Evil is a condition, a desire to destruct, exploit, or both. Nobody is born evil, there are reasons why people become evil over time and I won’t get into that today. You may want to check out my blog on psychoanalysis for more details. Which is why Evil will always surround us, it will never stop. So any “war on [insert Evil here]” is by default doomed to failure. “The Evil is always and everywhere” is a line from an EAV song from back in the ’80s. The context was humorous but it is true.
So how do we cope with Evil? It depends.
- Shop owners know of the marginal utility of security cameras, guards etc so they resort to a mix of deterrence (guards in menacing uniforms, visible cameras and so on) while factoring the inevitable into their price.
- On a larger scale, we all have to accept that life as it is may kill us. The chance is small unless your job involves politics or driving in New Jersey. But it is always there, and no amount of money will change your odds.
The ultimate answer to Evil is Humanity.
“The most dangerous world view is that of the man who has not viewed the world”, said German scientist Alexander von Humboldt, and he was right. Knowing each other creates familiarity, and crime rates within families are quite low. When employees feel appreciated, when they work in a small group rather than an anonymous mass of people they are less susceptible to committing crimes. Did you know you can reduce your risk of hotel room theft by 80% simply by introducing yourself in a few friendly words to the cleaning staff?
Historically, we have moved from one country quarreling with another country to more anonymous disputes where people hide behind e-mail addresses, and they use joy sticks to kill people they have never met in another part of the world. We are fed bytes of information and labels by people with an agenda rather than asking “the tough questions” ourselves. If we can manage to reverse this effect, if we can get ourselves to being more inquisitive and personally involved again, if we can create an environment of inclusion rather than retreat into our cocoons, then Evil is much less likely to show its, well, evil face.
Too abstract, you say? Okay, then let’s look at two examples from my industry. In precious metals, we distinguish between internal and external threats. External threats are break-ins and robberies from outside the plant. Internal threats are mainly theft by employees. Here is a comparison of two companies I have dealt with recently:
- Company A is a fortress. Barbed wire, closed circuit TV, at times there were guard dogs and discussions of building a moat. Employees leave all personal items in lockers when they enter. There are strict rules on what else they can take inside and they are all searched on their way out. Much like at airports, but more focused (on precious metals). You can not open any windows in this plant because someone might slingshot metal out. There is a general atmosphere of “we don’t trust anyone”. Fluctuation is quite high.
- Company B looks like most other companies you know. A friendly reception area where you are greeted by your name (for which the receptionist has a photographic memory), understated security features, an organization where people work together in small groups. There is a random check of people’s bags upon exit, mostly – I think – to please the insurance company. People are friendly, happy even to work there, and many have done so for most of their adult life.
Crime? A topic of constant concern to company A. It is on their minds in whatever they do. Company B? It’s not a topic anybody I met spends much time on. Almost nothing ever happens. The lesson? Security is all about persons, not about procedures, hard- and software. It is about a positive environment that includes instead of alienates. And while there will never be 100% security the risks will be largely diminished, and the 2% will stop dictating us 98% how to live.
Give it a chance. Be fearless. It will make you safer.