A question of security or insecurity


While it is true that security is a constant issue, I wonder if the real reason behind it is that feeling of uncertainty or a lack of confidence and anxiety about ourselves.

Musings by Marina Mahathir, The Star

SINCE we are all worried about security these days, I decided to look up the meaning of “insecurity”.

Besides the feeling of being constantly in danger or under threat, insecurity also means “a feeling of uncertainty, or a lack of confidence and anxiety about yourself”.

While we worry daily about the many crimes being committed in our neighbourhoods with no real solution in sight, sometimes I wonder if we have a security crisis or an insecurity crisis.

While it is true that security is a constant issue, I wonder if the real reason behind it is that feeling of uncertainty or a lack of confidence and anxiety about ourselves.

These feelings of security and insecurity are of course related.

On the one hand, the very people who should make us feel secure are in fact making us insecure.

How certain do we feel about our future when we see hesitant and sometimes absent leadership at times when we most need it?

How can we not feel anxious when the leadership is silent on the things that matter to the citizenry?

As a citizen, I want a decent life for my family, my fellow citizens and myself. This, anyone would think, is quite basic and common to everyone.

I want to be able to have a roof over my head, education for my kids, the opportunity to earn a decent living and affordable healthcare when I need it.

When a human being is unable to have these basics, then they start to feel that most normal of human instincts, insecurity.

If enough people feel that way, then that’s a recipe for instability and mass insecurity.

It is not possible for any country to be stable if many of its people feel hungry or deprived of the most essential ingredients to lead a normal life.

Countries rise and fall based on these simple facts. Once inequalities start to spread, then it is only normal that insecurity, in the sense of danger, follows.

I was talking to a friend who has been working abroad a lot about a situation that he found very stark since he’s been back.

There are people who seem to be caught in a quagmire of debt that they simply cannot get out of.

The vicious cycle of inability to access what a person needs which leads to overuse of credit, which leads to an inability to pay, which then leads to getting loans at high interest rates from unscrupulous persons, seems never ending.

It leads to insecurity not just for the original borrower but also for all those within his or her family circle.

Recently, two leading religious figures have spoken about this terrible crisis that many face, of easy credit and crushing debt.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warned that the ease at which money, in its virtual form, not in exchange for actual goods and services, is available has led to much misery among people.

Most recently, Pope Francis talked about the same thing, how the pursuit of money for its own sake has brought with it “a culture where the weakest in society suffer the most” and often, those on the fringes “fall away”, including the elderly, who he said were victims of a “hidden euthanasia” caused by “neglect of those no longer considered productive”.

I have yet to hear the Muslim equivalent of this, of concern for a global system that is increasing insecurity of people everywhere.

Instead, I hear a different insecurity, of one where there are constant so-called moral attacks, usually by imagined assailants. Where limited interpretations of religion are to be enforced because otherwise the religion will disappear, despite evidence to the contrary.

In some ways, these self-appointed guardians of religion have reason to worry.

Every action of theirs is self-defeating. For every cruelty they inflict on those who are weak, they lose more adherents.

For every injustice they perpetuate, there are people who leave disgusted. For every justification they give to inequality, people baulk and root for equality.

When we look at the most unstable countries in the world, inevitably they are also the ones with masses of poor people.

Economic injustice breeds problems not just within countries, but externally as well.

It leads to mass migration of people to look for work, and sometimes it brings violence.

It thus makes sense to prioritise dealing with such injustice.

Instead, we see our leaders behaving like people anxious about protecting their own comforts rather than anyone else’s.

This they do by distracting us from real issues, by telling us that some small groups of people, even dead ones, are a threat, by refusing to let some people speak or even be seen in our media.

So I have to ask: Who’s the insecure one?

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.