Being sane in insane places

Walking around the quaint village where we spent our holiday my youngest child commented that he feels very unsafe. When I asked him why he felt anxious he replied that there are no walls, bugler bars, armed men on street corners like in Johannesburg. How devastating to realise the irony and that the utterly insane has for a child become the norm. A normal sane safe community appears to a child who has learned to draw comfort by the sight of security measures to be frightening. It reminded me of a child who, upon observing that a fruit vendor in Europe had temporarily left his stand with a written request that patrons place the payment for the fruit in the tin provided, asked her parents what the vendor would do if South Africans came to his stall.This is an example of how security consciousness turns into insecurity consciousnesses because the context changes. It reminded me of myself. Outside an open mall in Denver, seeing a child of about 5 years old sitting alone on a staircase eating a hamburger, and feeling a sense of panic and need to find his parents as if he was under some kind of  threat. At a meeting in California, only after hurriedly packing up my things and closing the lock on my laptop bag noticing that  everybody had left lunch and left handbags, cell phones and laptops on the tables where they were working. They say that if you can keep your head about you when all around you are losing theirs then it is you who does not have a proper grasp of the situation. The opposite applies equally. We are really challenged by the task of feeling safe when all around us are living with the sense of being under siege and to pass that sense of safety on to our children.

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