It is a com­mon theme on many prep­per sites and in prep­ping videos that all that needs to be done is to edu­cate your fam­i­ly and friends as to why they need to prep. Once they see the light they too will take the respon­si­ble road and make at least some lev­el of prepa­ra­tion for their fam­i­lies.

At the risk of ruf­fling a lot of feath­ers – That’s wish­ful think­ing at best.

There is the old say­ing about lead­ing a horse to water but not being able to make him drink. You can only edu­cate a per­son if the per­son wants to learn and takes the mate­r­i­al seri­ous­ly.

In terms of prepar­ing you can try to teach – mean­ing inform a per­son of the rea­sons why they should have some lev­el of prepa­ra­tion – all you want but the real­i­ty is that a great many peo­ple just won’t do it.  There are many rea­sons:

  • Don’t’ believe a bad event will/can hap­pen.
  • It’s nev­er hap­pened before (“nor­mal­cy bias”).
  • If it does hap­pen FEMA, Red Cross, the gov­ern­ment will take care of it.
  • Don’t have time to pre­pare.
  • Don’t have the mon­ey to pre­pare.
  • Don’t want to seem crazy to my fam­i­ly and friends.

I’m not mere­ly refer­ring to only a phys­i­cal dis­as­ter or nation­al emer­gency. I also include per­son­al and fam­i­ly emer­gen­cies as well as expect­ed nor­mal though severe events of life.

For exam­ple, I know a woman who after 20 years of mar­riage and being a stay-home moth­er got divorced. She received full cus­tody of their three ear­ly teen chil­dren, one of which has a severe phys­i­cal hand­i­cap. She also received a 5‑figure lump sum pay­ment from her ex-hus­band as well as half the val­ue upon sale of their house.

Now as a sin­gle par­ent of 3, includ­ing a hand­i­capped child, you would expect her to con­cen­trate on car­ing for the chil­dren and being pre­pared if some­thing hap­pens to her. And you’d be wrong. Myself and sev­er­al friends advised her to pur­chase some term life insur­ance. If a fatal acci­dent or ill­ness befell her what’s going to hap­pen to the child? Can’t guar­an­tee the father will take them all back – he’s already remar­ried with a new kid of his own! A $400-$500,000 term pol­i­cy would be very cheap for her. More than enough to cov­er bur­ial expens­es, final debts, and pay for their col­lege to a large extent at least.

But no. She didn’t do it.

We also advised her to make a will for much the same rea­sons. At the time going to an estate plan­ning attor­ney would have cost around $1,200 for a will, POA, and oth­er impor­tant doc­u­ments. Eas­i­ly afford­able with the mon­ey she received from her divorce. But again, no. So much for being a respon­si­ble par­ent.

What­ev­er the rea­son (excuse) you have to resign your­self to the real­i­ty that many peo­ple just won’t do even some min­i­mal lev­el of prepa­ra­tion. And for them, that’s about as far as you can help them. If/when some­thing bad hap­pens in their lives or the com­mu­ni­ty around them they’ve made the choice not to attempt to be pre­pared. There’s lit­tle you can do for them. You have your own respon­si­bil­i­ties to tend to in an emer­gency. If they ask for help, help if you can. But don’t lose a moment’s sleep if you say “No!” either. It may make you the bad guy but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

You can’t save the world.

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