To talk about feeling safe in an unsafe world, I’m going to use a very reductive model of the universe. This is admittedly oversimplified, but it’s useful as a starting point: A profound psychological need that we have as human beings is a sense of safety. We yearn for safety. To some extent, this is the result of evolution.

Our distant ancestors who were more attuned to danger were much more likely to pass their genes down. And as a consequence of thousands of generations of human beings, the result is that we are a profoundly anxious species. And a sense of safety is necessary for us to overcome that anxiety and get on with our daily functioning.


This is also the result of what we might think of as the curse of consciousness. Consciousness offers many advantages, but it also renders us aware of our mortality in a way that other animal species are not.

Certain intelligent animals–elephants, ravens, some species of whale–do seem to indicate an awareness of death, but it seems unlikely that they’re aware of their impending individual mortality. [1] We as human beings suffer under that burden uniquely, and so creating a sense of safety around us is profoundly important and yet often difficult