On Security, Freedom, and Familiarity

I think freedom and security are mutually antagonistic. I prefer freedom over security, given the choice, but I recognize that I am better suited than most to live with a lower level of security. I think I understand some of the reasons why many personality types prefer security over freedom; mothers want to protect their children, type B personalities don’t like to make a lot of decisions, and in time many people tire of the endless, competitive rat race and the constant stress that comes from exercising free will. Looking from another angle, we might just be drawn to security because we are drawn to the familiar, and security feels familiar while freedom does not.

Not everyone likes to exercise free will; many people I’ve known over the years bristle at the mere suggestion that there are options, and not just options regarding serious, long held views. As a bartender I’ve seen angry reactions to being forced to drink the wrong brand of cola, and some customers will not stay unless they can sit in a certain chair, drink from a certain glass, and even have the exact same napkin pattern in front of them. I can pour a drink for almost every one of my regulars without asking them what they want, and I am given the news in no uncertain terms if I don’t have the correct program on the television, even when the volume is off and the bar is full of scantily clad young women.

I think there is an ingrained reflex inside of us that creates this attraction toward the familiar. It might be as simple as nature selecting for infants who recognize their mother’s nipple, or part of our ongoing need to simplify our lives in an increasingly complicated world.

Thinking about my own habits and tendencies, I am as extreme as my bar customers. I have been obsessed my entire driving life with not taking left turns, and parking where I don’t have to back out. I will go out of my way to avoid both, and if I am not able to I feel anger and anxiety rise up inside me. I’ve even skipped an errand, or driven to a different store, to avoid backing out or taking a left turn.

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