Safety is our number one need. Simply put, if we do not feel safe, nothing else matters. We react instinctually to threat in this way. Anger and anxiety are reactive emotions we experience to a real or imagined threat to our safety.
The economic tsunami caused from the bursting housing and credit bubbles has sent us on a cycle from boom to bust not seen since the great depression. The automotive industry has been the bell weather economic indicator for the stability of capitalism for decades. Do you remember, “How General Motors goes, so goes the nation?” Revelations of corporate greed have sent shock waves from Wall Street to Main Street. The current digital photo of western capitalism captures an astonishing and staggering image of one huge Ponzi scheme.
As for our individual health, we await the coming of each new pandemic from bird flu to swine flu with dread. As for the health of our planet, our carbon footprint has created the fungus of global warming that promises to make our planet as inhabitable as a soiled and smelly tennis shoe.
Our foundations for safety have been forever destabilized. Prior to 9-11-2001, the United States could depend on its geographical boundaries to insure a modicum of safety. Terrorism always happened “over there.” We now know that our safety is no longer an inalienable guaranteed constitutional right. We now know what the rest of the world knows: safety can no longer be taken for granted. We now know that 9-11 is a dividing line in history, marking time “before” and “after.” The “new normal” continues to raise anxiety to new levels. Our collective consensus is not if there will be another terrorist strike but when and where. Fighting a war on terror without boundaries and borders may well mean that our nation and the world will now be in a state of war in perpetuity. We have notched up both anxiety and anger through isolated and prolonged acts of “holy violence.”[ii]
We cannot live purposefully, creatively, and with passion if we are stuck in a protective mode. Our psychological safety needs trigger anger and anxiety when there are real or imagined threats to issues of justice or competence.
[i] Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (Novato: New World Library, 1991), 103.
[ii] Gil Bailie, Violence Unveiled, Humanity at the Crossroads (New York: Crossroad, 1995).