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:

  1. If you can make some­one afraid, you can manip­u­late and con­trol them.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.


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