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Paris in Perspective

Paris in Perspective

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We have been reminded once again this week that our civilization, rightly or wrongly, inspires some citizens to conduct unspeakable and inhumane violence against fellow citizens. On behalf of all humanity, we add our condolences to those who have suffered loss and pain due to recent events.

In scanning the news, one will find many explanations for what happened. These include, but are not limited to: inherently evil people following an evil agenda; a war of one religion against another for supremacy; a war of the have-nots vs. the haves; destruction of a society due to nonrenewable resource depletion–water, cropland, etc.–that has caused a mass migration of climate refugees.

All of these may be correct to some degree, but none of them capture the big picture, the context, or the complexity of events that resulted in this ultimate tragedy. Nor would that be possible here in this short space–in the end, volumes of books will be written on the incident, and likely none of them will fully capture the incident and provide comprehensive solutions either. So in this venue, let’s focus on those things that emergency managers will have to know and recognize in order to deal with a divided political reality, frightened citizens, and the challenges of planning for the unknowable.

As a military EM professional, you will likely continue to do what you’re already doing–conducting warfare against those that may have organized, or will in the future organize similar events. In other roles, you may be asked to be those boots on the ground that do the same on a more personal and dangerous level.

As a government EM professional, you will encounter two separate and distinct philosophies with regard to how to deal with what happened. One philosophy will be dedicated to spinning up the military response, while the other will be working to address the root causes–both will compete for your time and resources, and achieving a balance may require all of your professional skill.

As a community EM official, you will mostly be dealing with a frightened public that is looking for you to tell them that they’re safe. Of course, given the realities of our society, you can’t do that with certainty. But what you can do is engage the community, improve your planning and mitigation efforts, prepare to achieve a quick and competent response to any type of active shooter event, and be a comforting, competent public presence to those who need you to be just that.

And finally, as Americans, we can all remember that we are citizens of that Shining City on the Hill, and act accordingly. We have throughout our history fought through our fears to welcome those who flee oppression in their native lands, and to welcome them with open hearts and open arms. We need to continue to do that, because if we don’t, then we have truly lost the battle to those with the evil in their hearts.

Photo Credit: Photo by Eldar Kamalov / Public Domain (CC0)

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American Military University
Randall Cuthbert

Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as ... learn more

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