What does it mean to be a “homeland security professional” ? What does such a person or community presume to profess?
Traditionally a “profession” is a self-defined community of individuals claiming common cause to pursue some practice for the common good.
How many of us might share in professing the following?
I resolve to fulfill according to my ability and judgment this public commitment:
I will preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America.
I will apply all that I know to preserve and protect the people of the United States; I will keep them from harm and injustice.
I will increase my knowledge of threat, vulnerability, and consequence; seeking to deal responsibly and realistically with risk.
I will increase my knowledge of collaboration, deliberation, decision, and action; seeking to prevent harm and strengthen resilience.
I will honor the relationships that emerge from shared learning and doing.
I will embrace change and variability as susceptible to understanding, imagination, and creativity.
I will avoid mistaking personal preference for considered judgment and will daily endeavor to strengthen the humility, knowledge, awareness, and discipline whereby I may contribute, along with others, to a true and reasoned capacity to act with regard to what is good or bad for humankind.
Mean anything to you? Just words?
Do these words begin to suggest a sense of what is shared when federal, state, and local governments, the private sector, firefighters, law enforcement, intelligence, emergency management, public health, computer and telecommunications, food production, transportation and distribution, public and private utilities and so many more begin to think and work together to advance this vaguely supposed end-state called homeland security?
There are a hundred and more hard problems facing homeland security. Most of these problems do not have anything like a clear right or wrong answer. There are a hundred and more extraordinary opportunities in homeland security. The best opportunities are seldom claimed by accident.
If there is a such a thing as homeland security, what is its attractor of meaning? Around what does our complex system self-organize? Can there be a homeland security profession? If so what would be its core characteristics, its sources of integrity, its coherent expression?
On this day in 1776 the Continental Congress began debate on the Declaration of Independence . With these words the Congress sought to articulate how a free people might go about forming a new nation, “laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Two-hundred thirty-four years later homeland security continues this effort. How are we doing?
The homeland security public commitment is duplicated from a previous piece I wrote for Homeland Security Affairs Journal. Regular readers will not be surprised that several phrases refer to and depend upon various source texts.