In what seems like a pretty significant eternity ago (about two months), we reviewed our fledgling blog and talked about threats and risk--what we had covered so far, what we expected to cover in the future, and what we hoped we would never have to cover. An example of the first was the Paris terrorist attacks; the second, earthquakes; the third, an EMP.
Some threats by their very nature are overt--such as flooding. You know when you're being flooded. Some are more covert--climate change. We've ignored decades of indicators of climate change, and only now that low-lying communities around the world are beginning to subside beneath the sea, droughts are causing wars, and so on, do we begin to realize and acknowledge that we should have started taking action long ago, and we're way behind the power curve.
Today's topic is one that didn't make the list at all--Breakdown of Civil Society. Yet, we've been talking about the issue all along from various directions and perspectives. These specific discussions talk about threats that are indicative that our system of society is breaking down:
At the same time, we've also offered solutions--solutions that emphasize our craft and the heroes that enable it:
So what went missing?
What went missing is, in a word, politics. The hatred, intolerance, and vitriol that has been building in our society towards our government, our political systems, and essentially anyone that disagrees with us appears to be approaching a dangerous level, arguably not seen since 1968--which, if we don't start making the right choices soon, may well degrade our society to a condition that may be completely dysfunctional. Consider these symptoms:
- A political faction of our federal legislature is willing to shut down our government to prevent poor Americans from being covered by health care insurance, or from allowing women affordable access to gender-specific health care.
- A political faction of our federal legislature is unwilling to fulfill its constitutional mandate to fully staff the Supreme Court--an institution that is indispensable to our free society.
- A political faction of the State of Michigan has poisoned a generation of Flint children, and decries all responsibility for having done so.
- A political faction of the State of Louisiana has so completely mismanaged state resources that the university system--including the flagship Louisiana State University--may go bankrupt before Spring is over.
- A political faction of the State of Kansas has so completely mismanaged the state government that they are now trying to eliminate the independence of the Judiciary branch to keep from being held accountable.
- A political faction of the State of Texas will now allow students to carry handguns in classrooms.
What could possibly go wrong?
Obviously, a lot can go wrong--and is going wrong as we speak. One only has to look at mass shooting statistics to understand that something is horribly wrong in our country--something that will impact the mission, at some point or another, of every emergency management professional everywhere.
Next time, I'll explore how these political dysfunctions are eroding our society--and what we need to do about it. What we need to do about it will challenge every emergency manager to become a manifestation of his or her better self--a self driven by integrity; with an ingrained, inflexible, objective sense of right and wrong, and an understanding of the need to do right; and an unwavering commitment to his and her served public that depends on them for safety and security.