The world is plagued by crises. Carl Pettit could do with a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’ every once in a while.
We have to deal with the debt crisis, the fiscal cliff crisis, the global warming crisis (or the crisis of nefarious climatology alarmists, depending on your perspective), the education crisis, various economic crises (Americans and Albanians might view this topic differently), the jobs lost to technology crisis, the bullying in our schools crisis, the early onset of puberty crisis, the violence in society crisis, the violence against women crisis, the sinkhole crisis, the crisis of global terrorism, the fat epidemic in America crisis, the healthcare crisis, the aging population crisis (what are we going to do with all of those old folks?), the cosmetic surgery crisis, the football concussion crisis, the arms proliferation crisis, the immigration crisis, the body image crisis, a plethora of addiction-bases crises (drugs, gambling, porn, video games) and, it seems, a crisis of imagination when it come to describing real world problems without constantly making use of the hot button term crisis.
If everything is a crisis, then nothing is. Language is employed to convey specific meaning, and it’s my belief that the overworked word “crisis” no longer means what it once used to. There are many difficulties and problems in society, and across the planet, that need to be addressed, but that doesn’t necessarily elevate them to the level of crisis. What ever happened to the very descriptive word “problem,” or the phrase “serious issue?”
If a tidal wave of biblical proportions wipes out your city, and you’re washed out to sea with the survivors, clinging onto fragments of wood surrounded by hungry sharks, feel free to use the word “crisis,” and even modify it with the adjective “epic.” After alien invaders descend in their flying saucers and devastated the Earth with their disintegration rays, reducing entire human populations into piles of ash, it would be safe to assume that we were in crisis mode. If Donald Trump somehow manages to clone himself, and creates a Trump Clone Army infused with killer Terminator-like cyborg technology, and then marches his army across the land in order to wreak havoc (the flapping comb-over would be the insignia and official flag) on all non-believers, whatever “believers” means, please, scream “crisis” at the top of your lungs.
Everyone has an issue that’s important to him or her, from how we’re failing our children in public education, to the proper (or improper) labeling of GMO foods. It’s only natural to try and garner as much attention to your cause as you possibly can. A word like “crisis” might help in that endeavor, but the problem now lies in the fact that everyone else is doing exactly the same thing with the issues they care about, in order to compete for hearts and minds in an overcrowded media marketplace. “Crisis fatigue” sets in, and we cease to pay attention at all, because we know there will be another fresh crisis tomorrow morning, as sure as the sun rises.
Crisis is an important word, and concept that should only be used in the grimmest of circumstances—otherwise it means very little, while still offering up a ton of unhelpful distraction, which gets in the way of dealing with serious problems that need to be tackled on a sustained, non-crisis mode basis. It seems we have the dilemma (not crisis) of having to think about far too many nerve-racking crises.
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