Monday, January 12, 2015

The times we live in

Today I received an email from the US Consulate in Auckland. I’ve received dozens over the years, usually about consular visits to the NZ hinterlands to register births, process passports, that sort of thing. Sometimes, like today’s, they’re a little more serious.

Today’s email was headlined, “Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Worldwide Caution”, and it was probably the same message sent to US citizens throughout the world (outside the USA, of course). It said:
On January 10, 2015, the Department of State updated the Worldwide Caution to provide information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.

You can view the latest Worldwide Caution, either at: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html, or http://newzealand.usembassy.gov, the Embassy website.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in New Zealand enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.
I think it’s a sad statement on the times we live in, with dangers that I just can’t see improving, let alone ending, any time soon. However, I need to once again re-state that I never feel unsafe in New Zealand. I’ve never bothered to enrol in the STEP programme, either, for that very reason. However, that feeling of safety may change in the future if New Zealand sends troops to Syria/Iraq, but right now, I feel perfectly safe.

Even so, we US citizens, even in safe countries, are told we “need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase… security awareness,” which is probably prudent. But it’s still very sad.

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