Emergency Alert


I phoned my friend Cynthia/Moonshadow/Kruger to talk with her about her experience. She lives on The Big Island, the largest of all of the Hawaiian islands. She was at home when the emergency warning came onto her cellphone. “Is this happening?” she thought. She lives, as most Hawaiians do, in a single-walled house with louvered windows. She noticed that there were no sirens. The island people were accustomed to “drills,” which involved different sirens, including for incoming hurricanes. Scared, she called others; searched online for information; told friends, “I love you,” especially on Facebook; and finally, on Twitter, heard from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard saying the alert had been an error.

Whew. She drank warm chai, and it took several hours to stop shaking.

I asked her if she had deliberated about where she wanted to position herself for a nuclear strike when she didn’t know that the alert was a mistake. She said there was no hurricane shelter close enough to quickly go to. She closed her windows, thought about her “hurricane kit” that includes food and recalled her stored 30 gallons of water. She said, “During those minutes of not knowing, it was like having a gun pointed right at us.” She went on: “If only the president were ‘more presidential’ and didn’t antagonize Kim Jong Un.”

“Those minutes of terror and tears in Hawaii are a grim reminder that we all, every one of us, live on the edge of the end of life for us and everyone we love. That’s lesson one — the nuclear threat is real, it promises death to entire populations, it could happen at any second, and it gives you 20-30 minutes at most to say your good-byes,” wrote Ralph Hutchinson of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance the day after the false alarm.

My friend and I closed our phone call talking about the possibility that this terrible scare and the potential losses of all we hold dear in this world would truly be a wake-up call on every cellphone in the world, that this state of affairs is way beyond unacceptable and that we would all join together to say, “No nukes!”

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.

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