I have written a short (1500 word) essay on preparing as a means to explain to my friends and family my thoughts on this topic. I was having difficulty explaining my views on the importance of preparing to people who asked, and I felt that not being able to put my thoughts into words did an injustice to my philosophy. I started to write a short explanation that turned into a short essay. I suspect the student in me, the me that studied History at University, lent itself to this project. As it is so long I thought I would spread it into three parts to be posted over the next couple of days.
An explanation of why I prepare.
To some degree we all prepare. For example, if you suspect it might rain you will usually take an umbrella with you. You have home insurance in the event something happens to your house. You might park your car in a well-lit area to reduce the temptation for a thief to break into your vehicle. Preparing does not have to be severe and, in my mind, it shouldn’t be taken to extreme limits. Moderation is, as always, the answer and so it really depends on how far you want to take this.
Why do I prepare? The initial reason is because I am a father. I feel that one of the most important roles of a parent is to provide for the family and ensure their safety. My wife feels the same way and she has told me that she is confused as to why mothers wouldn’t prepare, at least for the sake of the children. In our minds, preparing is an integral aspect of being a good parent.
As George Santayana famously wrote in Reason in Common Sense, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”1. I have studied history and I have seen that disasters occur and things do go wrong. Incidents that have occurred throughout the history of our society have shown that humanity is not able to control everything. While our species has attempted to control and prevent the undesirable outcomes of naturally occurring or manmade events, we are unable to really do much to protect ourselves. History is littered with occurrences that demonstrate how little we control the world and make humanity appear insignificant. I believe that (as Louis Pasteur stated) “Chance favors only those minds which are prepared2” and as such I need to put my family in the best prepared position that is possible, so that their continued safety and security are maintained. By being prepared I will not be a drain on an already taxed disaster recovery system should some upheaval occur. We have all seen the advertisements on television that show survivors in Haiti of any of the recent disasters they have suffered, or children starving in a war-torn country. These are real people surviving disasters and they cannot do anything to protect themselves. Let me ask you, can you not imagine your own children in such a disaster? I believe it is a very narrow sighted person who cannot see that similar incidents could occur where we live and I know that I do not want my children being forced to beg for food from anyone, be they charities, government agencies or foreign powers. Media outlets reported that two days after Hurricane Sandy left New York, families were lining up on the streets to take turns at “Dumpster Diving.3” I have seen footage showing a young New York family lowering their children into the dumpster of a well to do neighbourhood to look for edible food while a line of local residents waited behind them. This demonstrates that these families had so little food on hand that they needed to get food that had been thrown into the trash to feed their families. It also shows that despite the residents having almost a week of warning before the storm arrived, some obviously had not planned correctly.
Preparing is not always about the big events or even the dangerous ones. It can be as simple as having food and beverages on hand when it is a public holiday and the shops are closed. Has anyone witnessed the panic buying on the day before and after a public holiday? As unbelievable as it is, I have seen this with my own eyes. Preparing can be about having a torch on your key ring allowing you to walk from your car to your front door and not trip over anything. We enjoy the benefits of our prepping on a daily basis. One obvious example is our food stores. When we run out of milk in the fridge there is no need to worry, we simply check the pantry to take out the next carton of UHT milk. There are also financial benefits to storing additional food. By having a selection of food stored we are not reliant on the supermarket having items in supply, we can purchase additional supplies when the item is on special and save money, and we are also not going to the supermarket as often so we are saving money on petrol.