Recently, this Tweet went viral:

Now, of course @GoodPoliticGuy is one of my favourite follows, but I really did stop and think about this tweet for a while, because of its relationship to what I (plan to) study. And that topic is security – more specifically, what is “security” and how should we look at it?

What is “security”?

Quite literally, security is defined as freedom from risk or danger, something that secures or makes safe, or precautions taken to guard against crime, attack, sabotage, espionage, etc. Most often, people associate security with visible, tangible things: fences, CCTV cameras, guards, passwords, military, weapons, etc.

Now I don’t think that looking at security through the lens of the military or security cameras is wrong, just a bit misguided.

Take the idea that security is “freedom from risk or danger” – that’s kind of how we look at the term “financial security”, where one is free from the risk or danger of bad financial moments. This is in the same realm of how I look at things, but with a much broader perspective.

How We Should Look at Security

I’m biased with my own opinion (of course), but I think we need to look at security in a more all-encompassing manner, where “security” is more inclusive of mental stability and security. And this is precisely what I wanted to get at with the embedded Tweet above: security can be many things, but it’s the feeling of being secure in your life, with the ability to have issues be easily resolved because of the infrastructure and social safety nets present.

This is where broadband access, high-speed rail, climate-prepared infrastructure, mental health supports, universal basic incomes, etc. all help. I’m not one to say that we should get rid of the various military of the world, but I think we are trapped in this endless cycle of attempting to find a problem that they can solve. Having a “solution” in search of a “problem” can lead us down some dangerous paths (and never-ending increases to military budgets). Instead, we need to better recognize the multifaceted nature of security, without going on all on “everything needs to be secured”. (None of this is to say that there is no problems in the world, just that there’s plenty of history where we created problems to jive with the solutions we thought we had. Bad idea.)

Increasing supports for things like mental health and investing in climate-adapted infrastructure to mitigate potential impacts will increase “security” in that people will feel more secure in knowing they have the support of the state in whatever they decide to do, however they’d like to do it.

Increasing funding for traditional “security” doesn’t resolve underlying issues that are directly related to the need for those traditional security measures – it’s like trying to address the health of a population by increasing the amount of doctors, nurses, support staff, and hospital beds, without considering the underlying social determinants of health (which could also be used as a proxy for security).

I hope I’ve made you think a bit – this theme is one of the central themes that guides my work and studies.


Until next time,