Being a person who draws odd connections between items, in looking at the state of our social and politicla cultures, I find there to be striking similarities that demonstrate a fundamental state of insecurity at the base of many of our behaviors and problems. Many of these problems are interconnected, but today I will choose two of them simply because I happen to have read about these concerns this morning and thought it would be worthwhile to draw parallels between problems that most people would not ever think to examine in tandem, viewing how insecurity lies at the base of both problems, and what that insecurity means for the future.
The growing sexualization of young people (especially young women) is a notable social evil in our society . A large part of what drives these trends is imitation–young girls want to be like and look like slightly older girls on up into adulthood, and so the behavior of young women tends to be copied by their younger peers rather quickly and to rather alarming levels as people try to model adult behaviors long before reaching adulthood themselves. When these models are good, modeling righteous and godly behavior can have a great deal of impact on younger people who are inspired to copy, but when these models are evil that evil can rapidly spread (along with its effects) because of the copying that tends to result from those who are younger and very interested in being seen as mature and grown up, whatever that happens to mean in a particular culture or society.
As a young man who is not as young as I used to be, I am generally aware that however young ladies dress or behave for attention and praise (and usually that means dressing or behaving immodestly), they are not usually doing so for me specifically. A substantial amount of the self-esteem and self-worth that many young women have is tied in to their perception of how attractive they are seen by men of interest to them. I often struggle myself with how to best help a young woman feel better and more confident about herself given the sort of anxiety I have myself about not creeping out people who may not wish to hear honest complements from me. We may wish only to impress one person or a small group of people through our dress and behavior, but such behavior in public will tend to draw notice and attention (whether wanted or unwanted) from a variety of people, whether it is peers and rivals, family members, and many others (even strangers), and much of that attention may be negative and unwanted. It is difficult to send an intended message to someone without sending a lot of unintentional messages at the same time, as our means of communication are rarely so precise as we would like it to be.
I would wish that young people in general (and I suppose I ought to be classed among them) could draw strength and comfort from their strength of character, and not need to depend on physical attraction as a sign of one’s dignity and worth as a human being. Beauty is a gift (one we all wish to have received in greater degrees), but it is a gift that comes with baggage attached. All too often the showing off of beauty too readily leads to accusations (whether fair or unfair) of sexual immorality and promiscuity, and not all of the attention it draws is positive. We are often caught between the longing we have for affection and interest from the right sort of pepole and the horror we have at the unwanted attention and interest from others who are clearly the wrong sort of people for us. Truthfully, a young woman does not need to do all that much to show she is a young woman of beauty and convey at least some level of interest to a young man–far less than the efforts that are often taken. But teaching that truth, and living by it, is a vastly more difficult matter.
Insecurity rules in our economic world as well as our social one. For example, there is increasing insecurity about the safety of money placed in the bank thanks to the example that was made of little Cyprus this week by the European Union . For those who are not aware of the problems of Cyprus, it is a little nation who draws a great deal of wealth by having been a shelter for investors and depositors from a variety of nations (including Russia). The small size of its economy relative to the large size of its banking and financial industry has made it particularly vulnerable to banking troubles in recent years, forcing it to seek a bailout and finding that its small size and evil reputation as a haven for Russian mafia money has given it little clout in securing honorable terms of help. However, the actions that are being forced on Cyprus at the present moment have a great deal of evil implications for other areas as well.
During at least the past week, the required actions by Germany for Cyprus to receive European bailout money for its banking sector have included the raiding of deposits placed in the bank. At first, there was a demand that all depositors share in the losses, and then when that solution was rejected, a plan to draw money from the largest of depositors with deposits of more than 100,000 Euros was floated. Regardless of the specifics of the final plan, bank deposits have been considered sacrosant since the 1930’s, as banks have been considered and touted as entirely safe places to deposit money. If the money that is in bank deposits can be taken from those who are holding it there in order to pay off the debts that a banking sector has acquired through its folly and misfortune, then putting money in the bank is no longer an option with 100% security, but rather one that has risk. This would mean that often ridiculed means of preserving money like hoarding it and putting it under one’s pillow or in a hole in the ground might be safer and perhaps even more profitable than putting it into the bank. This has enormous financial and behavioral implications.
Once the money that is in bank deposits is seen as vulnerable (which will happen as soon as one nation’s banks are raided to pay its debts), then it is possible that any store of money that can be tapped by a state in extremis will be seen as vulnerable. When a nation is teetering on bankruptcy, no source of money collected by its citizens or by others within its borders can be seen as sacrosanct anymore. Our personal financial health, not least our ability to hold on to wealth and resources that we have acquired, depends on the larger health of the societies that we live and participate in and regimes that we live under. If those societies are in desperate straits and those regimes are insecure, then so are we because the resources we have acquired will become collateral for the larger economic and political gambles of our societies, and when it comes time to pay the piper, our chips will be called in to pay that debt, given the present precedents that are being established. This means that everyone is potentially insecure, from the richest to the poorest. Given that Cyprus was told to take 10% of all bank deposits, no matter how small, means that no pool of capital is too small to be seen as a possible part of a solution to a government deeply in debt. The implications of that predatory state power in the attempt to rescue foolish and risky financial sectors who were endangered by their own behavior are immense and unpleasant, and they make life more insecure for everyone.
Ultimately, this world does not provide a great deal of security. Those things which we seek after for security often tend to be illusory, and the foundation that is provided by them is shifting and shaking because the security of any part of this world depends on the security of the whole. Wherever there is insecurity, people tend to behave in ways that end up provoking the insecurities of others. In the absence of trust and faith, life becomes increasingly difficult and unprofitable. Even those who have faith must be capable of understanding that the protection provided does not allow us to escape entirely from the folly and misbehavior of our peers, for we are all vulnerable to changes in law and behavior not because we are wicked, but because we are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time by being inhabitants of wicked societies in evil times.