What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: rodrick.reidsma
Preparedness. There is perhaps no other word that conveys so much, yet so little. What does it mean? To what areas of life does it apply (or not apply)? Being adequately and generally prepared of a necessity requires that we ask ourselves all sorts of questions, plan for various scenarios, and abstract our preparations enough such that they can apply to various circumstances, if possible.
For example, having a lot of food stored will help you if there’s an earthquake, fire, flood, unemployment, famine, etc. So, this preparedness item is quite versatile in its applicability and usefulness. Other, more specific items, such as a portable toilet or potassium iodide tablets, fill a much smaller niche and can’t be used for too many situations other than the ones they’re intended for.
Yet, they’re all important. Preparedness in this context means acquiring the knowledge, skills, and physical possessions that would enable you to comfortably survive whatever may come our way. In most cases, external circumstances outside of your control dictate what you must go through, and thus you cannot reliably foresee what will happen. So, preparing for the unknown can be daunting, but it is by no means impossible.
The following list of ten items illustrate various scenarios and circumstances for which we should all be prepared. As you read this list, do not become alarmed, frustrated, or fearful. The information shared below is not intended to elicit any of these emotions. Rather, you should explore the various scenarios with an open mind willing to make whatever changes necessary to become prepared for that potential event. Take them one at a time, consider what you need to do in your own life to be better prepared in that area, and make an action plan. Do not let this list, or your own preparedness plan, overwhelm you to the point of inaction!
I fear that too many people would rather die before “anything really bad happens”. While I understand why some people might feel this way, I strongly disagree. Crises provide opportunities for service, leadership, inspiration, and love. You may never be more needed in your life than at a time when others around you look to you for assistance. In such experiences, you can fill a critical need and be a great help to those who need you. I fully intend to survive whatever the future holds, and so should you.
With that, I present the following list of possible scenarios for which we should all be prepared. They are listed in no specific order, and are by no means comprehensive.
- Pandemic. The world recently narrowly averted a potentially massive pandemic outbreak, and yet few are even aware. The media isn’t reporting it, but that’s little surprise. The LDS Church has placed emphasis on preparing for this scenario with some instructional materials. The question you need to ask is this: if a pandemic broke out in America today, am I prepared to self-quarantine in my home for the next three months? Do I have three months’ worth of food, water, waste disposal, medicine, supplies, savings to pay the bills, etc.?
- Economic Collapse. The headlines are scary to ponder these days, and our situation is in many ways grim. Much is being promoted by the various governments of the world to stave off depression, but the truth is that our economic house of cards is built on a sandy foundation. Whether it’s next week or in five years, there will be severe economic problems felt by every individual in the world. People have already lost their life savings, banks are closing their doors weekly, the value of the dollar is eroding, and the market is fearful of what the government is trying to do. The questions you need to ask are: how much savings can I build up? In my situation would it be wise to pre-pay certain bills? Should I diversify out of the dollar into gold or silver? How would I meet my basic needs and those of my family if an economic collapse occurs?
- Martial Law. This sounds like something out of the movies or dystopian fiction, but it’s a very real possibility. As the economy worsens, there will be increasing civil unrest. Recently released documents from George Bush’s administration show that it had arrogantly (and un-Constitutionally) granted itself power to use the military inside the country’s borders to subdue and detain American citizens, free from any Constitutional checks or Posse Comitatus’ restraint. The groundwork for martial law has been in the process for some time, and its likelihood in the event of an “emergency” (whether real or contrived) is quite high. Even without using the military, our cities’ police departments have become highly militarized themselves. The question you need to ask is: do I have a personal plan tailored to my unique situation and location for surviving and escaping the heavy hand of martial law? Am I aware of my Constitutional rights, and taking steps to cement and preserve them now?
- War, Terrorism, and Chaos—Inside Our Borders. Scared of Iraq? According to a military affairs website, Mexico poses a greater threat to our national security than do terrorist factions on the other side of the world. With stories like these, that’s not a surprising statement. And as the chaos creeps closer to our borders; as it festers from within as a result of a tanking economy; as unemployment and entitlement claims rise; as state budgets suffer, hand out IOUs to citizens, and cut spending in sensitive social programs; and in numerous other circumstances that might incite protest and rebellion, the violent actions summarized on nightly news broadcasts may soon become overwhelmingly repetitive. You need to ask yourself: do I have the ability to protect my family from gangs or those who are desperate and violent? Do I have a community of friends and family to survive with (strength in numbers)? What supplies should I acquire and what measures should I take now to create an environment of stability and safety later?
- Earthquake, Tsunami, Volcano. We live on the Earth at its mercy. At any time, she can erupt, shake, and cause us to feel her presence to our physical detriment. This especially hits close to home for those of us (in Utah and California especially) who live on a prominent earthquake fault, or who live near the ocean, close to a volcano, or in an environment known for other severe natural disasters (hurricanes, fires, floods, etc.). Ask yourself: Do I have an emergency route and an emergency vehicle? Have I established a place of refuge to which I can flee, should it become necessary? Do I have basic survival skills and supplies necessary to survive on foot as I travel away from disaster? Do I have a communications and evacuation plan to reunite with my family in the event of a disaster, should we be apart at the time?
- Nuclear. At the switch of a button, entire cities can vanish in a nuclear assault. The nations of the world have plenty of these weapons stockpiled, and frayed diplomatic relations and aggressive posturing may one day lead to a nuclear assault of varying proportions. You must ask yourself: do I live in a major city? If a nuclear event occurred within 300 miles of my home, do I have sufficient Potassium Iodide for all those I want to help? Do I have a safe shelter to avoid radiation? Do I know how to shield myself from fallout and how long I need to shelter in place? Have I acquired the knowledge necessary to survive a nuclear blast?
- Food and Water Shortage. Nations throughout the world are already suffering from severe famine and a decrease in food production. As the economy is factored in and its effects are felt, the number of people suffering for want of food and clean water will increase. You should be asking: do I have at least one year of food and water stored, especially basic staples that can be stored in bulk for a long time? If my current water supply was cut off or contaminated, how would I get water? What items can I store that would be used in a barter situation, or which I could freely give to others that might be in need, yet still be able to provide for my family’s needs?
- Communication Termination. Our communication network is vast, and yet very fragile. An EMP attack, strategic missile attack, or other similar assault could easily take down parts or our entire communication infrastructure in this country. You should ask yourself: do I have an emergency plan for my family that will allow us to communicate between ourselves and others as necessary? Do I own and know how to use a HAM radio, GMRS walkie talkies, and other communication devices that may allow me to access news, pass along important information, and otherwise be of assistance in the event we are unable to do so through conventional means?
- Discord and Division. As world events escalate in how they are individually felt, people will look for someone to save them from their problems. Some look to government, others to God, others to themselves, and others to the tempting stash of goodies in their neighbors’ basement. The Bible talks of division amongst families, and Christian people are aware of the prophecies relating to apostasy and the separation of the wheat and tares to happen in a future day. Whether in a religious context or that of families dividing because of politics or personal decisions, ask yourself: am I prepared for drama, shock, and heartache as those I love and care about may turn against previous affiliations and reject who I am and what I stand for? Am I spiritually in tune and able to receive the necessary personal revelation to stay the course, regardless of what others’ decide, and how many may follow that path? Am I firmly planted on the rock of Christ to prevent my being buffeted about by others’ actions, decisions, and invitations?
- Tent City and Places of Refuge. As a result of foreclosure and economic trouble, tent cities have been popping up in various cities for some time now. Authorities in Sacramento, CA, now estimate that 1,200 people are living in a tent city there, trying to cope with the hand that they’ve been dealt, and get back on their feet. Some believe that future tent cities will be places of refuge from a decaying world where the faithful can gather. But whether you go on an extended camping trip out of necessity or invitation, you should ask: do I have the resources necessary in order to do so? If, for whatever reason, I had to leave the comfort of my home and live in the outdoors for an extended period of time, what would I bring? How would I stay warm? What would I use for shelter?
Now take a deep breath. I, as much as anybody, hope that none of these things ever happen. But looking over history and closely following current events, the sad reality is that the potential for each is surprisingly high.
We must be prepared, and ready to help ourselves, our family, and those around us. Doing so requires mapping out our current plan’s weak points, assessing in what ways our supply of items is deficient, and making an actionable to-do list of things we will work on both in the short and long term.
It’s a lot of work, yes. But as conditions worsen around us, those who have prepared will, like the five wise virgins in Christ’s parable, be ready for the future and able to continue moving ahead in their life. As a young Scout, I learned the motto “Be Prepared”. But in my young teenager mind, I had no idea that those two short words entailed so much! Now that I am responsible for a family of my own, my firm determination is to survive whatever may come our way, and (hopefully) comfortably! I hope you’ll work towards the same goal.