Miles Jaye

Do you feel safe? Do you feel safe when you’re out and about, jogging or driving along highways, city streets or back roads? If you’re African American, do you feel safe driving while Black? Are you safe in your home? Are you safe in church, or at a concert, or at Starbucks? Do you have cause or occasion to worry about your safety or that of your loved ones? What makes one feel unsafe… crime, Covid, the police, the government, Karen? 

What does it mean to be safe?  Perhaps, simply put, to be safe is to be free from harm or danger. To feel safe is to be free from the threat of harm or danger. Notice the subtle distinction. Is feeling safe the same as being safe? With holidays looming right around the corner, how important is it to be safe? Equally important, with holidays looming right around the corner, how important is it to feel safe? 

Is it possible to enjoy the holiday season without feeling safe? If safety is a function of security, what of financial security? Do you have money to spend for Christmas gifts? Can you afford a traditional holiday feast? Can you take the kids for a holiday trip to visit grandma and grandpa? Can you afford to fly grandma and grandpa to visit you? Can you afford a holiday vacation? Can you afford a full tank of gas? Why do Americans experience the highest rate of drug use, DUI’s, and suicides during the holidays? 

What of health security? If you live in Flint, is your tap water safe for drinking and holiday cooking? Is the water in your hometown safe? With current supply chain issues, is your food supply safe? How safe do you feel traveling about the country with the threat of Covid looming? How many shots have you had, one, two, three? Feeling safe yet? With flight delays caused by winter storms, I spent 12 hours in airports from Ft. Wayne, Indiana to Chicago to Jacksonville, Florida, wearing my mask the entire journey. 

My KN95 mask didn’t make me feel safe, I felt trapped. I didn’t dare remove the mask in travel, but I couldn’t wait to snatch it from my face when I finally exited the airport at my destination. The experience was miserable, which begs the question, can you feel unsafe and be happy at the same time? Is it possible to be at peace while feeling fear and anxiety? No, it’s not! 

I liken the feeling, the perception of safety, to an actual safe, a keeper of valuables– things important to you as keepsakes as well as important documents. A safe protects your valuables– photos, jewelry, wills, marriage and death certificates, contracts, passports, etc., from fire and flood damage and from theft. A safe can make you rest more easily, assured that your belongings are protected. A state of emotional and psychological security comes with a sense that all that is important to you, all who are important to you, are safe. 

Too many people live in a constant state of anxiety and fear. They therefore are denied what we, as Americans, were promised– the pursuit of happiness. All Americans should feel safe. Every American should be equally protected from the threat of harm or danger. Is that not the presumed American blueprint? We should all feel a sense of financial security, health security, food security, education, and opportunity security. No American should fear the government, the police, or overzealous, vigilante neighbors.

I’m saddened and sickened by the thought of the fear and uncertainties my mother must have suffered while raising three kids in Brooklyn, as a single parent. I can’t imagine her anxiety and how much she must have worried about the three of us. Would she feel safe today with a government attempting to deny her right to vote? Would she feel safe knowing that on any given day or night her sons might have a fatal encounter with the police? Would the January 6th riot make her feel safe? Would the nightly news make her feel safe?

Do your children feel safe? Ask them! Does your husband feel safe? Ask him! Does your wife feel safe? Ask her! Do your elderly parents feel safe? Ask them! Do your neighbors feel safe? Ask them! Discuss it with them. Do your schoolteachers feel safe? Ask them! Do your school board members feel safe? Ask them! Do your local police officers feel safe? Ask them, and if not, ask them why. Safety should be a civil right, a human right, and we should all feel safe, be safe, otherwise, how can there be peace?

That’s what’s on my mind!



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