Choose Your Own Emergency

An emergency is only an emergency when it is acknowledged as such.  

At work, I've learned not to adopt other people's emergencies.  Not so much anymore, but when I first started this job, I used to get a lot of angry phone calls. People had emergencies, and they wanted me to acknowledge it, adopt it as my own, and solve it.


Back then, I was the cat lady of emergencies. I adopted them all, and they hung around my office, fouling it up something terrible. Every scrap of paper at work was scribbled with somebody's emergency - the emergency that was now my emergency, that was making me lose sleep and bite my finger nails.


Thanks to some great mentors, though, these days I'm pretty cold and heartless when it comes to those "emergency" phone calls.  I'll certainly answer your questions, I'll give you support, I'll provide technical services - I will not, though, I will absolutely not adopt your emergency. It is yours. You brought it home, and you've got to deal with it.


I'm proud of this, because acknowledging an emergency is a moral action. It's not something to be taken lightly. Emergencies demand my immediate action and attention, and I want to spend that action and attention on emergencies that I care about.


And there are a lot to choose from.


In 2009, 35,900 Americans died in car accidents.


Since 1980, the number of incarcerated adults in America has risen from 500,000 to nearly 2,500,000.


This week, CO2 in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million.


These, though, are somehow not our emergencies. We have not chosen to acknowledge these phenomenons as emergencies.


Instead we've chosen to worry about the sex lives of our leaders, the minutia our our domestic economy, and invented threats to our national security.


I think we can do better.


Let's choose better emergencies.


What emergencies do you choose?