During my Christmas …
During my Christmas vacation, the terror alert level went from yellow to orange, prompting some folks to again complain that the system doesn’t really help us, especially if we’re just told to keep doing whatever we normally do anyway. My response would be; the terror alert system isn’t for us.

By “us” I mean your average Joe/Joesephine living their daily lives, whatever that may entail. Directly, our lives are affected minimally, if at all, when the terror alert level changes. Schools don’t change their schedules, we still go to work, malls are still open. They day-to-day events of life still go on.

Do you look with more suspicion at every person you pass on the street? Hopefully not. Do you cringe when you hear a plane fly overhead? Nah. So what’s the point, then? If our lives don’t directly change when the alert level does, why bother with it?

Because the terror alert system is for “them”, and “they” indirectly affect our lives. By “them” I mean police departments, airport screeners, and anyone involved in public safety in one way or another. When the terror alert level changes, their lives do directly change. New procedures kick in and they have to become more vigilant.

But those new procedures and vigilance affect “us” indirectly. Take airport security. When the terror alert goes to orange, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport starts implementing heightened security precautions. That does affect our lives to one degree or another. What it means is that you have to plan your flying schedule around what the security precautions are going to be on a given day. How do you find out what the situation is? Well, you could call the airport, or just turn on your TV and see what the alert level is. Orange? Then you have to arrive 90 minutes before the flight. Yellow? You have a little more leeway.

So no, the terror alert system might not affect you directly, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. You may not need to know its status hour-by-hour, but when you do need to know if terrorist threats are going to affect your day, you can find out.

The short answer, then, is that the terror alert system isn’t for “us”, but it will certainly affect “us”. And let’s thank God for “them”; the folks keeping us safe, and are directly affected.

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