There are all kinds of security in the world. There are the kind that come in the form of locks, alarms, cameras, guard dogs, bars on windows, fences and rent-a-cops. Those types of security are designed to keep people out, and sometimes, to keep people in. There’s the kind that are peddled on Wall Street by greedy assholes who don’t give a damn about anything but the bottom line. There’s the secret or national kind which tortures people in the name of keeping us dumb spoon-fed Americans safe from terrorists. There’s the kind that makes us take off our shoes and throw away perfectly good lighters before boarding a plane. There are all kinds of security that can be bought or sold to make people feel safe or trapped or secure in their investment, but that’s not the kind I’m talking about. I’m talking about the intangible type; the kind that can’t be bought or sold. I’m talking about the sense of security; the kind that lets you sleep at night free from worry.

On the way home just now, I was making a right turn onto my quiet, residential street and there was a mother and a child about to cross the street onto which I was turning. I saw them half a block away, and regardless of what the state laws said, I had already decided that I was going to stop and let them cross before going on my merry way. I was in no rush. The child was maybe five years old and holding her mother’s hand. When they reached the intersection, she didn’t look right or left, but took one step into the street before her mother gently pulled her hand back when she saw me and my turn signal. The mother looked at me, I gave her the “go ahead” hand gesture and they walked across the street. I watched them in my rear view ambling over to the park, no doubt to get some ice cream, and there was a smile on the child’s face. That’s the security I’m talking about.

I’m talking about that big, safe hand that will gently guide you on your way and show you how things need to be done. The security of a child knowing that her mother will try to do what’s best for her, no matter what. The blind willingness of the child to let her mother even make that decision with no argument or fuss. There’s not enough of that kind of security these days. It made me glad to see it, even briefly, displayed in a child’s smile. It made my heart ache for those of us who don’t have that. That is one lucky little girl.

However, because it seems to be the way of the world, all too soon, that child will encounter bad things and her shiny security will begin to rust. It will become tarnished and dull until the chrome is gone completely if it’s not looked after properly. She will realize that there are, in fact, very bad people in the world. She might even think that the same person that she allows to make those bold decisions about her welfare today, could be one of them.

I hope that’s not the case. I hope that little girl doesn’t lose her shine. I hope that her mother will prepare her for a world that has so many bad people and bad things. I hope that when those bad things start to pull her by the hand in an unsafe direction, she will recognize the danger and go her own way. I hope that girl never has a reason to lose her security, but I find it hard to believe that she won’t because the world contains such horrible things. I hope I’m just being overly dramatic and cynical, but I find it hard to believe she will maintain her security because I was once that little girl, too.

There once was a time when I tried to cross the street without looking right or left, and my own mother’s hand pulled me gently back. There was a time when I trusted that big hand implicitly. I had a shine, too, and that big, safe hand was doing its best to protect me, but no matter how hard the hand tried, it couldn’t shelter me forever. And then, my own hand grew big, too.

Still, I was glad to see that same, familiar sense of security in that smile on the little girl. It’s nice to know that the big hand is still there for someone. I can’t see it myself now, but it was nice to recognize it in others. It made me grateful that security still exists in a world with so much evil and wrong. It made me petulant that there isn’t more of it. I guess it just has to suffice that security is with us at all anymore, albeit too briefly, and that everyone starts off with a clean slate. We all start off with the innocence of a child. It’s just a matter of how long we can keep it. We all get the chance to experience it even for a little while, even if it’s just for a moment when crossing the street.