In the past decade, Americans have witnessed extreme situations that have threatened many of us. We have seen bad weather conditions and weather-related catastrophic events like Superstorm Sandy. We have all seen the increase in violence, too, from the inner city to the rural regions. Man-made disasters and natural disasters threaten us and both are increasing in occurrence and in severity.
We are living in difficult times and the problems they cause can be overwhelming. We cannot escape many of the difficulties but we can brace, and plan, for them. Dangers lurk around every corner and we’re continually bombarded with them now. It’s a doom-and-gloom point of view but it is our reality. I have said before, we are at The End Of The World As We Know It. Truly — it’s arrived.
Threats from weather, civil unrest, terrorism, financial problems, pandemics, drought, government and corporate corruption — these threats affect all of us. And when a possible threat becomes a reality, the effects are seen throughout our society.
As our society becomes more complex, the systems which interact with one another will often fail now — all because of the interdependency that has created the complexity. Think of these inter-connected systems as spokes on a wheel. When one spoke breaks, the wheel continues to roll along. But when several spokes break, the wheel is weakened. So the threats that we sometimes face and the dangerous situations which are sometimes forced upon us can create problems. And those problems leave us without resources or with broken down systems that cause a new set of problems: one problem creates another problem.
In the case of Superstorm Sandy, the disaster has been devastating for some disaster victims and tolerable for others, depending on a number of factors like their location or their preparedness. In general though, the end results of Superstorm Sandy have weakened food delivery services, disrupted power grids, caused problems with transportation, contaminated drinking water, destroyed homes, and created medical problems. Whatever the danger or disaster, when something bad occurs, the majority of those affected are forced into situations they often cannot cope with.
Faster and faster the dangers come. We see problems and threats more often. It’s alarming to see the increased frequency of these threats, too. We need to admit that we are living in difficult times. We must learn to help ourselves better. We must protect ourselves better. Having worked for years with disasters through my past employment with FEMA, I can say that the majority of those affected by dangerous situations like disasters were never prepared for them. They were not prepared emotionally, physically, or financially.
Why is this? Why are most Americans ill-prepared for dangerous situations and disaster-related problems? Many people don’t want to worry about the bad-stuff. And many people believe nothing bad will happen to them. But this is not rational thinking, it’s avoidance behavior. Most people feel helpless, even overwhelmed, when they worry so they tend to ignore what frightens them. And many people lack the confidence to help themselves. They would rather have someone else, like the Government, help them. They are offloading personal responsibility and that mindset is a poor choice — I have witnessed first hand how the Government operates and “helps” people. And anyone who is paying attention to the assistance that FEMA has been providing in NJ and NY will agree.
Here’s the deal: we cannot become an even larger Nation of dependents who want the Government to take care of us. It’s foolish. And it’s unsustainable. We must learn to be better prepared and better educated so that we can fend for ourselves and protect our loved ones from dangers and unforeseen disasters.
With our complex society and interdependency, a disaster that does not affect us personally still affect us indirectly. Disasters cost money and lives. If a disaster is a Federally-declared disaster, taxpayers foot the bill. Disasters create additional costs, too. In the Superstorm Sandy, Wall Street was inaccessible. Because the buildings and streets were physically damaged, the global Market had to be shut down — there was no back-up plan. Think about that… because of poor planning with those-in-charge of New York’s Wall Street location, the entire global investment world was affected. And they want us to trust them with our investments….
The continuing onslaught of disasters and dangerous situations affect us and we react to them. A natural or man-made disaster always forces a reaction by anyone who has been affected, but the end results vary depending upon the person affected. It is up to the victim to decide whether to be better prepared the next time. Disaster victims don’t always learn hard lessons — some will become proactive towards preparedness and self-reliance and some will not. It’s about individualism and the mindset.
Aside from disasters, there are also many serious situations that can threaten us, too. We are living in difficult times and none of us care for it but we cannot escape it. Our current economic situation is a threat that we all experience, directly or indirectly. The Federal Reserve is creating money out of thin air, the devalued housing market has eroded family wealth, and the underfunded retirement liabilities pose a threat to retirement plans. Because we are all affected by these problems, directly or indirectly, there is a mood across portions of America that has evolved, especially since our financial mess became publicly known in 2008. Many Americans distrust our government more than before. Many of us have no faith in our banking system. And we have learned to be skeptical of most broadcast news. About half of our country realizes that we are living in difficult times now. Our attitudes have changed and this has influenced our outlook. Then there is the other half of our country who want a bigger, more protective Government. And they want free stuff. And they don’t want to work.
What we witnessed on Election Night was the evidence of societal change.
We are a Nation that is divided. We are a split group. We are a society of workers and takers. And it won’t balance out correctly. Even if Obama and his followers keep pushing their divisiveness while they also tout “social justice” and all of those other “justice” causes. This societal change is not just dangerous, it’s disastrous.
Many publications have been written on societal change, specifically about the evolution of societies, the rise and fall of societies, and how civilizations actually fail. One book that has gained attention over the past decade is The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Authors Strauss and Howe predict our future based upon our past and the historical cycles in other countries. Well worth reading, The Fourth Turning offers much about our destiny and how we might better prepare for what is inevitable.
“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.” – Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning
If you haven’t read The Fourth Turning, please do. Prepare yourself.
Although we are living in difficult times, it will get worse — much worse. But even though it will be difficult — even bleak — we can become more self-reliant so that we can help ourselves as best as we can. Many of us know that we can improve our lives and our lifestyles, and sometimes, we simply need reminders for encouragement. Let’s all become better prepared to protect ourselves and our families so that these difficult times are not an overwhelming challenge. Will you join in?
I’ve listed some basic steps that can help us prepare to become less dependent and more self-reliant. A blog post, a hand-written journal, or an ongoing action-item list can help each of us become actively engaged in more self-reliance as we prepare for any disaster that heads our way.
- Define your goals towards self-reliance and prioritize them. This is the backbone of your “plan”.
- Become action-oriented. Lay out your “plan” to achieve those goals.
- Establish a time-table, if possible, and strive to achieve each of those goals. Expect results and try not to procrastinate.
- Have a positive attitude.
- Learn to adapt to a variety of situations.
- Assess your personal skill-set, then identify some new skills that could be beneficial. Check your “plan” to see if there are any new skills that might help you further your goals.
- Learn a new skill.
- Determine the necessities required for your “plan” to succeed. Do you need a pantry for stored foods?
- Create a ‘wish list’ for items that will help you achieve your “plan”. Do you need a shed for storage?
- Be active, both physically and mentally.
- Engage your “plan” daily. Perhaps a checklist will help you to achieve a goal.
- Remember what is truly important.
- Plant a garden, increase the size of your garden, add in (or start) edibles that are perennial (come back every year)
- Plant a fruit tree, or plant several. Remember to plant fruit bushes and nut trees if time, money, and space allows
- Learn to preserve foods: water bath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, freezing.
- Buy extra food for the pantry: purchase food in bulk, or simply extra cans of foods to put away in the pantry
- Store extra water
- Keep basic medical supplies for emergency situations
- Inventory tools, add necessary tools.
We are indeed living in difficult times. We can learn to adapt to many scenarios. We can also learn how to cope with many of the dangerous situations as long as we become better prepared to do so. Some of the preparedness involves training yourself and your mindset. And some of the preparedness requires us to plan for our personal needs and safety.
Remember to strive for “safe, sanitary, and secure” and use this as a personal checkpoint during an emergency, if needed. Are you and your home safe? Is your location sanitary? Is your home secure? You and your household’s personal safety are of utmost importance.
Knowing you are safe, your secondary items of importance are water and food. We must have these to survive! We must always remember to keep extra items on hand — just in case. We must have extra foods put away so we may eat. We must have an adequate quantity of stored water (roughly, 1 gallon of water per person per day). We also must stock some basic medical supplies and medication.
We are living in difficult times. Let’s all become more independent and self-reliant. Our lives really do depends upon it!