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Saturday 23 July 2011

A Basic Need

What is it about this place that makes it so special? People who are native to NL obviously love it, and this summer I have heard a great deal about folks who have decided to live out their retirement in some remote little rural community. So what makes it so special, so attractive?

Our tourism commercials would have you believe it is our pace of life, our unique culture and history, and in part it is those things. It could also be our general attitude of self-reliance, despite current conversations around EI abuses and such. The size of some communities is certainly an attractive feature for some, rural and small works for some folks, while the more urban centers are just big enough to have amenities but not so large as to get lost in, and they're usually just a few minutes from a rural getaway. I happen to think that all of these things are important factors but there is one other that we only rarely talk about; safety.

When I was still in high school the only time the door to our house was locked was when we went on an extended trip. You can imagine my shock when I moved to St. John's to attend MUN and I went over to a friends house in the middle of the day and they were at home with the door locked! I was at a loss for words. Why would you ever lock your door while you were at home? As it turned out they had previous incidents where people from a local mental health facility had wandered into their home out of confusion and the locked door was a simple way to avoid future incidents. Luckily I found out that most folks, even in the big City of St. John's were still pretty trusting of their neighbours.

While we may not explicitly talk about or appreciate the importance of our perception of safety it is an incredibly important part of a happy life. If you have ever studied psychology you may remember Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. It describes a theory of the basic needs for life, and the foundation is food, shelter and such, the next level is safety. Is it any wonder why people will flee dangerous areas to live lives in poverty as seen recently in Africa? Safety is a subconscious drive to remain alive, and hungry and alive is better then full and dead. Here in NL we don't have to make that choice and it's part of what makes this place so great.

So when the media start running stories about the "soaring increase in severe crime", I recognize that while it may be true for the larger centers it is still such a rare occurrence that it makes the news every time. And if you look closely you will almost always see that the people involved already knew each other, and the incident was over money, or drugs, or both. Random violent crime is not a facet of life in NL.

So while we may still struggle with a vast number of issues in an attempt to make NL even better, we should always remember just how good we really have it. And just how great it is to live in safe and wonderful communities.

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