The title pretty much says it all, but I had never really sat down and thought about all the implications of it until recently. What does preparing mean, and how does one distinguish themselves as prepared versus not prepared? In my limited experience, preparing means assessing potential risks and laying down details plans and supplies to deal with the aftermath of the potential risks. Even though each person assesses and prepares for different risks, being prepared simply means that you will live your life in relative comfort through your chosen crisis. There are varying degrees of preparedness, because not everyone envisions the same risks.

When I was first turned onto preparedness, I thought small. Very small. My first son had several blowouts within a three hour period while we were out running errands. I felt like a fool for running out of diapers and outfits, so I began hauling around more all the time. We got stuck in in town for a few hours longer than we meant to and were getting cranky because we were hungry, so I started keeping a few snacks and waters in the vehicle. I had to dig the vehicle out of a snowbank to get out of the driveway, so I tossed the shovel in the back in case I needed it while I was out.

All those little things started adding up. Pretty soon I started thinking about bigger situations ahead of time. I thought about things that had inconvenienced us in the past – power going out for a few hours, storms causing roads to be impassable for short times, things being sold out at the grocery store for a few days, getting sick and running out of kleenex. I thought, if I can prepare for a few hours, why not try to prepare for a few days? It only seemed the rational thing to do. I love my comfortable life, and am not a happy camper when something goes awry to knock me off of my routine. It made sense for me to prepare ahead of time for things that constantly happen. I crave normalcy.

Little did I know that just by thinking into the future and actively trying to gather supplies and knowledge to make it through the smallest of crises, I had already bypassed much of the population around me. How that is even possible still boggles me. We experience the same small problems and minor catastrophes all the time, yet most of us don’t seem to learn anything from them except that eventually they pass and life goes back to normal. Sickness goes around every year. Allergies wax and wane. People lose jobs. Droughts, insects, or severe weather cause crop shortages. People go on strike, businesses close, or shipping charges increase causing product shortages on grocery shelves. There are storms every year. The power routinely goes out somewhere in the country, sometimes multiple times a year in the same area. It happens ALL THE TIME, yet only a very small percentage of people take active measures to prepare to keep their lives as normal as possible through these routine happenings. What does everyone else do?

That’s the answer. Either do nothing and expect someone else to save you and make your life better, or run out at the last minute and pay a premium for supplies that you’ll just have to run out and buy again the next time disaster strikes. The thing that boggles me is… why? Why don’t people who live in hurricane zones have plywood for their windows? Why don’t people who live in blizzard zones have an alternative method of heating their house for when the power is out? Why don’t people who eat food three or more times a day, 365 days a year keep more than three days worth of food on hand?

Maybe it’s the thrill. The drama. I understand that our society conditions people to seek adventure, to fly by the seat of our pants, and to make a public spectacle of ourselves when times get tough. It’s almost like it’s somehow cool to be unprepared or stand stoically against good advice because it garners attention. An entire sea shore is told to evacuate for their own safety, yet millions stay behind to risk not only their own lives but the lives of any rescue parties who have to go in searching for them during and after the disaster. It’s all very exciting… until you die, or until you are responsible for causing the death of another through your own stupidity.

Maybe it’s the availability of resources. People would rather everything be taken care of by someone else because there are institutions and individuals who have made it their mission to pamper people who fall on rough times. Our own government tells citizens in no subtle way that it will feed, clothe and shelter anyone who doesn’t want to work to be self-sufficient. Grocery stores are always stocked – there are always multiple generators and aisles full of emergency supplies. Until there aren’t. The availability of everything a person could ever want only lasts until an emergency. We all know this from experience, but we seem to forget it in happy times.

Maybe it’s just apathy. People don’t want to deal with thinking about difficult situations, so they shut themselves off to it. They are too afraid to consider disastrous outcomes, so they pretend the situation isn’t happening. They don’t care or pretend not to care because the alternative requires an admittance of being caught unawares or lazy. People willingly suppress their emotions and ability to function properly in an emergency because it’s just easier that way.

Why don’t YOU prepare?

I titled this post with a truth. If you fail to prepare yourself and your family for something that you know will happen sometime in the future, you are consciously preparing to fail yourself and your family. If you move into a hurricane zone and are given warning that a hurricane might hit, failing to prepare means you don’t care whether you or your family make it through comfortable or even alive. If you see grocery prices doubling in a decade while your pay has only increased by 1-3% and you fail to figure out a way to successfully feed yourself and your family, then you must not care if you or your family starve.

Human history is fraught with times of plenty followed by times of attrition, death, disease, and disaster. Our own news is filled with stories about job loss, food shortage, natural disasters, and epidemics. If you know or even have a reasonable suspicion that hard times are on the way, yet you fail to prepare for them for whatever reason… you are making a choice that your life and happiness isn’t worth it. You are choosing to suffer or die.

Why are you choosing suffering or death over happiness and life, and what will it take to turn you around?