Survivalism Goes Mainstream

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The day starts just like any other.  You wake up, get dressed and make your way into work, fighting the stress of the morning commute just like everyone elsetrapped in their cars on the gridlocked highway.  You finally arrive at work and settle in to start your day.  All of a sudden you hear a loud rumbling sound. At first you think it might just be a large truck driving by or something else shaking the ground.  But then the sound gets louder and the rumbling becomes more violent.  The lights go out, the shaking continues for a minute and then everything goes silent.  The next thing you know people are running outside in a panic, the shaking has started again but this time it’s a lot worse and you can’t keep your footing.  Books start flying off the shelves in your office as you try to make your way for the door.  “Could it be an earthquake?” you think to yourself.

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The day starts just like any other.  You wake up, get dressed and make your way into work, fighting the stress of the morning commute just like everyone elsetrapped in their cars on the gridlocked highway.  You finally arrive at work and settle in to start your day.  All of a sudden you hear a loud rumbling sound. At first you think it might just be a large truck driving by or something else shaking the ground.  But then the sound gets louder and the rumbling becomes more violent.  The lights go out, the shaking continues for a minute and then everything goes silent.  The next thing you know people are running outside in a panic, the shaking has started again but this time it’s a lot worse and you can’t keep your footing.  Books start flying off the shelves in your office as you try to make your way for the door.  “Could it be an earthquake?” you think to yourself.

This is the scenario that has happened in numerous towns across America and people are starting to wake up to the possibility that it actually might just happen to them.  The trend towards emergency preparedness or “survivalism” has really started to take hold in recent years due to a number of natural disasters, mass shootings and other public safety threats that have come to the forefront.  This idea has been perpetuated by television shows such as AMC’s Walking Dead and TLC’s Doomsday Bunkers.  While some think that people with the preparedness or “Prepper” mentality are just paranoid tin-hat wearing fools, others have really latched on to the idea and started to incorporate emergency preparedness tactics into their everyday lives.  Is the recent infatuation with survivalism and emergency preparedness a valid, relevant movement that deserves a further look?  Or does it simply promote a fear mentality for people in an already insecure world.  Is there a need to prepare for the unexpected in today’s world or is the whole idea being oversold?  If history repeats itself as they say it always does, then we can look at examples of disasters throughout recent years to determine if preparing is a wise and necessary venture.  Otherwise this trend would be nothing less than a marketing tactic to push products that will likely never be needed.

What is “Survivalism”?

Wikipedia defines emergency preparedness or “survivalism” as “a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or preppers) who are actively preparing for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales from local to international. Survivalists often acquire emergency medical and self-defense training, stockpile food and water, prepare to become self-sufficient, and build structures (e.g., a survival retreat or an underground shelter) that may help them survive a catastrophe.”

The possibilities for calamity are seemingly endless in today’s world.  From nuclear threats to economic disaster, it seems as though there is always something to be worried about.  In such an uncertain environment, it would seem to be a wise choice to insure the safety of your family by stocking up on a few extra items that could possibly save your life one day.  We purchase health insurance to protect against a major injury and life insurance to protect our families in the event of an unexpected death so why not buy insurance to protect against the effects of a major disaster?  This move towards individual responsibility for your own well being is long overdue and will likely continue to expand over the next several years.

How Real is the Threat?

During Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, many families were left stranded without adequate food or water supplies.  Some were lucky enough to evacuate to higher ground before the flooding hit but others weren’t so lucky.  Circumstances in the local emergency shelters were less than adequate and sometimes even dangerous.  Only those who had taken responsibility for their own personal safety were able to weather the storm unscathed.  Just a few simple preparations such as extra food, clean water and medical supplies made all the difference when it came down to a real emergency.

Several studies have been conducted by Citizen Corps regarding emergency preparedness trends among governments, businesses and households in America. These surveys found that individuals and households are aware of the seriousness of a natural disaster, and say that they are willing to prepare for one, but relatively few households have acted to mitigate losses and reduce injury. With so much evidence pointing out the importance in being prepared in today’s society, it’s hard to understand why anyone would choose not act to protect themselves and their families in the event of a disaster.

Many people argue against preparedness citing paranoia and unrealistic expectations. This is especially true when you talk about preparing for societal collapse or doomsday. But preparedness extends far beyond zombies and bunkers. Preparedness could be as simple as knowing how to fix your car or having adequate food and lighting for your family if the power went out for days or weeks.

People may be able to argue about the various reasons to prepare, however one thing is clear; preparedness is smart, practical and useful.  Whether you are preparing for something as extreme as the apocalypse or something as simple as a power outage, being prepared mitigates trouble, saves money and could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

Someone once asked the founder of the Boy Scouts,  Robert Baden-Powell about the motto of the scouts “Be prepared”.  “Be prepared for what?” they asked. Baden-Powell responded “Why, for any old thing”. Being prepared for life and the chaotic challenges it throws at you and allows you to life happy, stress free and without regret.  If buying a few extra supplies means a happy, stress free life you can count me in!

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