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Perspectives on Prepping (pt 2)

January 31, 2016

Some people have expressed their less than overwhelming approval of my previous comments about why I don’t really think of myself as a prepper. I’ve decided to give a kind of lengthy response to what was actually a rather short email, explaining more about my views of preparedness.

Let me be clear. I recognize that the vast and overwhelming majority of people who are preppers are probably much like me. They love their families. They work to earn money to support themselves and their families. They’re active in their community, in schools, churches and civic groups. They recognize they bear the primary responsibility for the safety of themselves and their families and as a result, they seek to take steps to be prepared for whatever may occur. They are farmers, teachers, preachers, mechanics, physicians, engineers, you name it. In short, they’re much like the rest of us. If these were the most vocal members of the prepping community, I might very well think of myself that way. Sadly, they are not the most vocal. Perhaps that’s to be expected. Those people who incorporate preparedness into living their lives, who avoid becoming obsessed with both prepping and the coming disaster du jour and who don’t pretend to a knowledge they do not possess are simply not likely to be the most vocal of preppers or the ones who appear on “Doomsday Preppers.” The reasons are simple. They’re too busy living their lives and doing all the things people do as a normal, regular part of life – all while still managing to be prepared.

I had a person tell me prepping is a lifestyle. I disagree, at least if we’re discussing what I believe to be a healthy approach to preparedness. Independence, I suggest, is a lifestyle. Self-sufficiency is a lifestyle. Preparedness, prepping if you will, is merely part of what contributes to such lifestyles. That’s why, although I do prep and try to do so in a well thought out, logical and effective way, I tend to think of myself as more of a homesteader (albeit an urban one) than a prepper. Part of that, of course, is due to circumstance. I’m fortunate to be in a position to make the urban homestead a reality. My oldest son is in a different situation. His circumstances, including location (he lives in a Southern California apartment), preclude his doing something similar to what I’m doing. Still, he’s going to be raising a few rabbits and growing what food he can. I’m inclined to coin what I think is a new phrase and apply it to him and those like him who use every bit of available space to increase their independence until they can move somewhere that allows them to do things on a bigger scale – all while living and enjoying the totality of their lives. I call those folks “micro homesteaders.”

The reason I favor some form of homesteading, when it is a viable option, over simple prepping, is because of what I believe about food independence as a vital, perhaps even essential, element of self-sufficiency. Food independence, whether total or partial, may well be the ultimate form of resistance. As my son puts it, “if you grow your own food, you don’t care if your rutabaga ration is cancelled.” Indeed. I wish I had said that!

The reality, of course, is that most of us will likely never be rural homesteaders, for any number of reasons. Our jobs may not allow us to live outside a metro area. Cost may be a prohibitive factor. And, quite frankly, the whole idea may not appeal to us. If gardening is not for everyone, how much more so is that true of farming!

My parents were Depression era people from the South. This meant they worked hard and wasted nothing. In many ways, they exemplified the expression that some people have come to associate with the Depression era mindset: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” To some extent, I learned those traits from them. My dad, particularly, has always been fiercely independent. He taught me how to grow vegetables, raise animals, fish, hunt, cook, use hand tools, build houses and do a myriad of other things I’ve probably forgotten. He taught me all of this because he believed everything I knew how to do was one less thing I’d need to rely on someone else to do and one more thing I could help others do when they needed help. In his mind, self-sufficient is simply how a person should be.

It’s germane to this, I think, to include some more comments from my son. We were exploring, via text messages, some ideas and thoughts related to independence and prepping. We have both been rather concerned about the situation in Burns, Oregon. Both of us have concerns that the events, which have not concluded, could still spiral out of control – a situation neither of us wants. His words, I believe, are insightful and capsulize what much of what I’m trying to express, here, because I value my liberty more than I can often put into words.

“We want independence. That means a community not wholly reliant on help from government and outside groups…”

“I think where groups like the Bundy’s and a lot of III types get it wrong is the all consuming emphasis on defense. Defense is important (maybe more important now that it has ever been), but for Liberty to thrive and grow, we have to be more. We have to promote independence everywhere; not merely from a police state or enemy invasion, but at every level. If government realizes that people don’t rely on them, there is little they can do to force anything. And, independent people spread EVERYWHERE. It’s like an antibody against tyranny. Where people are self-reliant, tyranny cannot exist, much less thrive.”

Then, he turned his attention to what he sees as a major difference between preppers and the Founding Fathers.

“I’ve realized that nearly every ‘prepper’ is an urbanite. Everyone else in the ‘prepper’ movement just seems like they’ve been swapping ideas forever and just like this new community.”

“The founders and pioneers didn’t ‘prep’ for disaster. They lived a cautious and self-reliant life, and if disaster hit, they weathered it. Either you had enough or you didn’t. Either way, you started over.”

“And in the good times, they read all the exciting new books and talked about them while they got hammered. BOOM! New country. Not as ‘glamorous’ as secret meetings and storing arms, but way more important.”

It’s not that I disapprove of prepping (after all, I do it myself). What I object to, is what I view as an often narrow focus that makes prepping, as it seems to be commonly practiced, an end in itself. From my perspective, the better goal is independence. The better goal is self-sufficiency and self-reliance. My kid is right. When people are “sufficiently self-sufficient,” tyranny has a hard time growing or even existing. The state cannot control you by threatening to deny you that which you do not need from its hand.

Prepping, ideally, is part of an approach to life that focuses on being self-reliant and reasonably self-sufficient. Being prepared is simply part and parcel of such a life. One is prepared for an emergency, not simply because you’ve thought about the emergency, though that is important, but because self-sufficiency and self-reliance, in and of themselves, require you to do as a regular part of your life many of the things prepping entails. Prepping does not produce self-sufficiency. Rather, self-sufficiency and self-reliance produce and use prepping (preparedness).

So, why do I prep? I prep, because I seek to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. I seek self-reliance and self-sufficiency because I desire, more than anything else in this life, to be free.


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