note: article first appeared in October 2015
Well, first off, I am not crazy about the word “prep” because it sounds like a slang form of “prepper.” And in the last few weeks “prepper” has gotten some bad press. And besides, I don’t think it is truly accurate. However, the words are short, clear, and to the point…so I guess we will work with them.
Why am I a “prepper”?
Man, how much time do you have? But, realistically when I was thinking about the question this morning during my OMJ (old man jog) I had a bunch of interesting concepts floating around in my head. Or maybe it was just some great endorphin rush. Either way, it was a good time. First morning since summer that the weather was in the mid-60s. Love it!
So, back to the “why” about me being into “prepping” so much.
After creating the most obvious of lists of why I a prepper, I came up with this startling question, “Why not be a prepper?” Yes, seriously, that was the question that popped into my head. I had no answer.
But let me take the conventional, and considerably more professional, approach to answering the question.
We know for sure, 100% sure, that each person will have some kind of emergency in their life. It may be unemployment, a house fire, death in the family, a shortfall in paycheck, layoff, unexpected bill, flue outbreak, etc. We also know that many people may, at some point in their life, also face a disaster such as a hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, disabling accident/illness, etc. We know these things will occur…there is no doubt.
So how will people respond?
I think the response falls into two basic categories; 1) people who will depend on themselves to respond/recover, 2) people who will depend on the government to take care of them. I honestly don’t see any other realistic response option.
Let me start off by saying that I am not condemning people in the “#2” group. Everyone under the age of 40 have been raised to believe that the proper role of government is to take care of people. A lot of people over the age of 40 also believe that to be the case, although there are a substantial number of folks who still feel responsible for themselves. But that later category of people is shrinking with the end of every new school year.
So I believe “preppers” fall most into category #1, self-reliance. They see not just an obligation to be in the position to respond and recover from life’s emergencies and disasters, but huge benefits to it as well.
I truly feel that they (we) view part of being prepared as also having an obligation to help others in this regard as well.
“Others” fall into category #2 by-in-large. And over my 30+ years in emergency services I can tell you that this is a huge demographic of people. It cuts across political, religious, age, financial status, and many more demographic groups. It is a true “cross-section” of Americans. But it wasn’t always like that, actually for most of American history it was the exact opposite…the vast majority of people were prepared to survive and recover most anything. And helping out their neighbors doing so.
But let me back up before I start getting into the “why” aspect of this. From my experience preppers don’t want to be beholden to, or wait for, the government to come wipe their noses or butts. Preppers want to be able to stand on their own two feet and take care of themselves, to be independent of being obligated to some government bureaucrat for their next meal, bottle of water, or bag of ice.
Let me put this into perspective…Remember the last time you went to the DMV for anything? How would you like to be dependent on those folks for your next meal? Or, how would you like to be obligated to the IRS folks for disaster recovery?
Well, I hate to break it to you, if you are not a prepper, you are in exactly that situation! Go talk to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Andrew, Loma Prieta Earthquake, or any other number of disasters that have occurred in the last 20 years or so. What do you think their answer would be to how well the government took care of them?
I want to take a little break for just a minute and tell you about some friends that visited with my wife and I recently. We hadn’t seen them in almost 1-1/2 years because they had moved to another state. We were enjoying their company and catching up on mutual friends and family. We had made a great dinner together and we were just sitting around the table, the conversation turned to current events. After about 15 minutes or so the concept of food storage came up. Both couples got quiet for a minute. Then I asked the question, “When you think of your food storage, what single word comes to mind?”
I asked that question because a word had come to my mind while we were talking. Their answer, almost simultaneously, was “security.” Yup, matched mine exactly. That was the first thing that came to my mind, and theirs, when thinking about food storage.
This is kind of like trying to tell you what salt tastes like. Salt tastes like salt. But just try to describe that flavor to someone who has never tasted salt. Telling someone about the “security feeling” that comes from food storage it similar; they won’t understand it if they never tasted it.
Security in knowing that no matters what happens, your family will not go hungry. And with that knowledge comes a certain feeling of comfort.
I saw it firsthand in Florida during hurricane season after hurricane season. The weather forecasters would start tracking a potential storm approaching Florida. No one would get worked up over it while it stayed out in the Atlantic, in the Caribbean, or in the Gulf. But once it turned into hurricane status and all the models showed it making landfall in Florida, then people would take note. About 1 – 2 days out, sometimes less, people would decide it was “real” and they would head to the grocery stores, Walmart, and gas stations.
I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I saw news footage of empty grocery store shelves and long lines at gas stations a day or two before a hurricane was going to hit. The sad part was the people…most were desperate trying to get something bought to be ready for when the storm would hit. Most had failed miserably to prepare. Desperation sometimes boiled over into violence. Sad to see…an understatement.
Those who had food and water storage, a full tank of gas, a generator, and other preparedness items felt secure in that they had done all that they could do to take care of their families.
OK, I am really dancing around here, let me get back on point.
There is only one response that is relatively common when that question is asked, “money.” A large number of folks respond that money is the biggest impediment to being prepared for emergencies and disasters. And I bet that most of those same people have a large flat-screen TV, a relatively new car, decent clothes, and the latest iPhone.
I work for the government, and let me tell you…you don’t want to depend on us for your family’s well-being, safety, and future…you really don’t. Trust me on that one. Remember back to the whole “DMV” & “IRS” thing, and then you can understand what I am getting at.
Now let me make it a little more personal:
- I am a prepper because it makes financial sense. My food storage has gone up in value since I bought it. Actually, if I was to put it on a spreadsheet, it is probably keeping up with, if not beating, the return on my 401k. And when it comes time to retire, if we need it to, all that food storage turns into daily meals for my wife and I. The rest of our gear and equipment will be sold at a garage sale if we need the cash money, or the grand-kids will get it when we are gone.
- I am a prepper because I am charitable. The scriptures tell us to be charitable, preppers (true preppers) are just that. In times of emergencies and disasters preppers can be the first ones to feed their own family, their extended family, neighbors, fellow congregation members, etc. And that can take place immediately, not the days and weeks it takes for government relief efforts to kick in.
- I am a prepper because it makes me feel secure. Whatever life throws at me I know I can at least feed, clothe, put a roof (albeit canvas) over my family’s head, and provide them with clean/safe drinking water.
- I am prepper because I love to learn new things, especially useful skills. I can operate a Ham radio, I can build a solar generator, and I can reload my own ammunition, to name just a few.
- I am a prepper because I get to use all my cool gear and equipment when I go camping and hiking. It is a whole lot of fun that I share with family and friends.
- I am a prepper because I don’t trust the government to do a good job of taking care of me, my family, or anyone else. I mean, seriously, tell me something, anything that the government does well. I don’t want to be depending on some government bureaucrat to be in control of my family’s safety, comfort, and future.
- I am a prepper because I don’t want to depend on the media or the government for my information. I want to be able to know what is going on myself, directly. I don’t need their bias and “slant” on what I learn.
- I am a prepper because I want to be a contributor not a taker. I want to be an asset to my family, my friends, my congregation, my neighbors, and my community. I don’t want them to go hungry waiting on MREs to be pushed off the back of some National Guard truck.
Mostly though, I can’t tell you the most powerful and underlying reason I am a prepper. It’s not because I don’t want to tell you, but it is simply because I can’t explain it to you. I actually can’t relate it to you because it “tastes like salt.” And unless you know what being prepared feels like, I can’t get that across to you. I wish I could, I really wish I could.
But I can tell you this, I can feed my family, I can provide fresh clean water for them, I can house them, I can communicate with them, I can keep them warm, and I have the means to protect them if needed.
Can you imagine if more families could do that? How about if the vast majority of families in America could do that? What would that mean for our communities, our states and our whole country to be independent of the government? Pretty sweet in my opinion.
Now, I will touch on the dark side for just a minute. I have related numerous times my concept of “money & power.” And this principle is especially applicable to emergencies and disasters. If you are not prepared for emergencies and disasters, you have pretty much signed away your money and power. Because letting someone else take care of your family post-emergency or post-disaster will cost you plenty of both money and power.
Yes, that means it will be expensive in terms of money, and costly in terms of power. You will be giving up plenty of both. You will do whatever you are ordered to do because you will not have the means of taking care of your family. You will be at the mercy of anyone and everyone who has a little food, water, shelter, and can provide security…especially the government. If you find that appealing, then you are quite comfortable not being a prepper. Good luck to you and your family.
You either believe that there will be a grid-down event or not. Many Americans, actually most, absolutely do not believe that there will ever be a grid-down event in America. The vast majority of people believe we are immune to such things. They believe that the government can solve all problems and prevent any truly cataclysmic event from occurring.
They are wrong! Dead wrong!
It is coming, the “grid-down” will occur. No, I don’t know exactly when. No, I don’t know what will start it. No, I don’t know where it will start. No, I don’t know who will start it. But it will happen, that is a 100% guarantee.
And a “grid-down” will make any emergency or disaster look like a bump in the road compared to what will hit society and your family. And I don’t want you to take my word for it. And I don’t want you to believe it. I want you to think I am absolutely out of my mind about this.
Once you ask and answer that question for yourself, then you will have a pretty good idea what to do next. And that “next” is yet another question for you to answer for yourself.
Remember way back at the beginning of this article when I talked about there being two kinds of people? 1) People who want their family to be dependent on the government, and 2) those that don’t.
Which kind of person do you want to be?
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