It appears that fear is the topic of the past few weeks. And to be frank, this is probably the most important topic to face a prepper. There are several reasons:
- If you can make someone afraid, you can manipulate and control them.
- Fear is a natural part of our survival mechanism. Denying this part of our natural reaction is not the answer. Heck, sometimes fear can be fun (prepper porn).
- Fear can be a great source of motivational energy, if it is used appropriately.
Preppers are succeptible to fear tactics. Since prepping is now a large-scale industry, fear is used to sell us everything from potassium iodine tablets after the Japanese Tsunammi to everything “tactical” (costing 20% more than “regular”). We now allow nude pictures to be taken of our wives and children in response to a failed underware bombing, all because of fear. Certainly, living near nuclear power plants undergoing a meltdown would warrant potassium iodine tablets, but not if you live in Indiana. Prepper items labeled “tactical” need to be evaluated for functionality and value to avoid the costly prepper mark up. Lastly, the best defense against hijacking and exploding aircraft are reinforced cockpit doors and alert passengers, not million dollar scannners (besides, the small airports don’t have them, so a smart terrorist would avoid them).
Scientists have studied the fear instinct and estimate people will exert 5–6 times more effort to avoid damage than they will to seek prosperity. Marketing executives and politicians know this; so do professional survivalists selling you things. And that is why they purvey fear — to control and manipulate you. Why do you think the President goes on TV to falsely portray that failure to raise the debt limit could result in social security checks not going out? Why do you think the news shows images of riots in London followed by a poll that suggests violence will come to the US if spending is cut? Fear is another manipulation tool.
When I began prepping, fear was driving a lot of things I did. I observed that I was afraid and making a lot of mistakes as a result of that fear. This does not mean that feeling fear is a mistake. It is not. It is part of what it means to be human. But (a big but) , fear should not control us to the point of being subjugated to the latest fear factor. Otherwise, they are in control and we are their slaves.
So what do you do about it? First, feel the fear. Feel it and let it flow through your mind. Monitor your heart rate, your breathing and sweat production. What are you feeling and what are the physical effects? Next, examine the fear. What are you afraid of and why? Did you just watch news that included vivid visual images? Did the newscaster or writer use sensationalized fear-based language? Is the fear rational or irrational, supported by facts or blown out of proportion? If the fear is legitimate, can I and should I do something about it? If I decide to act, when and how? It is often a good idea to write down an action plan and then see if it still makes sense in 24 hours after the sense of fear dies down.
Let me give you an example: The news comes on the TV of a young child killed by a gun kept inside a local business for protection. The business owner was distracted and the child retrieved the gun and accidentally shot himself. This is a horrible story on the news a few months back in Houston. Some community activists called for stricter gun control to prevent this from happening ever again to another innocent child. Parents asked themselves if their child was at risk just by entering local businesses that have guns and shouldn’t the business have to face additional requirements and inspections if they have guns for protection?
To me this was a big overreaction. First, the child that got killed was the business owner’s nephew who was allowed behind the counter. Second, that same child found the gun on a previous visit and the owner failed to secure it. Third, the very same activists who want to limit gun ownership would have no problem sending their child to a birthday party at a house with a swimming pool. Swimming pools kill far more children than unsecured handguns and yet, there are no anti-pool activists that I am aware of.
The proper reaction would be for each hand gun owner to review their gun security procedures, especially around children. Additionally, children can be trained to properly handle guns, just like I was when I was a kid.
This is just one example of which there are many. How does this apply to prepping?
Take the recent “financial crisis” and S&P downgrade. In reality, it was another false crisis that was used by both sides to push an agenda. There was zero risk of default and zero risk of social security checks not being sent. It was all political theater with extensive jockeying for position. Why do I think it was fake? First, the debt ceiling has been raised so many times in the past that the entire concept is a joke. Second, the final “deal” included cuts that weren’t really cuts or cuts that will never be made. It was all a distraction.
Certainly, the debt and fiscal policy of the US is a big issue for preppers, but there is nothing to be gained for fear-based preps based upon a false crisis. To me, we should already be buying and storing food, water, silver, gold, guns, and bullets as well as positioning ourselves for a currency collapse. Nothing special happened in August, 2011 that would either point to accelerating preps or changing the nature of preps. In fact, the acceleration of the price of gold indicates to me that it is becoming a bubble and should be avoided right now. Silver bubbled and then burst back in late April, 2011 and a lot of preppers were panic buying. I sold and was very happy I did. When silver came back down, I bought again. Am I converting all my money to silver and gold. Nope, I never will, only a portion that I feel necessary for my survival should we wake up one day and all dollars are worth 10% of previous value. This is an appropriate response to a real fear, rather than an irrational one.
The bottom line is here will always be something to fear. The only think that can be done is control your reaction and behave as a rational actor rather than a fearful one. Otherwise, they will always control and manipulate you. That is no way to live.
I would have to argue that the ONLY reason to prep is because of a fear of [fill in the blank]. If one truly felt that tomorrow was going to be a bed or roses and there was NOTHING to fear then there would be no reason to prepare. Said another way, what’s there to prepare for if there is nothing to fear? I happen to fear a lot of things so I prepare.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.…..Only I will remain.”
(Fear litany from Dune)
Fear is one of the normal components of the emotional spectrum and it serves a purpose, as you point out. It’s also one of the most insidious emotions and the hardest to eradicate.
I think what some of us are calling fear is really the ability to forsee cause/effect reltationships and prepare for likely future events. Perhaps that is a definition of fear. But another kind of fear is an unworthy emotion, caused by suprise and ignorance. This type of fear can and should be replaced by knowledge and preparation. There are very few things that we truely have to fear when we are prepared, including death. “If ye shall prepare, ye shall not fear.” A prepared man can sleep through many of the storms in life because of his preparations.