Is the feeling of security the absence of threats, or the knowledge of how to identify and deal with the threats? Or, is it a conscious choosing of the threat environment and then a compromise between the two?
From inside out, in target shaped concentric circles, one has at the bull's eye individual and personal space and vulnerabilities, where the human body is at risk. Moving out, one has the family unit, the local environment (town), and finally the outer limits of country and hemisphere. These are the layers of need and by implication, the targets of threats.
Crime-on-persons starts with environments of opportunistic theft driven by disparity of wealth and envy as justifications. Moving up the violence scale, one has petty crime, burglary, armed robbery, murder, natural disasters and environmental catastrophe, organized pathological crime of drug lords and terrorists, social unrest and societal unraveling made worse by naivete, dependency and blind vulnerability, economic meltdown and loss of faith in financial systems, full fledged terrorist nuclear attacks and radiation fallout leading to fascism and authoritarianism.
So, are you feeling as vulnerable as an "open oyster before the lemon falls?"* As an individual who wants to protect self and immediate family, first you do not put yourself in harm's way. You do not move to tornado alley or settle on the Arizona/Mexico border. You do not live in areas of the world where there is social unrest (Palestine), war torn fabric (Afghanistan), or classic dependency on uninterrupted trade (Hawaii).
Secondarily, you are cognizant of potential hazards and you take personal responsibility for your safety and defense. You practice situational awareness (SA) and surveillance detection (SD). You are SAFE (skeptical, aware, flexible and explosive). You are trained at threat avoidance (stay away from dangerous spots) and threat assessment (codes: oblivious, green, yellow, red and frozen), and then behaviors that fit the situation (flight, acquiesce, fight). These might include martial art self defense and weapons training.
Taking personal responsibility, making informed choices and having concrete plans of action that fit any given, properly assessed, situation all lead to peace of mind.
Lincolnville, Maine - Cuenca, Ecuador
44*16'48"N 69*00'35"W (63 ft.) - 2*52'52"S 79*04'19"W (9024 ft.)
Lincolnville: This northeast corner of the United States is beautiful and safe. We have grown up without any concern for personal safety, and only recently have begun to lock our cars and houses. Petty and violent crime is almost nonexistent, and that which exists is generally confined within acquaintance circles. SA and SD are unheard of and our children grow up to be oblivious to danger (I call it the insulation penalty).
We are free of natural disasters (but for an occasional hurricane) and are not bothered by drought, wild fires, mud slides or tornados. We are, however, economically dependent on uninterrupted trade. We import heating fuel and food. The climate is such that half the year we are vulnerable to power outages. If the electricity goes out in the winter, pipes freeze and social upheaval begins (though we are a local society of good samaritans).
We are in the corner of the country that is not specifically targeted by military or terrorist groups, but we are close enough, and downwind, to be adversely affected by radiation fallout.
If society were to unravel, we in Maine are vulnerable to changes in social behavior and environmental discomforts caused by interrupted services.
Cuenca: Cuenca is off the terrorist map. Until recently (this needs to be assessed), Ecuador has been off the drug trade path. While Ecuador has limited violent crime and the lowest homicide rate in the western hemisphere, the large cities of Guayaquil and Quito are becoming more violent with the influx of Colombians and a rising incident of "express kidnappings." Cuenca has been insulated from these trends, but one can expect some rise in serious crime. Because of the lack of social services and "safety nets," there is opportunistic petty theft which very seldom turns violent.
Cuenca is not, however, susceptible to disruption of services. Personal environmental comfort is not dependent on electrical service or food delivery. If the power goes off, no one is dramatically affected. Food is grown locally, year round. The fabric of society is rough, tough, resilient and durable.
We are moving from a crime free but vulnerable (to external threats such as terrorist induced interruption of services and societal fray if there are economical and/or political upheavals) living situation to a culture impervious to disruptions but containing petty crime and the need for honing security skills.
It is my assessment that we can give no greater gift to our children than to prepare them for a rough and tumble world where they are comfortable and personally responsible for their own safety. There are layers and levels of threat. Life is either a naive or conscious series of decisions that balance the mix of threats. By choice or inaction, we make compromises that result in living situations that bring various levels of comfort and peace of mind.
Trading expensive, safe and beautiful but vulnerable Maine for durable, culturally deep Cuenca, which requires additional SAFE training, is the right move.
SEGURIDAD, una compania que viene a Cuenca, Ecuador
mas rapido, mas barato, mejor
* Theodore St. Aubyn