Risk Insider: Marilyn Rivers

How Do You Insure Angry?

By: | October 12, 2016

Marilyn Rivers, CPCU, ARM, AIC, currently serves as the director of risk and safety — city safety and compliance officer for a municipality in Upstate New York and is a director at large and delegate for the government and public sector division of the National Safety Council. She can be reached at [email protected].

Something’s wrong. The temperament of our communities is touched with anger and mistrust, and I’m not sure how we got here. The temperature of the conversations keeps rising and attempts at normal conversation are trying when dealing with a dissatisfied public.

I’m not sure when the tide of our communication ebbed toward distrust, disengagement and disagreement. I blame it on the onset of reality “in your face” television that has somehow taught our population that confrontation is socially acceptable and rude behavior toward government is expected.

Blatant excess and inexplicable bad behavior has become a norm in our society. It has the capacity to be generationally devastating.

Anger is being manifested in often the simplest of terms – a pothole, a sidewalk or a tree. Claimants are demanding perfection in sidewalk slab heights, the trimming of trees and the anticipation the earth isn’t going to rise up to swallow a tire, car or house.

Make no mistake; society is being scared into a distrust of our governance.

All government is suspect. The election cycle seems to have catapulted everyday governance into a never-ending spiral of constantly trying to figure out how best to provide “normal.”

I’m wondering if we shouldn’t offer courses to public risk professionals on how to use a Ouija board or fortune telling.

Our profession is often perplexed by the notion that somehow we should have perceived the growth of a vine that takes down a neighborhood tree, a river that overflows in a storm or an employee who forgets every shred of education we have ever provided for them to do the job they are sworn to do.

More often than not, our communities’ frustration boils over into anger. Anger feeds malcontent. Malcontent breeds distrust. Make no mistake; society is being scared into a distrust of our governance. Social “in your face” media is exacerbating that trend.

The population marches sometimes for civil rights, but unknowingly contains elements of destruction that subversively kill, maim and destroy property in the wake of justice. We as a people want to do the right thing. Bad things, however, inevitably sometimes get in the way.

How do you insure angry? How do you mitigate the risk of discontent?

Municipalities can invest in insurance programs, self-insure certain risks, mitigate the totality of the risk of their communities, but we cannot mitigate angry because anger is the great unknown.

Anger is personal. It is situational, emotional and full of grief at times. The striking out, blaming of others, and need to act out creates drama, a headline on the evening news and a tear in society each time it occurs.

Risk professionals who guard our communities with risk mitigation efforts try to measure the onset of risk and provide coverage.

There are, however, no temperature scales available to insure angry. No textbook “this is what you do” to stem the tide of destruction that often comes in the wake of that anger.

The best we can do is continue to work hard to maintain our risk efforts, persevere in the face of the malcontent and somehow hope our diligence maintains the integrity of the communities we all serve because we strive each and every day to ensure our country is what our Founding Fathers hoped it to be.

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