Welcome to this week’s Urban Survival Newsletter, sponsored by the Fastest Way To Prepare Urban Survival Course.
Because of things that I’ve written in the past on the importance of operational security, sometimes it’s assumed that I think that people should stockpile supplies, keep them secret, and NEVER share them in a survival situation.
As I wrote that, I couldn’t help but think about the game, “Two truths and a lie” where you make 3 comments and the other people playing have to guess which of the 3 comments isn’t true.
In this case, the idea that I don’t believe in sharing in a time of need isn’t true…I simply believe in being strategic about it.
Specifically, in studying urban survival situations and talking with people who’ve lived through them and who have lived through other instances where supply chains have broken down and shortages have occurred, current human nature in the US seems to be that people who haven’t prepared feel that they DESERVE to be given supplies by people who have prepared.
Anyone who’s gone on a multi-day backpacking trip has experience with how this plays out. If you pull out a bag of M&Ms after 6 days in the back country when most of the goodies have already been eaten, there is a general expectation that you didn’t buy, pack, and carry those M&Ms for yourself…you MUST have brought them to share with everyone else. You end up with a few options. Among them, eat your M&Ms in secret, begrudgingly share them, happily share them, or eat them in front of others without sharing and develop bad feelings.
This is part of why I believe it is wise to not give food and water that you can’t easily replace to people in a shortage situation simply because they ask…unless you have thought out a plan ahead of time.
Why? Because by doing so, there’s a good chance that they’ll come back to you the next time they need something, and the next time, and the next time. And possibly with friends.
And what this can mean is that if you’ve got a month’s worth of supplies for a family of 4 and end up supporting 4 of your neighbors as well, now your supplies are only going to last one month. It’s not that people asking for your help are necessarily bad people. They might be relatives or good friends.
The issue is that you’ll be in a situation that may be one of the most stressful of your life and watching your stockpile of supplies go down quicker than expected won’t help your stress level.
This is a dilemma for many. I’m a Christian and this particular issue is a stumbling point for many Christians. Here are some of the common thoughts, “God tells us to share. Jesus tells us not to simply wish someone well and tell them we’ll pray for them when we have the ability to actually help them. We’re supposed to be like the good Samaritan. What kind of a witness or what kind of a human being am I if I don’t help someone in need?”
Many of my readers are not Christian and the internal struggle is just as strong and just as confusing.
I’m definitely of the mindset that I need to be the protector of my family and part of that is protecting the emergency supplies that we have so that I can provide for them during a disaster. At the same time, I’m teaching them with my words and actions how I think they should treat other people. Do I want to teach them that it’s OK to ignore people in need? Do I want to teach them that friendships don’t matter?
If we have a one month supply of food that we refuse to share when others ask for help and a shortage goes past one month, how can we expect to be treated differently by others who prepared better than we did?
If I have plenty of food that I’m not willing to share, but no water, can I really be surprised if my neighbor who has a working well refuses to share water with me?
(This actually brings up something important…sharing something that can be replaced is very different than sharing something that you have a limited supply of. Someone with a high flow rate well can share their water much easier than they can share their canned food supply. Likewise, a chicken farmer can donate all of their eggs for a community dinner but wouldn’t think of donating all of their chickens.)
So, you may be wondering if there is a path through this moral and ethical minefield, and I believe there is.
Our decision is one that I consider to be pragmatic. It works for us and it has resonated with many people who I’ve talked with about it.
Basically, we prepare with as little fanfare as possible. We try to make it so that if we have surprise guests, they aren’t going to see anything that will make them think of us as their best option if they find themselves in need after a disaster. We talk about preparedness positively and encourage others to do the same, but we don’t talk about our preparations much. We don’t advertise our preparations much. Our neighbors don’t know and even some of our family doesn’t know that we are a prepared family.
In the event of a disaster, our plan is to still keep our preparedness quiet. I was reminded of the importance of this after the Japan earthquake and tsunami threat. We were staying in a condo on a beach in Hawaii that faced northwest and we were told that the tsunami might be 30 feet high when it reached us.
This was a case where we had to relocate and the friends that we were visiting had a place set up in advance for us to go to. We packed up our food and water for a for a few days and we started loading our cars.
As we did, friends of our friends came up to them in a panic asking if they had “anywhere” to go.
In an instant, the theory of operational security and finite resources in a disaster met the reality of human friendship and compassion. Human friendship and compassion won…it was no contest, but our friends did make it clear to her that she had minimal time and she couldn’t invite others.
Our minimal supplies that would have lasted us a few days would now last a little less. Our buffer until we had to find sustainable sources for water and food was now a little smaller. But we were able to look at ourselves in the mirror and each other.
Just as important in this case, after the threat of the disaster passed, we hadn’t alienated a friend and there was still a solid friendship.
On the other hand, if we and our friends would have started calling around after the tsunami warning was announced and told everyone we knew that we had supplies and a place to go, we would have been inundated and the logistics would have quickly gotten out of control. As it was, since we were quiet, we were able to relocate with our small group and we were able to help a couple of extra people.
Back to our overall thought process…we’re quiet about our preparedness, both before and after disasters. As I’ve mentioned before, this protects us from thieves before and looters after a disaster.
That being said, we aren’t heartless and are willing…even excited to be able to help others with food, water, and other supplies. We can help others in secret by placing food on their front steps. If there is limited assistance from outside, we might be able to accept that assistance and turn around and give it to someone who needs it more than we do.
We’re also prepared to listen to God’s will and/or our consciences and give away as much as we feel called to give away. We have no idea how this will play out, but we’re prepared to “double up” and take people into our home, give resources, and/or give time and skills. At the same time, we want to have as much available as possible for when we receive that “tugging” to give stuff away.
If we advertise that we have supplies, we put the control of when/how our supplies get distributed into other people’s hands. If we keep quiet about it, we get to control when/how our supplies get distributed, if ever.
This understanding that we may feel a strong tug to give our time and resources to others is one of the driving factors that has led us to prepare to what many would consider an “excessive” level. We would rather have “too many” supplies and “too many” skill-sets and be able to help create stable micro-environments on our block, in our neighborhood, and in our community after a disaster than to simply be another refugee family or half-prepared victim.
I go into this topic in the Fastest Way To Prepare course. From the basics of building up food storage to keeping your preparations secret to making a planned response to visitors after a disaster. These are vital topics for anyone who is aware of just how close we are to a situation where the shelves are empty and there’s no trucks coming to restock them. To learn more, go to http://fastestwaytoprepare.com/.
Where do you sit on this? Are you stockpiling for yourself, for yourself and a specific number of other people, or with the understanding that you’ll stockpile until it hurts so you can give until it hurts? Share your thoughts by commenting below.
This week, I also want to direct you over to two new reviews at GI Jeff’s blog on the forum.
One is a review of the Ranger Rick pocket size survival kits: http://secretsofurbansurvival.com/entry.php?42-REVIEW-Army-Ranger-RIck-s-Pocket-Size-Survival-Kits-REVIEW
and the other is a review of the Becker BK-2 companion knife: http://secretsofurbansurvival.com/entry.php?41-REVIEW-Becker-BK-2-Campanion-knife-REVIEW
So head on over, check out Jeff’s reviews and add in your comments. I’m always looking for good writers and if you’ve got any survival or preparedness articles that you’d like to have published, let me know.
Until next week, God bless and stay safe.