What happened to ‘normal’?

By now you may have heard that the Department of Homeland Security has changed its terror alert system from the old color-coding scheme to a much simpler one: Elevated and Imminent.

While most security professionals can agree the old system was vague and confusing, at that the new one should do much to clear that up, I wonder if anyone else has noticed the change in perspective.

As of now, America has only two states of security-being: “High alert,” and “Oh my god, we’re under attack!”

Is that it? Are we stuck forever in the mindset that we are under siege? There’s no chance things could ever return to “normal”, that is, a state of low alert?

I realize there are politics involved in a ‘low threat’ state. No one wants to be the one to change the terror threat state to ‘low’ and then suffer an attack that leaves people thinking the change was premature. And budgets are cut when things are low threat states.

But can’t we at least maintain the hope that there at least exists the possibility that our security status could someday be low threat? Or have we bought into the fact that we have lost this war and that credible threats somewhere in the world will always be plotting against us with a reasonable chance to cause us harm?

Why am I uncomfortable that in the best of times, our state of alert will be “elevated?” Is it just choice of words? Words, as they say, do have meaning. Is it out of the realm of our conventional wisdom anymore to simply be “vigilant?”