According to a recent National Geographic article, prepping was once a way of life for Americans. The author, Nina Stroclich, writes how decades ago, through the two World Wars and into the Cold War, communities used government guidelines to stay ready for threats of all kinds. Even as the Soviet terror subsided, people still kept alert for environmental contamination and natural disasters.
But many years later, Strochlich notes, the pandemic has revealed how much things have changed. “As the country braced for lockdowns and began seeing shortages of crucial supplies last March, people found themselves woefully unprepared.” It would seem that we’ve lost our edge and Strochlich thinks she knows why.
People began to be skeptical of government advice in dealing with disaster. “Duck and cover during a nuclear attack? People began to wonder if the drills were effective or just propaganda. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter [set up a] centralized disaster authority: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).” Yet mismanaged disaster responses to some of the worst hurricanes caused some Americans to lose faith in FEMA. One man interviewed in Stroclich’s piece says the country has lost its “collective preparedness.” He asks: “Why are we sitting in our houses waiting for someone to come save us? No one’s coming.”
The slow-growing distrust of government seems to have been accelerated by COVID and the focus is shifting back to planning locally. “You can trust Bob down the street or Police Sergeant Jane, but who knows who these people are coming in from Washington? What has been a curious component of the evolution of FEMA is that the sheer size of it causes a distrust. That’s part of the catalyst that has given birth to the prepper movement.”
So are we all preppers now? Stroclich points to the pandemic-driven trend for baking bread and canning, as well as record sales of firearms. She says, “Something has shifted in our collective psyche as we remember empty aisles and medical supply shortages.” It would seem that the fallout from COVID has finally lifted the remaining stigma surrounding prepping. “In a public imagination fueled by reality TV, preppers are lonely survivalists, members of fanatical religious groups, or even wealthy Silicon Valley moguls who buy luxury underground bunkers and keep a getaway helicopter fueled. But in reality preppers range from New Yorkers with extra boxes of canned goods squeezed in their studio apartments to wilderness experts with fully stocked bunkers.”
Perhaps the potential disasters are so diverse that it’s hard to prep for every contingency. The possible threats in 2020 fill a long list – cyber attacks, drone strikes, genetically mutated critters, threats from rogue states, overzealous Dems wanting to “deprogram” Trump voters… Or as Rev. Fisk often ponders what would happen in a week without electricity? Here’s a hot tip from the article: Prepare like a zombie apocalypse is going to happen, then you have “all the bases covered.”
All joking aside, this crazy year has forced some fresh introspection on us, and contemplating ways to protect your family and serve the neighbors in your community is worthwhile. There may be ways to share skills and knowledge, to plan together and pool resources. A group of preppers in New York City meet regularly and discuss “contingency plans for all types of natural and man-made disasters.” They hold weekend excursions where members learn to build fires, “filter water, provide basic first aid, and scope the best on-foot escape route from Manhattan.”
So, grab a book and read up on survival skills. Rev. Fisk happened upon this one which defines survival as “living on after hope is gone.” Here, we are at an advantage, as Rev. Fisk pointed out – Mad Christians are never without hope. In many ways, we live in a perpetual Advent, preparing and waiting for the completion of time – the return of the King. Though we don’t know when that will be, we are not those who will be taken by surprise on that Day, but are sons of the light. If you wonder at times if you really are ready for that awesome event, check out Rev. Fisk’s recent sermon about the end of the world. Come Lord Jesus, we are ready and waiting.