There is a Kroger within walking distance of my workplace. It’s actually quite close. If you’re unfamiliar with Kroger, it’s a grocery store chain. Having a Kroger in such close proximity to where I’m generally at 40 hours a week makes it easy to stop in and pick up a few items for dinner, etc. A while back I noticed a new addition to our neighborhood store…..a security guard. He stands in the front area. I’m not certain as to whether he’s armed. I have heard talk of robberies and other tales of thievery happening over there. I’m don’t know if his presence is a deterrent or not.
Yesterday I walked in, headed for the in-store PNC Bank, and noticed the security guard on duty drinking soda out of a two liter. Mind you, not a can, not a Sonic fountain drink, a two liter bottle. I found this a bit odd. I realize it’s warm out. Maybe he needs something to help him stay cool and hydrated. But a two liter? Whether or not it’s a valid reason, it seemed to solidify in my mind that the security guard is not a legitimate keeper of the peace, but a symbol. Basically, a guy to stand there in a suit.
I read this today in Common Prayer:
Contemporary theologian Scott Bader-Saye has written, “Following Jesus will mean surrendering the power that masquerades as security in order to love the neighbor and welcome the stranger. It will mean avoiding the safe path in order to pursue the good. But in a culture of fear, we find such risks all the more difficult since our natural inclinations lead us to close in on ourselves when we face danger. How can we maintain the posture of the open hand toward a world that scares us?”
Last week I attended my son’s college orientation. During a parent session with the Director of Campus Police, a dad asked if Tasers are allowed on campus. He apparently has a daughter and is concerned for her safety. The Director kindly told him “no”, then proceeded to assure the dad and the rest of us the campus is relatively safe. I understand we as parents want our children to be safe. But goodness, do we maybe take it too far?
I’m reading TransAtlantic. Much of the storyline has to do with peace and/or lack thereof in Ireland. Before that, I read A Thousand Splendid Suns. It centers on Afghanistan. Trust me, there’s a lot of history, a lot of war, a lot of junk leading up to recent conflicts in both these places [but you most likely knew that]. It’s hard as an American to even come close to grasping centuries of hate and fighting. Not to mention intense poverty coupled with religious bigotry. And not the kind of religious bigotry many minds go to revolving around Chick fil A and Hobby Lobby and whether or not churches need to pay taxes. It’s a few steps beyond that sort of thing in much of the world.
Which makes me curious as to why we need a security guard at the grocery store. Or at the library. I suppose it’s, for the most part, so we’ll feel safe. I don’t believe these guys are truly equipped to squelch a true ruckus. Yet, like Bader-Saye, I have to agree we’re living in a “culture of fear”. I like what he says: “following Jesus will mean surrendering the power that masquerades as security”.
Power that masquerades as security. An interesting statement, since really, we have very little power over anything. At least long term. Our power is temporary at best, and if it’s only masquerading, well then it’s fairly worthless.
Avoiding the safe path in order to pursue the good. That’s what following Jesus equals. If you’re with Him, you’re not on the safe path. That’s understood. And while comforting as it is to walk with Him, it’s unsettling in a way, because who knows? Who knows what might happen as we risk all to pursue the good?
It’s interesting to me that our society places so much stock in the powerful and very little in surrendering. I suppose the reason is we like to feel secure.