One of the many odd things I ponder is how it is that neighborhoods and condominiums and apartment complexes can better fortify themselves. One might think of this as something that is completely ridiculous, but in the world that we live in it is something that has to be considered. Some complexes and areas are clearly focused on security, and feature limited means of access in and out, while others make it possible to easily enter anywhere there is a stairwell, which makes for maximum convenience but not a lot of security. And indeed, that is a common trade-off. The more ways one can enter into a given area, the more convenient it is, but that convenience is inversely proportional to its defensibility. In places where sites must be defended, there are obvious places that one looks to build, namely on heights and hilltops where one has the advantage of being able to rain down fire and projectiles on an enemy that must move uphill disadvantageously. Also, water sources are of vital importance because a place that has lost control of water is not going to survive a long siege, that’s for sure.
What would make a contemporary neighborhood or complex feel the need to defend itself? We live in a world of great divides between different groups of people, and that tends to create a situation where it is frequently necessary to feel a need to defend oneself, even though there are consequences. One cannot see gated communities or see multiple layers of fencing without recognizing the need for defense. People pay a fair amount of money in terms of HOA fees as well as the inconvenience of having to punch in passwords to get in the gates in order to feel safe. That is not done for no reason. Even if it is not always easy to articulate the reasons why someone feels it necessary to live in a defended sort of community, such a feeling is easy enough to recognize and it communicates itself in a variety of means, including a willingness to snitch on people who break the rules by parking in the wrong places or do something else that is contrary to the rules. After all, it is people whose behavior is outside the norm that tend to draw negative attention from others, and the feeling that one needs to be defended.
Yet the most dangerous threats are not the most obvious ones. If you look like you know where you are and where you are going few people are going to think of you as out of place even if they don’t happen to recognize you very well. And if you look like you know what you’re doing and you in fact happen to be up to no good, the results are predictable and lamentable. Most security depends on seeing what does not belong, and those who are able to look like they belong have a great advantage when it comes to dealing with security efforts. Of course, not all people who look like they belong actually do belong, which is the subject of a great many security lessons. And not all of those who look out of place are out of place. Our eyes play tricks on us and what we take for granted often requires more investigation. But we still feel safer with walls and gates and a sense of separation from the dangerous world outside, and that is not a misguided feeling.