This is a sec­ond arti­cle by the same read­er who asked not to be iden­ti­fied.

Dur­ing my last arti­cle I dis­cussed var­i­ous sce­nar­ios for using non-lethal defens­es. While the respons­es were great, they did focus on an ancil­lary aspect of the arti­cle I didn’t intend to be the focus of dis­cus­sion. In that arti­cle I dis­cussed that I believed to be sit­u­a­tions that more war­rant­ed a non-lethal defense response ini­tial­ly, all cen­tered on var­i­ous cir­cum­stances where you were approached by neigh­bors, friends, even  refugee strangers for help. Specif­i­cal­ly, for shar­ing your sup­plies.

I had expect­ed replies to dis­cuss the kinds of non-lethal devices, the effec­tive­ness of non-lethal defens­es, the pros and cons of non-lethal vs lethal, etc. But to my sur­prise most of the respons­es dealt with the top­ic of whether or not to share your sup­plies. Since it was so heav­i­ly respond­ed to, and itself is a good top­ic for dis­cus­sion, that is sub­ject of this arti­cle.

To begin with, the deci­sion upfront to share or not share your sup­plies – even with extend­ed fam­i­ly – is your own choice. Some peo­ple will bom­bard you with moral and eth­i­cal rea­sons why you should but I stand it’s an indi­vid­ual choice. Just as with wit­ness­ing an acci­dent you are under no legal oblig­a­tion to ren­der assis­tance to the vic­tims so is true dur­ing such a dis­as­ter as to require dip­ping into per­son­al sup­ply stocks (foot­note: There is a law on the books in Michi­gan that does require you to assist but even the politi­cians admit it’s impos­si­ble to enforce or hold some­one account­able to it).

If you do decide to share, do you trade or just give? Recent mod­ern Amer­i­can his­to­ry proves that just giv­ing peo­ple things leads to an enti­tle­ment men­tal­i­ty. Hav­ing to trade for it, essen­tial­ly earn­ing it makes the received goods more valu­able and there not tak­en for grant­ed. But then comes the issue of a per­son with noth­ing to trade (or at least noth­ing you find valu­able enough for trade). A lot of hard feel­ing can be gen­er­at­ed if it’s per­ceived dur­ing a time of cri­sis you are try­ing to prof­i­teer rather than just help. And those hard feel­ings can trans­late into vio­lence if it is per­ceived you are hold­ing out for your own ben­e­fit. On the oth­er hand, you spent a lot of time and mon­ey prepar­ing and just can’t hand out items to any­one who requests help.

There are legit­i­mate secu­ri­ty issues too. In World War 2 there was an expres­sion “Loose lips sink ships” mean­ing peo­ple that talk give away infor­ma­tion that can lat­er be used by adver­saries. In terms of shar­ing sup­plies very quick­ly word can get out and around your neigh­bor­hood that some­one over on that block or down that road is giv­ing out sup­plies. Even if you have no con­tact out­side of the peo­ple imme­di­ate­ly around you there is no con­trol­ling who they speak to and so on.

You can’t be the local Wal­mart. And while trade may work in many cas­es there will even­tu­al­ly be some­one who tries to sim­ply take from you. If you’re lucky it will be covert and non-con­fronta­tion­al. But if not, now you have to choose to defend your sup­plies or be loot­ed.

Fur­ther, no mat­ter how well stocked you are, if the dis­as­ter lasts long enough, soon­er or lat­er your sup­plies will run low. You’re going to have to make a deci­sion when to stop giving/trading and now keep what is left for your own use. When you “close your doors” that’s when fric­tion will start. Espe­cial­ly if the cri­sis is last­ing much longer and/or deep­er than any­one expect­ed. Or if the sit­u­a­tion gets event worse. Now peo­ple will real­ly be in need and will be even more assertive to obtain your sup­plies.

It won’t be easy turn­ing away peo­ple you pre­vi­ous­ly dealt with.
It won’t be sim­ple deal­ing with com­ments like “I know you have more in there – give me some!”
There’s going to be a lot more con­fronta­tion.
Are you pre­pared for that?

Not to paint an entire­ly dark, self­ish pic­ture. There are ways to give and keep a low pro­file too. For exam­ple, if some­one in your area you know for sure is in very bad shape (per­haps an elder­ly per­son), you can make a “gift box” for them. Put some sup­plies in a non-descript box and dur­ing the night leave it on their back step or some­place they will read­i­ly find it but not be in total view of the com­mu­ni­ty.

And there is truth to the idea of strength in num­bers. That is, to be part of an orga­nized com­mu­ni­ty for the mutu­al ben­e­fits of sup­plies, ser­vices and defense. It would be impos­si­ble to expect sup­port from such a com­mu­ni­ty if you too were unwill­ing to step up to the plate when your turn is called.

If a SHTF event hap­pens, and espe­cial­ly if it’s steep and long last­ing, hard­ship will be just as steep and unavoid­able. Whether or not to help oth­ers by shar­ing your sup­plies is a total­ly per­son­al deci­sion with pros and cons both ways. While an imme­di­ate deci­sion isn’t nec­es­sary it is impor­tant to pon­der this ques­tion in advance of such an event.

May we nev­er have to real­ly find out how we would answer that ques­tion.

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