The danger of safety

Word of warning: This post is about comfort. You may feel un-comfortable while reading.


Two weeks ago I wrote about living in between, about the unhappy space where I live, a place in which I have a dream, goal or destination floating somewhere in front of me, and yet I do nothing to move towards it.

This “ah-ha” led me to the conclusion my motivating values do not match my stated values, in that I am motivated by something other than what I claim to be.

For me, the values most true and evident in my life were fear, comfort and laziness. It was disheartening, to say the least, to realize these weak and powerless motives and desires were CEOs of my everyday existence. But ironically I’ve been too comfortable to change.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been acutely aware of my love for comfort, and believe me, I am uncomfortable now. I think God is pressing the issue.

Last week I talked with a Soldier who grew up in an urban area in the South where violence was the norm, where gunfire and other life-ending measures settled disputes on a regular basis. He lost his first friend at age seven.

He told me it is unfair so many people in the world controlled their access to global unrest and poverty with the click of a remote. If they wanted to, they can simply shut off the TV and ignore the problems, he mused. “But some of us live there, and we can’t ignore it.”

I immediately saw in the mirror the many nights I’ve read news of atrocities committed on our soil and abroad. I signed a petition, retweeted an article, shouted a call to action. And then I turned off the light and went to bed. Outside my house no gunfire echoed through the streets, no screaming for help, no sirens.
But perhaps what is worse than my love of comfort is the safety I pack around me makes me safe. Creates in me a preference for the moderate, for 70 degree temperatures and sunshine, for the indoors, for well-manicured everything. My desires for comfort and safety weaken my ability to innovate and increase my whininess. They strip me of change agent status. 

They make me “un-dangerous”.

Most of us want to know we are not in danger as we walk around, that we are not about to get robbed or shot. I think this should be a right for all humans, although it certainly isn’t a reality for a majority of the world.

But what about all the other convenience features of our lives: dishwashers and warm showers, functional cars, indoor plumbing, a closet just for shoes, a cup of coffee every morning?

We claim we cannot live without these amenities, and we loudly bellyache if it is ever required. The inability to live without the extras, the things beyond food, water, shelter and air, seems to be more a sign of a maladaptive state of being than a badge of success.

photo credit: http://www.wyndsongwrites.com

In our middle and upper-class American bubble today, we are snugly unaware, insulated, bubble wrapped from a hurting world that knows the feeling of a dirt floor in their bedroom, and wonders if they will have enough food to eat tomorrow.

The sound of war and pestilence are foreign to us. We simply shut off the television. We can close our laptops, safe from the dangers of the world. 

But the safety comes with a price. Now that we are safe from the world, the world is now safe from us. We are no longer dangerous.

Think about it. What life-changing invention ever came from a man on a couch who said, “Ah, this is great. I have everything I need. I am perfectly comfortable”? 

Looking back at great innovation, we don’t see a trail of people without problems at the helm. We clearly see lack, a sense of something missing, as a creation motivation. Pain and hardship are excellent inventors themselves.   
So I’m here writing this, painfully aware of my comfort, and suddenly, very uncomfortable. 

I want to be dangerous again, but I’ll admit I’m still terrified of what it will cost. Because I know that on a good day, it will cost my comfort. I will have to hand over my complacency. But it could cost me more.

Is being dangerous, being effective, being an envelope-pusher, a creator, an idea-generator, a problem-solver worth it? These people stand out on the edge near the issues. And the issues are inherently uncomfortable. They feel like world hunger and look like war orphans and widows. 

There’s no room for complacency here. There is only work to be done, and room for people who will do it. 

Something to think about: 
What are you compromising so you can be comfortable? 

What ideas and innovation have you missed because you have to start our day with coffee and the news? 

What parts of God do we overlook because it takes discomfort to see it?
{The topics of discomfort, waiting and the ability to change the world are eating me up this week. At least one more post is coming on this topic. Perhaps more. I am uncomfortable now. Thanks, God.}
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