Oblivious to the danger behind us, my wife and I drove for several days before the awful realization.
Our two-year-old was buckled tightly into her car seat. But her car seat itself had not been buckled with the seatbelt.
We felt safe and secure every time we strapped her in. But had we crashed, that feeling of security would have been ejected and overwhelmed by unforgiving realities.
How often in life do we confuse true security with a false sense of security?
In reality, we don’t confuse the two; we choose false security because it’s easier. Achieving true security requires hard work and brutal self-honesty.
In fact, we’ll give almost anything to soothe our fears with the feeling of security — even our freedom. And in so doing, we lose the true security that can only come from accepting the responsibility of freedom.
They don’t call them “golden handcuffs” for nothing. Like Esau of old, we sell our birthright of greatness for the pottage of “safe” and cubicled mediocrity.
Oblivious to danger, we ride through life — until we’re stifled by bureaucracy, ignored by management, ejected by a crashed economy, and our feelings of safety and security are exposed as a cruel joke.
Only by embracing freedom — with all its risks — do we find real security. Not the false security imposed by “benevolent” caretakers, but the true security of resolute self-reliance and battle-hardened grit.
Tom Robbins wrote:
“Somewhere in the archives of crudest instinct is recorded the truth that it is better to be endangered and free than captive and comfortable.”
I wish I could believe in that instinct. History and current society suggest otherwise. As John Adams argued:
“The numbers of men in all ages have preferred ease, slumber, and good cheer to liberty, when they have been in competition. We must not then depend alone upon the love of liberty in the soul of man for its preservation.”
As the ancient Israelites whined to Moses:
“Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Freedom comes with a price. But so does false, misguided security. Which price are you willing to pay?
Jacob, second son of Isaac, paid the right price and became a father of nations, a prosperous prince of God. Esau? A despised footnote in history.
The ancient Athenians chose wrong, and history records the result. Historian Edward Gibbon writes:
“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”
Benjamin Franklin put it bluntly:
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
What personal Pharaohs hold you captive and extort your birthright? Fear? Pride? Laziness? Social programming? Addiction?
Are you comfortable with your Pharaohs, or are you willing to join with Patrick Henry in proclaiming, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”?
Will you sell out to false security and lose both your security and your freedom? Or are you willing to stay hungry and free through the wilderness of life until you reach the promised land?
In the absence of freedom and responsibility, security is nothing but a delusional feeling. No matter how safe you may feel, dangers much more painful and insidious than temporary hunger and economic struggle loom behind you.
Stephen Palmer is a writer and entrepreneur devoted to helping people conquer limitations, maximize their potential, and achieve true freedom.
He is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, the founder of Life Manifestos, and the author of Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen’s Guide to Rebuilding America.
He co-authored the New York Times bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity. He is also the co-author of The Conscious Creator: Six Laws for Manifesting Your Masterpiece Life.
Stephen and his wife are raising their four children in southern Utah.