Regular readers here and of my books know I sometimes buck the trends of commonly accepted prepper/survival practices. Case in point, my long-standing opinion on bugging out being the LAST option rather than a primary plan. Today, we’re going to talk a bit about another favorite of survival lore — OPSEC.
For the handful of you who somehow stumbled your way here and have no clue what I mean by OPSEC, it is one of those quasi-military terms many survivalists love dearly and toss around like M&Ms on Halloween. It stands for OPerational (or OPerations) SECurity. Basically, the whole “loose lips sink ships” line of thinking.
Before we go any further with this discussion, let me make something clear. I fully recognize and support the idea that you should play your prepping cards close to the vest. You may be justifiably proud of your umpteen cases of home canned veggies and soups but you really shouldn’t be giving guided tours of your pantry to random strangers.
That said, I think that OPSEC can hurt as much as it can help, at least when you look at the big picture.
Think about it like this — every person around you who preps is likely one less person who might show up on your doorstep looking for a handout, right? If your neighbors only think of preppers as being the weird whack jobs as they are portrayed on TV, they might never take the initiative to think beyond tomorrow. Yes, I know, that’s on them and shouldn’t be your responsibility. I get that, really. But, there is safety in numbers and the more people in your immediate area who see the logic and, dare I say, the common sense in preparing for possible disasters, the better off everyone will be, should something happen.
Many, MANY preppers have complained to me over the years that they just can’t seem to find like-minded people in their own area. A big part of the reason for that is that OPSEC has been so ingrained into the prepping mindset, folks are afraid to even let out a hint that they are getting prepared for come what may.
Part of the thinking behind OPSEC is that you don’t want neighbors knowing what you have on hand. Hunger can do funny things to interpersonal relationships, y’know? The folks next door, with whom you’ve enjoyed many a backyard cookout, suddenly become THE ENEMY if you have food and they don’t. So, you don’t want to give them the idea that you have been stocking up, in case something happens and they come a-knockin’, politely at first then perhaps not so nicely. The solution, so goes common thought, is to avoid any and all possible situations where someone could possibly come to the conclusion you have more than perhaps a day or two worth of food in your home at any given time.
Here’s the thing, though. Odds are pretty damn good that they already know you’re taking steps in becoming more self-sufficient. Unless you are really, REALLY good at covering your tracks (hint: if you’re surfing the web for prepper info, you likely aren’t to that level of sneakiness), they already know.
Rather than avoid any and all discussions on the topic, you may be better off broaching the subject with your friends, family, and neighbors. Don’t jump up on your soapbox and go on and on about how the world is going to end soon. Instead, one easy way to introduce the subject is to talk about pop culture. There are a ton of books, movies, and TV shows that at least touch on prepping if not embrace it fully. The Walking Dead is one that comes to mind. Millions of rabid (no pun intended) fans all across the country. What if, instead of a zombie outbreak, it was a flu pandemic? Or, buy them a paperback copy of One Second After and ask them to read it. Talk about ways you can help one another, both now and later.
Encourage them to set aside enough food to last through a moderate event, say at least a couple of weeks. No need to bring them into your basement so they can marvel at the pallets of Mountain House and cases of bottled water you have squirreled away. Give them advice when appropriate.
Will every person you talk to embrace the prepping mindset? No, of course not. However, let me share this with you. I talk to a LOT of people, from all walks of life and all socioeconomic strata. In easily the last couple of years, possibly longer, I have yet to talk about prepping to anyone who blew me off completely or ridiculed the whole idea. Not…one…person. Many of the people with whom I’ve spoken have responded quite positively, saying they’ve already started setting aside a bit of food and bottled water or that they’ve started researching ways they can become more self-sufficient.
The takeaway here is this — don’t let your fear of the unknown override your common sense. You have the ability to form working relationships with those around you. Take advantage of that, rather than just writing off the folks who could be valued members of your community later.