The Preparedness Community’s Dangerous Failure of Imagination
by Daisy Luther
In Northern regions of an unstable country, a battle broke out yesterday in the streets of a small city. Meanwhile, in the Southeastern corridor, protesters continue to clash over control of a monument, and in the North West, rebels have been battling local authorities for control of the Capitol for 80 days. One city in the central part of the nation has isolated itself by raising drawbridges in an effort to quell the violence and destruction of ongoing riots. After a massive crime spreehe largest city in the nation looks like the setting of a dystopian movie.
The formerly prosperous nation has been rocked by disease, authoritarian measures, police corruption, and economic catastrophe throughout the summer. A hotly contested presidential race is spurring further division, and the level of violence is expected to increase as election day approaches.
It sounds like coverage of some distant, war-torn country. I remember when I was in college hearing daily coverage of the situation in Sarajevo and it sounded so far away that at some point, I stopped paying attention.
But now the war-torn country is ours.
And still, I see people saying, “It can’t happen here.” They say, “Our area is different.”
Have you checked your normalcy bias lately?
One of the things that Selco writes about often is recognizing that a new set of rules is in place, and acting on that immediately. The earlier you can accept that the rules of the game have changed, the better off you’re going to be.
But many people – including many preppers – refuse to believe that these things are coming closer to home. It’s difficult to accept that one day, the fight could be at your own door. This failure of imagination is something I see often in the preparedness community and, in my opinion, it’s as dangerous as refusing to prepare is.
Last fall, I ran a daily challenge to get folks to think through a variety of situations. Everyone was on board until I escalated the imaginary scenario.
On Day 15, I asked people how they could acquire food if they’d run through all their preps and still we had no grocery system in place. This challenge was loaded with excellent answers from people who really knew about the bounty they had outside their backdoor.
But then on Day 16, I asked people to take it one step further.
Today’s challenge is inspired by the course that I took in Croatia with Selco and Toby.
Yesterday, I asked you what food you could find nearby if the situation had devolved to the point that you’d gone through all your stored food.
Now, if the situation has devolved that far, you have to also imagine that there is no Rule of Law. It’s the Wild West. Everyone is a threat.
As Selco said to us, “You think this is hard? Now do it while everyone is trying to kill you.”
When the SHTF in Bosnia, the threats were everywhere. Snipers were shooting civilians from the hilltops when they went to the river to get water. Neighbors were fighting neighbors for their resources. It was mayhem for an entire year…So today’s challenge takes yesterday’s a step further.
How would you get that nearby food if everyone around was a threat to your life or physical well-being? Would you go at night? Would you move stealthily and slowly during the day? Go in teams? This thought certainly puts a new twist on things. (source)
Things almost ground to a halt with this challenge – just thinking through it was difficult for people. They couldn’t fathom such a reality happening right here in the United States of America. Several people went as far as to write to me about how I was just needlessly scaring people.
But if you aren’t willing to think through the true worst-case scenario, how prepared are you really?
I’m seeing exactly the same thing happen in response to the civil unrest that is spreading across the nation. Nobody who lives outside of a city wants to believe that this trouble could at some point arrive at their doors. So many people seem to think that their location is somehow charmed and immune to the chaos that is sweeping the rest of the country. I know of a few people who are remarkably skilled and well-equipped but they are not in the majority. They are people with years of experience in catastrophic situations. They aren’t Bob who sells insurance or Betty who is a long-time member of the PTA.
Some folks refuse to learn from history.
“It could never happen here” is very possibly the most dangerous sentence in the preparedness world. It’s very limiting and if you are firmly grounded in that belief, then if “it” does happen where you are, it’s going to be difficult for you to quickly adapt in order to survive the situation.
You may think “it could never happen there” because…
- You live in a Red State
- You live in the country
- You and your neighbors don’t put up with any nonsense
- Nobody would dare come to where you are because of (fill in the blank with words like guns, veterans, terrain, Christians)
- You live in a close-knit community
Really, pick your own reason why you feel that you are insulated against the things spreading across this country. But at the same time, realize that police response times are dramatically lengthening even in small towns. People are politically divided, racially divided, and split by income levels – and this is not just in the big cities.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this topic. Some people are so blinded by their ideal of American exceptionalism that they flatly refuse to take advice from those who have been through hell and back.
Some of the readers on my website (and others that republish my articles) get downright furious with guest bloggers from other countries. They are overly critical, for example, of my writer from Venezuela, Jose. They like to loudly claim how the things that have happened to Jose and other Venezuelans could never happen to them and are the direct result of personal weakness and cowardice. They condemn Selco, saying his country is a “third world shithole.” They ignore the advice of contributors from South Africa, and when I cite the troubles of European countries, they’re quick to blame the citizens.
It’s a sad and offensive perspective. We should be thanking our lucky stars that these people have the courage to relive their experiences to help us prepare should a similar catastrophe strike here.
Honestly, it makes me think that these folks who read survival websites and criticize those who have actually survived the real SHTF events we all plan for are really just another variety of the “sheeple” they all mocked during the Obama administration.
They like to talk about how the general populace is so unaware of things going on behind the scenes of government, or how manipulative and propagandist the media can be. But when they are faced with true stories and first-person accounts, they opt to bury their heads in the sand and say, “It could never happen here.”
It is much wiser, in my opinion, to read the stories of those who have suffered and learn lessons, than it is to smugly play Monday morning quarterback about the collapse of an entire nation.
“It could never happen here” is the most dangerous failure of imagination in survival.
If you are one of the people who has rudely insulted my writers, I sincerely doubt you’ll read this and recognize the error of your ways. You’ll probably say, “Daisy is a jerk. I’m not reading her articles anymore.” (Buh-bye, then.)
You’ll probably get mad and wonder who the hell I think I am.
I’ll tell you exactly who I am.
I’m an American who doesn’t think she’s the exception to things that only happen “somewhere else.” I’m a person who looks for the wisdom of others who have been through the very events for which we prep. I’m a person who offers respect to those who are willing to share the things they wish they’d known before their own life-altering disaster. I’m a person who doesn’t look down my nose at the very individuals who are doing their best to help us just because they happen to be from somewhere besides the US and therefore “deserve it.” I’m a mother who wants to learn and protect my family from the worst things that can happen.
Thank goodness, most of the readers here feel the same way I do and are grateful for contributions from folks who have been to Hell and brought back lessons for us.
If you think it “could never happen here” I have to wonder why you’re wasting time on a survival website. “It could never happen here” is the most dangerous failure of imagination in survival.
It IS happening here.
Go back to the introduction to this article and you will plainly see that it is happening here. You may have loads of reasons that you feel you are exempt, but I strongly believe that you are not.
Maybe you need to remember who you are.
You are a person who is determined to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. You have spent time and money to ensure that your family will be okay if something terrible happens. You are determined not to be reliant on the not-so-tender mercies of FEMA after a disaster. You are someone who intends to survive.
Maybe then…just maybe…you need to revisit what is possible, no matter how ugly it is or how much it disrupts your personal comfort zone.
As Selco wrote recently, “What can never happen there is happening there.”
Did you ever expect our national economy to be shut down? To be forced to wear masks? To require travel papers to get to and from work? To watch people openly assaulting others in public places over differences in philosophies? That your home might be a target for arsonists if you proudly fly this country’s flag?
Maybe you’ll be fortunate and it won’t happen there where you live. Maybe you’re correct. And I sincerely hope that you are. I hope that rural America is able to stand strong and remain untouched.
But what if you’re wrong?
About the Author
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.