Ah, innocence lost… how fun it is to be the man behind it.
We did something peculiar this week. We taught a roomful of folks how to pick a lock.
It’s a skill first taught to us by a Green Beret – a wiry old man who claimed it was far easier to pick a lock than remember where he left his keys.
We don’t disagree.
Anytime we do something like this, the questions from the class are predictable. This was no exception.
“Why would I want to pick a lock?” one man asked just minutes into our presentation. “When would this come in handy?”
Just wait and see, we replied. Once that lock pops, you’ll know what we know.
It’s true that lock picking isn’t a skill most folks use on a daily basis. The one or two times it may be truly helpful in life don’t attract a whole lot of fans to the sport.
But we say it’s not a utilitarian quest we’re on. No, it’s the symbolism behind it all.
Once folks know how easy it is to open just about any lock… they view the world differently.
Suddenly things seem a whole lot less secure. In an instant, the idea of security becomes an illusion.
The door may be locked, they now know, but it’s only keeping the honest honest.
The Grand Illusion
We may be the handiest guy at the party (and perhaps the oddest), but we also know that protecting ourselves is up to us… and not some flimsy lock.
These days, locks come in all sorts of varieties – few of them have keys.
For some, the illusion of security comes in the shape of Big Government, the police, the military or maybe the local volunteer fire department.
Sadly, like the lock on your door, these groups are often more about good looks than utility.
We look around and see examples everywhere…
Take Puerto Rico, for example. The folks there just got a rude wake-up call.
As if the storm didn’t do enough damage, the aftermath is proving far worse. Islanders are now facing a fight against disease. Some 74 people have already been diagnosed with leptospirosis – a bacterial disease caused by contact with urine-tainted water.
It could be easily prevented with just a few drops of iodine. But most folk never bothered to learn how to treat their water. That’s somebody else’s job, right?
All across the island, folks are pointing fingers and saying the government didn’t act fast enough. Now an outbreak is imminent.
Citizens assumed they were secure. It was a false assumption that killed a bunch of them.
The “lock” they counted on easily fell apart when shaken just a bit.
Or take the situation in North Korea.
We’ve all thought it… “Nukes? Meh, the Pentagon will take care of them before they ever pose a threat.”
Few Americans truly believe an attack is possible.
They don’t realize that once a rocket is in the air, a series of just 36 interceptor missiles stand between us and disaster.
Our sources tell us the Navy – with its large fleet in the western Pacific – would be the first to detect an incoming nuke.
It sounds great. But let us remind you this is the same Navy that couldn’t prevent not one but three open sea collisions this year.
If they can’t detect a ship in the night… can they detect a nuke in the air?
Perhaps. But we won’t bet our life on it.
Every Man for Himself
It sounds harsh, but we must have an “on our own” mentality. When it comes to our safety and survival, we must fend for ourselves.
Some folks or agencies may help. But when the lock is shaken, you’ll be amazed at how fast it comes apart.
We certainly don’t teach folks how to pick locks so they can get where they don’t belong. If they wanted that, they wouldn’t seek our help.
No, we teach folks how simple it is to open a lock because the skill does something peculiar in our brains. It shows us the idea of reliance on something other than ourselves creates little more than a grand illusion.
The idea of security is only in our heads.
It’s up to us to keep ourselves safe.