how a panic gets started…

“I always thought a shipwreck was a well-organized affair,
but I’ve learned the devil a lot in the last five minutes.”

Erik Larson, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

(a decadent chocolate treat from The Confiserie Sprüngli / Zurich, Switzerland /
Julie Cook / 2012)

I think most of us know that it is unlawful to yell “FIRE” in a crowded
public venue when there is actually no fire.

The original use of the phrase “shouting fire in a crowded theater” actually
dates back to a Supreme Court case from 1919.
It was a case that dealt with the distribution of anti-war pamphlets and whether such
an act was a violation of the original Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917 / 1918—
and was such an act in opposition, as well as a violation, of free speech or was it considered ‘a clear and present danger.’

It was actually Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who coined the phrase when
he wrote the unanimous ruling over the case.

And according to Wikipedia:
People have indeed falsely shouted “Fire!” in crowded public venues and
caused panics on numerous occasions, such as at the Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall
of London in 1856, a theater in New York’s Harlem neighborhood in 1884,
and in the Italian Hall disaster of 1913, which left 73 dead.
In the Shiloh Baptist Church disaster of 1902, over 100 people died when
“fight” was misheard as “fire” in a crowded church causing a panic and stampede.

All of this came flooding back to the forefront of thought when I saw a news report
with the near cataclysmic title
“Start Hoarding! Chocolate on Track to Disappear in 40 Years”


Chocolate gone in 40 years????

We might just say down here in the South, “thems fighting words”

After reading that title I felt a sudden urge to run to the kitchen, throw open
all the kitchen cabinet doors and take immediate stock of all the chocolate I have
stashed away for baking purposes….
Do I need to run the the grocery store and purge the shelves of 70% Cacao bars for all
my baking and dessert purposes????

Visions of pandemonium breaking out on the candy aisle at the local grocery store
as visions of a bunch of older ladies on walkers and kids with sneakers that light up fighting over bags of M&M’s…not a pretty picture.

And so goes the latest in a string of earth shattering headlines that when all
is shifted and shaked out…are not exactly as life shattering or life ending as
the words allude.

Clicking on the story and reading the tale behind these alarming headlines and
whereas the dwindling supply of chocolate is truly a real concern…
the headlines are not as dismal nor as damning as they lead one to believe.

And therein lies our trouble.


The “news” media has learned that they can grab and stir up the masses into
a frenzy of epic proportions with just a couple of carefully lined up words.

And we, the receivers, fall hook, line and sinker to the gurus of verbiage.

The moral of this tale you ask…..
well perhaps it is two fold…..
Firstly do not take headlines at face value….

In education we call such headlines “a hook”—-as in it grabs your audience…
pulling the recipient quickly into a state of curiosity while knowing that they,
your target audience, will be naturally curious… wanting to know more,
experience more, participate more….

And secondly–yes, in the reality of life, the cocoa plant is in peril….
yet is the peril as grave as we are being lead to believe?

I think the jury is still out on that….
and therefore, it would behoove us to be a bit more cautionary when it comes
to feeling the need to race to the store…grabbing up those precious bags of M&Ms
out of the hands of the grandparents and those fighting grandchildren…

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

33 comments on “how a panic gets started…

  1. says:

    You had me there for a minute. The thought of chocolate disappearing is not only mind boggling, but heart breaking. Isn’t that just what you’re saying? When our senses are stirred it doesn’t take much for panic to set it. I don’t know who’s teaching journalism these days, but they better start looking at all the facts before reporting news that incites and makes people nuts. Whatever happened to the who, what, why, when and where approach. This world has gone insane.

  2. says:

    BTW I read your comments over at Lynn Abbotts blog. God is really tempering you these days. By the time we both get to heaven, we’re going to need a makeover from all the dents and bumps.

  3. ColorStorm says:

    Wait a minute here folks. I disagree.

    Chocolate is merely vanilla that never left puberty. lol

    3 cheers for the real chocolate, Vanilla!! Hip hip, horray.

  4. “I always thought a shipwreck was a well-organized affair,
    but I’ve learned the devil a lot in the last five minutes.”

    Ha! Great quote,Julie. I’ve never heard that before. That’s my whole life story, “guys, why are we organizing such a shipwreck?” There’s a much better way, actually called “the way” long ago.

    True story about fear mongering and sensationalism, a few older women here were watching the news and heard President Trump was “going to treatment.” Not liking the President, they were all riled up, “treatment” means drugs and alcohol. I’m trying to talk them down, but they’re sure of it,they saw it on the news, so it must be true. Finally I scan the headlines, turn on CNN. It’s all about “Trump’s treatment”….of the economy,of foreign affairs,of the FBI investigation. Treatment, people, does not always mean “treatment for drugs and alcohol.” You took one word and ran with it…in the wrong direction.

    I’m telling you,some days there is just not enough chocolate.

  5. Dawn Marie says:

    Hence why I tend to mimic the ostrich with my head left hap-happily in the sand!! 😂

  6. Oh, I chuckled as I read your description of the panic over chocolate! You have such a vivid imagination… I think we would have had grand adventures together had we grown up in the same town… Tom and Huck would have met their match! 😉 And yes! Sensationalism seems to be a “sickness” at the heart of our 4th estate. Sigh. Excellent post, dear Julie! ❤ ❤

  7. oneta hayes says:

    If there were no chocolate the markets would take a big hit and it would be replaced with something else. Within a generation or two they would be swearing that the chocolate stories were all myth. Nothing could be as good as people remember chocolate being! Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait to take some off the chocolate trees in heaven. No tears there – must be chocolate for those of us who know it is not a myth. 😀

  8. Tricia says:

    Well, in my opinion running out of chocolate would entail a national emergency. 😉 So true though that the media hits the panic button for EVERY story, many of which they have no clue even of what they’re talking about. It’s all about the ratings and selling their agenda. Forget the chocolate, please pass the wine….;)

  9. hatrack4 says:

    I heard 2050 for no more chocolate, 32 years. Of course, that depends on the scare tactics regarding ‘global warming’. Warming? Come to our house! But what was more disturbing was the Mars Candy was funneling millions into Cal-Berkeley to genetically alter the cocoa tree. I hope I don’t live that long.

  10. Salvageable says:

    I think I’ve been hearing horror stories about chocolate disappearing for the past forty years. They started back when the world was about to enter the next Ice Age, I think. Those who report the news like to scare us–that’s how they keep us coming back for more. J.

  11. SLIMJIM says:

    Wow what fake news! Good post! I love this: “Visions of pandemonium breaking out on the candy aisle at the local grocery store as visions of a bunch of older ladies on walkers and kids with sneakers that light up fighting over bags of M&M’s…not a pretty picture.” What vivid picture in my head and the juxtaposition with the funny description of the kids!!!

    • such is our culture—think of it Jim–some kids in this vast world of ours would give anything for simply a single pair of shoes— while our western culture kids fight and kill over fancy sneakers as their younger counterparts love shoes that light up—we’ve got more troubles then just chocolate!

  12. Karen says:

    Panic over chocolate, I think there would be stampedes on the candy isle. 🙂 Nice post and cleverly written.

    • as you had me drooling today over Austria—-sigh…..
      Karen, have y’all enjoyed living in Florida?
      I know you don’t miss New Hampshire’s winter, but over all, has it been a good experience (minus a hurricane)? We’ve been toying with the notion of eventually moving. We’ve debated about just getting a place near the beach as a “second” home but the more we think about it, we think maybe a full move would be more practical—but if that were the case, the bay would be the better option (this being the panhandle area….) We know traffic and crowded seasonal masses is a real headache—but just the living issue—has it been a positive?
      Thanks for any thoughts—-

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