My son, do not forget my
teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.
Let love and faithfulness
never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your
Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on
your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
- Proverbs 3:1-6
So do not fear, for I am with
you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- Isaiah 41:10
I was half asleep last Friday night, I think. I was watching my favorite channel devoted to weather. The National Hurricane Advisory update had just been issued an hour before. The former director of the National Hurricane Center had just analyzed the report and had given a wide range of scenarios, none that were appealing. The reporters were concerned, but not in panic mode. I thought to myself that Hurricane Dorian might be a nasty one, but if people heed the warnings, they’ll be okay. What we don’t need is panic.
At 9:00pm, I was reaching for the remote to turn off the television and go to bed. The next official update wasn’t due for several hours, no new information, and I needed to sleep. For some reason, I did not turn off the television right away. My ‘favorite’ storm specialist came on the air. He is the one who uses fear mongering tactics to heighten everyone’s concern over global warming, relating a butterfly sneezing in Kansas to gloom and doom (slight exaggeration, but you get the idea). When he started his report, he said roughly the same thing that the previous storm specialist had said with only a few key words changed, and his tone was completely different. The new tone was “Total Panic Now!” I will exaggerate the words in order to interpret the meaning of the tone being used (not necessarily the words). “The worst storm, of Biblical proportions, is headed straight for Florida! Within the next 72 hours, Florida will cease to exist! Everyone is going to DIE!!!!”
He didn’t say those words, but the emotional message that he sent was exactly those words. While the previous fellow gave options, he gave none. It was going to be mass destruction with no hope unless you immediately evacuated, although only delayed, staged evacuations of outlying islands had been ordered by the local governments. Reporters need to be careful of the words used and the manner in which they are being used. Or is there a motive in the manner of news delivery?
I have thought about that ‘reporting’ since. This same storm specialist was more subdued when the forecast shifted off the coast. He may not handle stressful situations well. If he heightened the fear level on purpose to get people to act – prepare, evacuate, follow instructions, whatever – he does not understand mankind. God said it Himself in Genesis 8:21 “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma [from the burnt offering offered by Noah after leaving the ark] and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.’” Notice the words ‘even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.’
I do not want to hint that some “good ole boy” who drives around a barricade during a flood is evil. He may not even have evil intent. There are some folks that missed that safety lesson in school where they emphasized that we are all going to die, some sooner than later – so don’t do stupid things. These folks see life-threatening danger and run into it yelling “Yee Ha!” Maybe these fellows have a brain the size of a peanut. Maybe they think that being rescued in a helicopter might be their only chance of riding in a helicopter. (My first military helicopter ride was interesting, but the following rides got boring – until I survived a helicopter ‘controlled crash.’) Who knows what idiotic thing is going through their heads at the time. In knowing this type of person, clarity of thought has never, never, never been experienced.
So, using fear tactics to get them to think clearly will result in the opposite, for they never think clearly.
Now some folks drive around barricades, because that’s their only way home and Mama is taking care of three children – one sick – and Papa just went to get medicine, medicine that the youngest desperately needs… They may be more desperate than stupid. Eliciting fear makes matters worse for these people. It causes poor decisions made in fear.
But there is the other, larger group of people who hear, through their emotions, that we are all going to die, and then we don’t. We survive instead. Will they ignore the warnings the next time? When do people hear about the approaching wolf, and then decide that the media outlets are just crying wolf.
Think of the reporting about the Miami gasoline ‘shortage’ on this past Friday and Saturday. Reports went from 70% of the gas stations have no gas to there is no gas south of Orlando – all reports ignoring the constant effort to resupply, once out of gas, according to them, it was over. For those not familiar with the geography of Florida. Florida is a peninsula at the southeast corner of the US. Miami is near the southernmost point of the peninsula. Orlando is about 250 miles north of there, in the center of the state. You could have driven fifty miles north of Miami and experienced a shorter wait and plenty of gas. The truth was that there was plenty of gas in the Miami area. About 30% of the gas stations, that grew to about 50% upon the media-created panic, were waiting for the truck to arrive and reload the station’s tanks – thus temporarily out of gas, but never the 70% to 100% of gas stations. Those that were waiting to fill their gas cans (for generators) and automobile tanks, could have driven a mile or two down the road or just waited a little longer. The problem was that there were too many delivery trucks waiting in line at the distribution centers due to the panic, unable to resupply the gas stations in time. The major media outlets were giving false information to smear mud on the government’s handling of the situation, allegedly. Nothing that they reported was accurate. In many cases, maybe all, the reporting was irresponsible. Of course, the National news outlets repeated the false information nationwide. Was this also a case of “Crying Wolf?”
So, for the average viewer of the news and weather, how much reporting on preparation and the dangers of not preparing and not heeding warnings can you get away with? How much does it take to cause the average, non-panicked person, to take action, but not too much to create panic? When do people just say, “Crying wolf again, I’ll ride this one out.” And then they die.
As a former safety man, there is an alarming percentage of people that will not change their behavior, regardless of the warnings. But there are those “swing voters.” They might not be swing voters in an election, but they may be on the fence about ‘do I ride out the storm?’ or ‘do I evacuate like the mayor or governor told me to do?’
I’m sorry, this doesn’t sound like much of a Christian blog post, other than ‘truth’ seems to have left the building, but to tell someone about how Jesus loves them and can save their soul for eternity, they must be alive.
Whether you have suffered from this current hurricane or it may still be on the way, preparation and heeding warnings and local government instructions is a good idea. And always remember the Scriptures above. Do not fear. Trust in the Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.