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The Harsh Truth
Escapism and Preparedness
There was recently a thread over on Reddit that I found interesting. The poster asked, “Why do people seem to think that SHTF will be more like The Walking Dead and less like Venezuela?” This got me thinking about the topic of preparedness and what it means in our current society.
I want to take a minute today to talk about the difference between being prepared and escapism.
This is going to be a tough pill to swallow, but you need to hear it – there’s a good chance you’re engaging in escapism and fantasy and not actually preparing for anything useful.
There, I said it. It’s out in the open. I can hear you already: “But DL! I have a year’s supply of water and ten thousand rounds for my AR-15!” And that’s great, sure. Under the assumption that you 1) live somewhere with adequate hunting available to turn those bullets into a buffet, 2) you find other people with food dumb enough in that situation to trade ammo for anchovies, or 3) we’re attacked by space aliens and you alone need to fight them off (lookin’ at you, Randy Quaid.)
Here’s the harsh, cold reality of the situation: gold, ammo and other knick-knacks are going to be less valuable than you want to imagine in a real SHTF situation for most of us. Look at Venezuela, Bosnia… or hell, Florida after that last huge storm. It all comes down to location and ability. Most of us are in the cities or suburbs. If I was starving to death and had a bag of oranges, you’d be hard pressed to convince me to trade any of them for ammo if I couldn’t turn around and hunt with it.
And gold? Good luck. It’s a paperweight unless the other person has the means to get it outside of the impacted area… assuming there’s still a global market to cash it out in. Precious metals are worth what we decide they’re worth, and nothing more.
Rice, on the other hand, is valuable to anyone… if they’re hungry.
There’s an article making it’s way around right now that really hits home on this point. It talks about the price of a haircut in Caracas. It’s not a box of nine mil or a gold Krugerrand. It’s bananas and eggs.
Things you can feed your family with.
I’ll take one haircut, please.
Because people are starving. Aside from a privileged few, most can’t get outside of the area to buy food, medicine or other necessities. There may be people trading for things like gold or guns, but you best believe they’re able to leave the country to trade it back for it’s intrinsic value. If you’re stuck in Venezuela, you’re stuck in a vacuum and that gold isn’t worth the hassle to carry – unless you expect the economy to right itself at some point.
And let’s be completely honest – most of us aren’t prepping for a short term turmoil. And THAT, brothers and sisters, is the real issue.
Look at where we need to be vigilant the most – weather events, government upheaval and natural disasters. Hell, even if you expect a terror attack on home soil – these things generally disrupt life for a short period of time. We’re not talking cataclysmic end-of-the-world, pack-your-shit events here.
Florida became Atlantis for a short period of time. People were hungry, cold and desperate. You’d have lived like a king with a generator, shelf-stable food and an assortment of basic medicines. You wouldn’t need much to hold you over until the utilities came back on.
Think about Puerto Rico right now. A man with solar panels and water storage would be light years ahead of his neighbors.
But most of us are prepping for the long haul. We’re trying to build the Garden of Eden Construction Kit (yes, that WAS a Fallout reference, thank you for noticing.) We want to be able to establish a glorious new society when that asteroid hits, zombies come a knockin’ or a virus decides to shuffle us all off this mortal coil.
Realistically, what is more likely? A massive hurricane knocking out your power for a few weeks or a zombie apocalypse? Government upset and lack of food, water and power for a few months or some ultra-secret strain of weaponized Ebola wiping us all out?
“Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” You’ve heard it before. But avoid the escapism and nonsense that sweeps up so many. Plan realistically.
Don’t expect to run off into the woods and live like Jeremiah Johnson in a cabin you built with your own two hands if you’ve never hunted, fished, done construction, worked a farm or even been camping before. And no, a campsite in the state park or a local campground doesn’t count.
That’s hard living that seems pretty sweet when it’s high fantasy but is going to kick your ass if you’re not honestly prepared.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Prepare for the long term. But do it right. Be ready for now and what might be around the corner. Train and learn. Live what you intend to do now before it becomes a trial by fire.
As always, I’m rootin for you all. I hope your takeaway from this article is “What have I done to prepare for the next Katrina?” and not “Damn, DL really is a jerk.”