By Nathan Barton
Do we know what it means to live free? Or do we depend on government and other institutions too much?
One area of life in which we are constantly encouraged to depend on others is in being prepared for emergencies – whether they are life-threatening or just inconvenient problems. Even when governments or other institutions (examples include privately or cooperatively-owned utilities) expect us to be ready for an emergency, it is nearly always under their control and direction.
By emergencies, I mean such things as blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, fire, riots, chemical disasters, and more. Whether natural or manmade, these situations can be mere blips or major crises for us and our families.
And this includes “minor emergencies.” Things like severe illness, a car accident (with or without injuries). Theft, a burglary, or vandalism. Even a flat tire. Things that are just part of life, but which too many people are not prepared to handle.
Look at the big things first: things that might impact our immediate neighborhood or entire community – or even a larger area.
Although all these agencies tell us that THEY are prepared for all these emergencies (and tax or charge us accordingly) we know that is often NOT the case. The police? Sheriff’s deputies? Please, give me a break. Even if their main effort were not law enforcement, there are not enough of them. Emergency Medical Services? Too few, too far between. Firefighters? Again, too few and too far between. And in rural areas, volunteers are harder and harder to find. County emergency management (EM) offices? They coordinate, but seldom are staffed or funded to perform the actual services needed. And don’t even start on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). We know it is handicapped beyond hope by politics, politicians, bureaucrats, and regulations and laws.
We also know that the institutional “relief” organizations are also often too unable to keep their promises. The Red Cross is NOT always there. Various church-based religious relief organizations do a lot, but they are also too few and (given taxes) chronically short of money. (IF they are stupid enough to accept government money, there is little or no difference between them and government agencies.)
In sum, private, local, state, and federal response organizations are limited in their ability to respond, due to time, labor, money, and more. And they are often bureaucratic, slow to respond, incapable, and can make matters worse.
Private, for-profit business? Yes, there are lots – but virtually all of them contract only with government agencies, using stolen taxpayer money. And therefore subject to the same bureaucratic slowness and paperwork.
And last time I checked, there are no Avengers. No Justice League of America. Not even a Supergirl or Spiderman.
So we need to be prepared, on our own, for as much as we can. Whether it is a power outage or brownout of a few hours, a days-long flood, a tornado, a fiery crash which closes a critical highway, or a fire, we need to carefully think about what we can do and what we need.
Prepared AND willing – with the right mindset and willingness to work with our neighbors. Even that guy across the street with the teen that run their MP3 players at twice max volume and whose buddies throw up in the middle of the street after a party.
And even if we don’t really have the time or money to do what we WANT to do to be prepared.
This commentary isn’t intended to be a detailed list of “do this and have that,” but simply to point out those things are all less important – and the result of – the right attitude. Do we want to survive the next crisis or not? Do we want our family and friends to? Do we want our neighborhood, our rural area, our community to survive?
That “can do” or “let’s roll” attitude is the critical matter here. As is looking forward to what might be needed and what we can do. Whether it is having a full tank of gas or a full pantry, or some candles and first aid supplies: these do NO GOOD if we don’t want to and know how to use them wisely when the balloon goes up.
And knowing how to use and take action takes at least a modicum of thinking about it, and a bit of preparation (supplies) but especially a bit of practice. And understanding the importance of cooperation – voluntary, not mandated by government or your church or whatever.
There are many ways to think about it – and plenty of resources on-line and in local organizations. In addition to many of Mama Liberty’s posts (and those of others like Claire Wolf), there are a lot of people who give a lot of thought to this and are willing to share. Yes, one of their main reasons to share is to be able to sell you something. Which they’ll do gladly. But even if you don’t buy their latest “ten-in-one” survival tool or their solar-wind-hydro generator, their ideas are out there to study – and even practice and improve on.
There are also many ways to practice being ready. I think the best is to go do it! If your neighbor’s daughter is stuck with a broken-down car, and can’t make it home from college for the summer, offer (and do) go get her and help – not for being paid anything (much) but simply getting her and her family to “pay it forward.” Someone broken down with a flat tire on the side of the road thirty miles from anywhere? Stop and help. And get someone else to help if it is beyond your skills and tools. See someone needing a ride? You’re armed and know enough to defend yourself if they turn out to be a scumbag – give ’em a ride.
This just touches on what we can do to develop the right attitude to let us survive emergencies.
Think about it – and pass it on.