happen, no matter how many so-called self-help books are sold, no matter how many rich-and-famous people think that claiming they did it their way is somehow meaningful.

Of course they did it their way. And you have to do things your way. Otherwise you won't get them done.

It's funny. I'm not talking about things here. Owning a Corvette may be an interesting thing to do, but your real priorities are elsewhere. Otherwise, the Corvette (or BMW or any other thing of high market value in this world) becomes a trap. Owning those status symbols only makes you think you are happy for a little while.

Then you either use them and discover the real value (or lack thereof), or you put them up on a pedestal where they are "secure" and stroke your ego with them from time to time, and they gather dust and rust and eventually go the way of all the world. 

This is not security.

Your priorities need to shift from things of supposed (market) value to things that actually make your life worth living. These things are often intangible: friendship, faith, philosophy, etc. Some are a bit more tangible, skills, talents, strengths. 

Some few are actually physical objects. A small car that gets you to work economically every day is of great value. But you won't protect it the same way you would protect a BMW because the value, being real, is value to you and not so much to would-be thieves.

Knowing what you have and how much value it is to yourself and to others helps you decide what measures you are willing to take to secure it. It also helps you to choose, in your day-to-day living, to use things that other people aren't as likely to steal, etc. To choose utility over form, or at least to choose meaningful form when you choose form.

And things that you actually use tend to be less subject to theft because the potential thief knows you will be aware when it is taken.

Things which you actually use, when they fall apart, you know in advance. And you can be ready to replace them. 

These are the things which implement your priorities and which tend to improve your real security.

Security is not a product you can buy. Security is what you do with what you have.

Once you get comfortable with these principles, you begin to have tools to evaluate so-called security products, safes, locks, alarm systems, anti-virus software, political policies, etc.

And you know not to waste your money and time on most of it. (Time more than money.) Not because none of it is useful, but because most of it is not useful to you. 

This allows you to choose how much of your resource to focus on security, and to focus on meaningful efforts.

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