The original force behind the formation of countries, what are called Nation States or just nations, was the need for security (safety). In Europe, modern nations started to come into existence in the second millennium. Until that time families, groups, tribes were the basic unit for security. Unfortunately anytime a stronger group came along they could take over your group. The situation was similar to the Afghan "warlord" arrangement.
These warlords, continually roamed about, threatening isolated groups. This led to several groups in one area joining in formal or informal alliances to provide mutual protection from these warlords.
As these groups became larger and more organized they eventually became a nation. Thus, the basic reason for nations is to provide security for its citizens. This is why we're still reacting so strongly as a nation to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Citizens demand security.
At the next levels down, our states, counties and cities, we also demand security - safety - as a primary product. Locally, our police and fire departments are our biggest city expense. Our water and sewer services, which provide basic health safety, are next in line. All other departments could be considered "quality of life" functions.
How much of our desire to accumulate wealth is simply a search for economic security that isn't guaranteed by government? Economic security allows us to buy a home in an area considered safe for our children and in a school district that provides quality education. Our old age seems more secure if we have the resources to pay for health care. Security, where physical threat isn't an issue, may be as simple as not having anxiety about day to day living.
Handgun owners cite the need for security as the a reason to possess guns. SUV owners cite the added safety an SUV provides to its occupants (their family) as a reason to drive the large vehicle. Strangely enough, the search for security by these two groups often endangers others.
Guns get stolen and used in crimes, or they get used in times of passion and cause innocent people to die. SUV's run into and over smaller vehicles, causing deaths to others. I wonder how many SUV owners are anti gun and don't understand the motivation of gun owners. And vice versa.
SUV and gun owners protect themselves (provide security) in ways that cause innocent others to be maimed or killed. We have protected ourselves since 9/11 in ways that have caused innocent Afghans and Iraqies to be maimed or killed. Security in its basic purpose is survival. Survival is a basic animal motivation. No one feels any need to be rational when they believe their personal survival may be at stake. And it gets very personal.
While we were all shocked, appalled, angered by the events of 9/11on the east coast, remember how that became secondary for a few weeks when the possibility that random anthrax attacks that might hurt us or our families were in the headlines? There were suggestions in the newspapers and on TV about how to screen mail. Suggestions that would be meaningless if many hadn't actually been afraid of a random anthrax letter in their mailbox.
We are so far from physical danger in our every-day lives that many can focus on a "threat" from herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics in animals, genetically modified foods, auto fumes, perfume, etc. as their major concern. Extremely wealthy people can worry about robbery or abduction. We all have something that makes us "anxious", and so we can worry about that as a threat to our security.
Everyones fears are frightening to themselves even if no one else thinks so. Frankiln Deleno Roosevelt's words, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself", could very well be applied to the current terrorist threats.