This is NOT a test. It’s an affront to reason.

I’m old enough to remember when the US and the USSR stood poised on the brink of nuclear war, and warnings like this regularly interrupted commercial radio broadcasts. I remember, too, cowering under school desks with classmates—the officially sanctioned method by which children warded off thermonuclear bombs.

When government officials urge us to be fearful, we should always ask why. Why do those in charge find a fearful citizenry so convenient?

Cowering under desks doesn’t save children from nuclear war. Cancelling schools doesn’t make winter safer. Interrupting a provincial workday with shrill telephone alerts doesn’t keep imaginary terrorists at bay, or make flood waters recede.

Fifteen weaponized Halifax police officers don’t storm a computer nerd’s family home to safeguard privacy; they do it to obliterate privacy. Shutting up those you disagree with doesn’t make a campus safe; it makes it vulnerable. Marking folks safe on Facebook doesn’t alleviate fear; it enhances and embeds it.

In his first inaugural address, Franklin Roosevelt asserted his, “firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is… fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Stop crying wolf. Stop pretending trivial and far-fetched risks are everyday perils. If you must fear something, fear something real. Worry about texting drivers, not great white sharks. Most of all, stop wallowing in ersatz connections to distant tragedies. We live in the safest place in the world, at the safest time in history. We must resist those who would swaddle us in fear.

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