Feeling secure these days? Post 9/11, many seek personal security. Will terrorists strike again? Is it safe for me to fly? Will the economy rebound? Can we afford our lifestyle or to send our children to college? Will my family be safe?
Watching airplanes crash into buildings, hearing of anthrax in the mail, and reading of corporate downsizing confronts people with their inability to direct all of life's circumstances.
Recently my wife dined with a professional colleague who, since September 11, had been feeling anxiety over required business travel. My wife suggested that 9/11 has highlighted the reality that ultimately we cannot control our lives.
A stable and predictable life can enhance feelings of security. When disasters strikes close, fears of future harm can multiply.
The familiar and the soothing can bring security feelings. TIME magazine reports that at year's end, stores stocked up on "cocooning" gifts such as candles and karaoke machines. Retailers hoped to meet customers' longings for personal comfort and family time.
Relationships and family connectedness are big these days. Reports have come of divorcing couples reconciling in the wake of 9/11. Numerous couples began to plan to have children. Holidays took on increased significance as family members sought strength and comfort in each other.
Drug and alcohol abuse also rose post 9/11. Drugs and excess alcohol can ease the distress of uncertainty and give the illusion of eliminating anguish that they really only postpone.
Many have looked to faith and spirituality for solace. The marketplace reflects this interest. Popular jewelry items have included both crosses and horseshoes. (Maybe some feel it never hurts to hedge their bets.)
Bible sales have been brisk. Sales of the popular Left Behind novels about end-times prophecy jumped 462 percent from August to September.
Centuries ago, a Hebrew writer maintained, "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea."
Jesus of Nazareth, a leader who experienced both intimate friendships and terrible loneliness, told his followers they would know grief, troubles and sorrow. He advised them to focus on their relationship with him: "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
The circumstances we cannot control outnumber those we can. Within limits, we can control the clothes we wear, our route to work, and our preference of toothpaste and whether to use it. We can lock our doors and alarm our cars. We cannot control all crazy drivers, falling space junk, hurricanes, earthquakes, thieves, sabotage or war. Though we can postpone it, we cannot completely control death.
"I believe I can do anything I set my mind to," affirmed a positive-thinking salesman friend. "Can you conquer death?" I asked politely. Awkward silence.
When life seems out of control, it may be because it never really was completely in our control. Could true security come from the "refuge and strength" that Hebrew writer recommended?
Rusty Wright is an author and university lecturer who has spoken on six continents. "Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;
email@example.com. Visit our website at www.amyfound.org.