On High Alert

October 2018

It used to be fascinating to sit and people watch at the mall. Now Facebook is the mall and all we need to do is scroll from the comfort of our arm chairs to see the tomfoolery that is the average American on a rant. Case in point is the Presidential Alert that went out yesterday as apart of FEMA’s Emergency Management System.

Most of us can still recall that jarring beep and color bars that used to interrupt the best part of a beloved television show just to tell us that the Emergency Response System was conducting a drill.

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Photo Credit FEMA.gov

“If this had been an actual emergency,” a recorded voice would go on to say, “you would be provided with directions on how to proceed.”

For as many times as I was interrupted by one of these drills, I always asked myself How would I be directed? What might those directions entail? Is everyone getting this message? The questions would go on and on depending on how bored I was. As traditional television shows get replaced by reality antics on the web, the old use of the alert system is obsolete. In fact, most of us have all but forgotten how the government used to remind us of their presence, and their advertised warnings. Where have these alerts been in the past decade?

No need to even ponder that last question because the answer is obvious. The emergency alert drill, just like every fire drill, tornado drill, or intruder alert we practice in school was a preventative measure. A way of making sure the system worked just in case. It was a bit of an insurance policy. I guess that wasn’t a top priority in our previous administration until 2016 when Obama directed FEMA to create a cell phone based broadcast. Now, people in every state are up in arms because the alert that came across their cell phones had the word “presidential” attached to it.

Almost immediately, the jokes and outrage pop up on social media because (1) some people actually think the government doesn’t have their cell phone number; and (2) they don’t support our President. In either view, it is a case of a house of cards. A position built on the wind not blowing — the wind is always going to blow. So to expect this ideology of not supporting the office of the presidency just because you have a personal disdain for the person working there is futile. Didn’t we get enough of this when President Obama was in office? Why do the complainers think this is different? The answer to this question might not be so easy to flush out because many of the complainers are your neighbors, co-workers, and high ranking members of our Congress.

The complainers are the people we might look up to or admire, or count on. The division being caused by the act of allowing personal messiness to creep into the stability of the country over something as simple as an emergency alert is the asinine. But it does prove the point that people listen to how you say something more than they listen to what you are actually saying. If the FEMA alert didn’t contain the word “president” it may have actually achieved what it was sent to do without adding another layer to the pile we have festering in the political arena now. Obviously, the folks at FEMA didn’t consider this and we’re left trying to cipher through the aftermath of what should have been a 60 second interruption to a television show.

Lisa Noël Babbage

Lisa Noel Babbage is a author, teacher, and patriot who is dedicated to rebuilding communities through philanthropy and activism.

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