Preppers are Optimists

Posted on: April 12, 2016

[The following is an excerpt from Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide.]

It has been said that preppers and survivalists are “doom and gloom” types, always talking about pandemics, nuclear war, and natural disasters. In my experience, that is actually far from the case. While we may worry about end of the world scenarios more than the average person, we are taking steps to make things better in the wake of disasters, rather than just throwing our hands in the air and accepting the worst as being unavoidable. If nothing else, preppers are actually rather optimistic, when you get right down to it. We recognize that bad things happen in the world but believe that by preparing for them ahead of time, we can “beat the odds” and come out ahead in the end.

Personally, I truly hope we never do experience disasters of the magnitude we’ve been discussing. I rather like having reliable access to Netflix, flush toilets, and the occasional handful of Doritos. At the same time, though, it is just common sense to be prepared for whatever life might decide to throw our way.

As you go through your own long-term survival planning, you might notice a change in your thinking and this change might alarm you. It is not at all uncommon for someone who’s been prepping for years and years to start to actually long for a disaster to hit. Not in a tragic sense, not wanting to see mass death and destruction, not really. But, rather, you desire sort of a real life test. You want to see that all your prepping wasn’t for naught.

This is normal. You’re not weird. Well, maybe you are weird but this isn’t a symptom of being so.

Thinking about a world without law, without rules, gives many people sort of a tingle. The idea of being able to just take what you need from a store, without worrying about payment, is sort of exciting. I mean, one of the most common tropes in post-apocalyptic fiction is when the hero, down to his last can of ravioli and three bullets, comes across a store that has miraculously avoided being looted down to bare shelves. He finds everything from handguns and ammo to a brand new leather duster and sets out on the trail again.

On top of that is the very human desire to be able to truthfully say, “I told you so!” A major disaster, and our successfully overcoming it, would be validation for all our efforts and planning. No longer would we feel it necessary to defend our beliefs or argue with a spouse about expenditures. We can just let loose with a righteous, “Ha! I was right!”

Someone just starting out in martial arts training, having learned a few basic defensive moves, will sometimes wish for a real world test. It isn’t that they really want to hurt anyone but, rather, they want to know for certain that what they’ve learned will work out on the street. I mean, it is one thing to break a choke hold in the dojo or gymnasium, where if you screw it up the instructor will just admonish you to try it again until you get it right. Quite another to have some Hell’s Angel wannabe breathing beer breath down your neck as his heavily tattooed forearm draws ever tighter around your throat.

As that vague yet ubiquitous group of people we call “they” often warn, be careful for what you wish for.

A disaster of the degree that we’ve been discussing, one which would almost certainly result in a total societal collapse, won’t be fun and games. Not unless one of your favorite games involves choosing a burial plot in your own backyard.

Let’s take a little closer look at just one end of the world scenario. While we know, at least in a practical sense, what the basic ramifications of an EMP strike would be – a breakdown of the electrical grid – we honestly can’t say for sure just how bad things could get. For example, an EMP of sufficient magnitude could cause affected planes to crash. Given that there are, on average, about 5,000 planes in the air over the continental United States at any given time, that’s an awful lot of possible debris coming down at high velocity.

Then you have the thousands of people who are occupying hospital beds at any given time, many of whom are relying upon some form of life support. While most hospitals have generator backups to be used during power failures, an EMP may cause them to be inoperable as well. Safe to say, hospitals and long-term care facilities won’t be pleasant places to be after such an event.

Vehicle crashes would undoubtedly injure or kill thousands more. Just because the engines stop running doesn’t mean the cars and trucks come to a halt. Many drivers, who had just seconds before been cruising along at 70 mph on an interstate highway, and now facing the sudden loss of power steering and power brakes, will panic and lose control of their vehicles.

In a nation where being overweight, even obese, is considered the norm rather than the exception, countless more people will drop dead from heart attacks and related issues in the days immediately following the EMP. When suddenly faced with having to walk miles just to get home from where the car died, many just won’t make it.

The point is this – there will be an awful lot of dead bodies littering the landscape. And that’s just within hours of the initial event. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to me, how about you?

Another thing to bear in mind is that disasters are rarely ever single-natured. By that, I mean it isn’t often that the misery stops with the initial event. Instead, it often works like dominos. For example, let’s stick with the EMP scenario a bit longer. Wildfires hit the West Coast of the United States with frightening regularity. Currently, we are able to combat them using the best firefighting technology around. However, what if those firefighters weren’t there? What if buckets of lake water tossed by hand is the epitome of our available firefighting abilities?

If all that is true, then what’s the point of prepping? Why in the world would someone want to live through all that death and destruction?

Because surviving beats the alternative. Beats it by a long shot.

Most preppers and survivalists are familiar with the acronym TEOTWAWKI. For the uninitiated, this stands for The End Of The World As We Know It. It refers to the sorts of disasters we’ve been discussing, events that go far beyond a simple three day blizzard.

Here’s the thing about that phrase. Most people concentrate on the first part of it – The End Of The World. The latter half is often just seen as an intensifier, a qualifier if you will. Really, what it is saying is the event will bring about an end to the world as we know it to be today. It isn’t saying the world is going to be utterly destroyed. Just that it is going to change and be completely different from what we’ve known before.

History has shown that civilizations rarely just disappear from the face of the Earth. Instead, should a collapse happen, the society and culture typically are absorbed by those in the area. When the Roman Empire fell, it wasn’t as if every single Roman just up and died, leaving behind nothing but burned out ruins. In fact, it was a series of events over the course of a few hundred years that led to the eventual decline and fall of the Empire. Hell, some historians suggest the Roman Empire never did actually “fall” but instead went through several transformations and eventually morphed into what we now call the medieval world.

The point of that short history lesson is, should our current society collapse for whatever reason, it isn’t like it will just cease to exist. It will change, people will adapt, and a new society will arise from the ashes of the old. As kids today like to say, that’s just how we roll.

Human beings are nothing if not adaptable. In just the last hundred years or so, we’ve seen countless wars, including nuclear weapons dropped on Japan. The Spanish Flu pandemic killed off tens of millions of people around the world. We’ve experienced natural disasters, from earthquakes to tsunamis, hurricanes to drought. Around the world, and in our own backyard, stock markets have crashed and various currencies became worthless.

Any one of those events could have been enough to send humanity into a tailspin, were it not for the tenacity of mankind.

Should an EMP take down the grid, should the Yellowstone caldera finally blow, I have little doubt that a significant percentage of the population will survive. They will then become the forefathers of a new world, a new society, maybe not created from whole cloth but certainly unlike what we’ve seen before.

By planning ahead, you can be there to see what comes next. I told you, we preppers and survivalists are optimists!

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