President Ronald Reagan used to joke that the nine most terrifying words in the English language were, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
It was one of his classic tongue-in-cheek references, but memorable because it contained a grain of truth.
Well, according to a recent report, some officials are taking his faux warning to heart.
A review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website suggests that the term “government” is out and the phrase “federal family” is in. The term first appeared in the FEMA lexicon in 1999, but its use has accelerated over the years. Writes a reporter for the Palm Beach Post:
A Google search shows the phrase appearing 10 times on FEMA’s website during the Bush years. Since Obama took office, “federal family” has turned up 118 times on fema.gov, including 50 Irene-related references.
And Florida State University communications professor Davis Houck thinks he knows why:
“’Government’ is such a dirty word right now. Part of what the federal government does and any elected official does is change the terms of the language game into terms that are favorable to them.”
Looking at this development from a positive perspective, this rhetorical move only affirms what we all know – that family is wonderfully attractive the world over. To be loved and belong to something beyond ourselves, to be connected and protected, is a craving inside every human heart. Of course government can never serve as even a poor substitute for God’s design of a true family, but by embracing the term, officials are, however subtly and inadvertently, giving credence and credit to our Creator’s genius.