Sometimes, it gets frustrating continually trying to convince friends and loved ones that there is a need to prepare for hard times and/or complete breakdowns in the economy, the grid and/or civil order. Other times, it’s difficult to figure out how to inject the topic of preparedness into conversations without seeming like “preaching.” Over the years, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing notes on paper or on my phone whenever I hear news stories that relate to preparedness.
To begin with, the simple act of writing down the note makes the memory stronger. But more importantly, when I’m having a conversation with someone, I sometimes step away to look at the notes on my phone to figure out a current story from the news that I can use to introduce the topic of preparedness without giving away the fact that I’m a prepper.
As we go into the Christmas season, this is particularly valuable. With Christmas parties and gatherings with friends and family, this time of year usually has more social interaction than any other time of year and is a great time to talk about preparedness.
Keep in mind that there is enough talk about the need to prepare that it’s not a foreign concept anymore. Furthermore, you don’t need to be the one person who tips the scales and convinces someone to prepare. When people get the same message from enough different sources (friends, family, TV, radio, newspaper, Internet, etc.) in a short enough period of time, it soon takes more effort to ignore the message than to accept it and act on it.
With that in mind, I want to share a few current stories that are particularly applicable, both to preppers and for preppers to use as a segue when talking with non-preppers.
Last Monday, Verizon sent emergency text messages to customers, telling them to “take shelter now” in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey. The message said it was from the U.S. government (actually, U.S. Govern). It was an accident. It was supposed to be a test, but evidently somebody forgot to include that minor detail.
Also on Monday, OWS protesters shut down operations at ports in Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Longview, Wash. I’m sure this hurt some big, evil corporation in some way, but the biggest things it did were take money out of dockworkers’ paychecks at Christmastime and highlight this weakness in our infrastructure. I hope they’re proud of themselves.
Similar to what Todd Gitlin, a sociologist at Columbia University has said, it appears as if we’re on a course where OWS protests will become more targeted, more militant and more disruptive.
On Tuesday, a rumor was spread that Iran had closed the Strait of Hormuz, causing the price of oil to spike before the rumor was dispelled. Roughly one-third of the world’s oil supply goes through the Strait of Hormuz and alternate routes are considerably more expensive.
One of the interesting things about this is that the rumor started because Parviz Sarvari, a member of Iran’s Parliament on the National Security Committee said, “Soon we will hold a military maneuver on how to close the Strait of Hormuz. If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure.”
So, the good news is that the Strait wasn’t actually closed, but the bad news is that Iran wants to practice how to close it and isn’t opposed to instability in the region.
And, a couple of weeks ago, one of the big news stories in Texas was that new government regulations are causing so much power generation capacity to be taken offline that Texans should expect rolling blackouts in 2012.
Add to that the National Defense Authorization Act that allows for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens (even in the United States) based on whatever set of criteria the current Administration hands down, and we really are living in bizarre times.
What does all this mean?
One of the big lessons in these seemingly disparate stories is how vulnerable our way of life is from almost every direction.
Bureaucratic inefficiency, socialists bent on overthrow, extremists halfway around the globe and power-hungry politicians are all factors that could completely disrupt our (relatively) cheap supply of food, water and fuel as well as the ability to heat our homes.
These aren’t crazy conspiracies cooked up by people with too much time on their hands. They are events that are unfolding in real time that are being covered by the entire political spectrum in every form of media.
Oftentimes, it seems like we have so many threats that are so huge in nature that there’s nothing that we can do. Truth be told, there isn’t much that an individual person can do about what Iran does, what businesses OWS protesters disrupt or what regulations create energy shortages.
What you can do is continually make progress toward protecting you and your family from disruptions in the systems that you depend upon on a daily basis.
In some cases, it means stocking up, in other cases it means finding alternative ways of doing things — maybe ways that aren’t as dependent on technology.
John Giduck shares an anecdote in his book, Terror At Beslan, that is very applicable to people concerned about preparedness.
During the space race between the USSR and the United States, people involved in the space program realized that writing pens don’t work in zero gravity. The United States, being a technologically minded country, spent millions of dollars on research and development creating the “space pen” that would write in zero gravity, upside down and, I believe, under water. It became a model of U.S. ingenuity and resourcefulness and it is a really neat pen.
The Soviets decided to use a pencil. It also wrote in zero gravity and upside down. The research, development and production costs were much less expensive.
Since the end of World War II, we as a society have become increasingly dependent on Fisher space pen solutions and have forgotten about having pencils as an option.
As we approach Christmas and the new year, I want to encourage you to thoroughly enjoy all of the Fisher space pens in your life: fully automatic furnaces, cars that always (or at least usually) start, faucets and switches that always work, gas pumps that always pump gas, store shelves that are never empty, high-quality coffee shops on every corner, wide varieties of semi-fresh food in grocery stores, and more. Enjoy these things. Take advantage of them. These things have never been available the way they are right now, are available only to a relatively limited number of people in the world, and may not always be available the way they are now.
At the same time, don’t forget to practice using pencils. Know how to build a fire, regardless of whether you have a blowtorch, flares, a lighter, matches, fire-starting tools or two sticks. Know multiple methods of purifying water. Know how to defend yourself, whether you’re fully armed and ready or in the shower with shampoo in your hair. Know how to identify threats and spot danger. Know the fundamentals of first aid, CPR and trauma care. Practice bartering, dickering and negotiating. Almost everyone else in the world thinks these are acceptable practices, and these skills have only fallen widely out of favor in the United States since World War II.
The combination of enjoying “Fisher Space Pens” and knowing how to use “pencils” will, in a sense, give you the best of both worlds while times are good. For some people, it will lead to a complete change in lifestyle; but for most people, it will simply lead to more stability — both now and in a survival situation.
Last-Minute Christmas Thoughts
The other day, after I made a purchase, the lady who was helping me said, “Happy Holidays!” I was in a particularly obnoxious mood and replied, “Thank you! I don’t celebrate ‘Holidays,’ but I wish you a Merry Christmas!” The lady who was helping me and the lady next to her broke out into two of the biggest grins that I’ve seen in quite a while and said “Merry Christmas!”
If you’re still looking for last-minute Christmas gifts, one that you should consider is a deck of Urban Survival Playing Cards. They were featured on Glenn Beck’s 2010 My Favorite Things Christmas special as a must-have gift to buy for the people you love.
In addition to being a deck of playing cards that you can use for entertainment, they also include 52 survival tips, tricks and tactics that people are likely to forget in high-stress survival situations. I released these two Christmases ago, and they’ve been a hit since then.