The False Alarm Heard Round the World

I’m being a little reactionary, so I admit this isn’t my best writing, but I think timeliness is important in this case.

I lived in Hawaii for three years, so for the last couple of days, I’ve been following the news of their false alarm and the ensuing panic.

It’s only been a little over a year since we left, and we still have friends there.

The biggest trend I’ve noticed, though, seems to be that the State of Hawaii seems to be doing everything they can to downplay just how serious an error this was – as if it was just some clerical error that screwed up a street party permit.

People were terrified. 

The Plantiful Mama, who is currently living in Hawaii, summed up the seriousness of the situation pretty well I think:


And she’s not wrong. That day I watched as people I knew and loved posted about how frightened they had been, about saying goodbye to their families, about hiding. People really thought they were going to die. They trusted the alert system and they were living in terror. We live in a time where many people see a nuclear attack as a perfectly plausible threat – and for the Hawaiian Islands, it’s more realistic and threatening than other places in the United States.

The only positive that may have come from it is displaying how unprepared Hawaii is for such a potential crisis. I mean, it could be asked how do you even? But, hopefully, better than what’s being reported happened.


*This is a public post, but names removed because the author is not a public figure.


There seems to be no preparation for what to do or what would happen should the worst occur – luckily, some of that is being rectified now. They’re fixing the alert systems.

It also showed the locals what businesses they could count on – Walmart obviously is not one of them.

Planet Fitness, however, opened their doors to local children who had nowhere to go during the scare even as another local gym was kicking people out.

For nearly an hour people were afraid, and Hawaii got to see the best and worst in themselves. I agree with my friends and former neighbors – it’s not a laughing matter. There are things to be learned from an incident like this. There are people in power both here in the United States and abroad who speak of nuclear warfare, or any warfare as if it’s a game. Are we okay with the potential consequences of that? I mean, just, generally speaking, had Hawaii been taken out would everyone been fine with that.

Because as long as everyone is fine with inflammatory rhetoric at the highest level, it kind of seems like we’re all fine with risking open war and it kind of seems like we’re fine with the human cost of that.

The truth is, people in the United States tend not to take war seriously and they take war with North Korean even less serious – this is dangerous. Luckily, some of the misconceptions that surround a potential war with North Korea have been pretty well covered by David Barno and Nora Bensahel on War on the Rocks – I’d recommend the read if you have the time.


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