I posted a YouTube video by a nice prepper lady, AlaskaGranny, who I’ve watched for a couple years. She mentioned active listening and that’s going to be sort of a stepping off point for this blog post.
I have lots of opinions – many of them about politics, foreign policy and the culture war stuff going on in America, but none of that stuff really matters when it comes to if there’s an emergency situation. What’s going to matter is taking care of my family, friends, neighbors and the people around me in my community and I think that’s how it is for most people.
Often in YouTube communities, regardless which community, there’s a lot of copycat stuff or a topic that one person does that gets a lot of attention, then other YouTubers in that community will jump on the bandwagon and do a video about the same thing. I’ve seen this happen in crafting and needlework communities too, not just preppers and homesteaders. I suppose it’s just human nature and how trends work.
Some common themes I’ve heard mentioned on prepper channels are Argentina’s collapse, Venezuela’s lawlessness, planning for marauding bands of thieves, and warnings about how dangerous the unprepared, starving people will be. None of these outcomes is preordained if America has some major economic turmoil, serious shortages or other financial upheavals.
No one (especially the Russians) was expecting the Ukrainians to put up this much of a fight when Russia launched a full-scale invasion over a month ago. Zelensky was not a popular leader at home and no one ever expected him to rise to the occasion like he has. That’s the thing, people can often surprise you and all these experts or studies saying “this group of people will behave this way or that way during a crisis,” often don’t turn out that way.
I’ve read interesting accounts about WWII Londoners and how they survived the German bombing raids, which started in the fall of 1940 and didn’t ease up until May of 1941. Sebastian Junger, in his book, Tribe, explained how British experts and authorities expected mass hysteria in the run-up to the German aerial bombardment. The Churchill government expected economic production to plummet and people to fall apart
Exactly the opposite happened. Junger writes, “Not only did these experiences fail to produce mass hysteria, they didn’t even trigger much individual psychosis. Before the war, projections for psychiatric breakdowns in England, ran as high as four million people, but as the Blitz progressed, psychiatric hospitals saw admissions go down.”(p. 47) He explains that psychiatrists were puzzled as long-standing patients saw their symptoms subside during the intense air raids. Junger mentions one doctor during the Blitz commented that chronic neurotics of peacetime now drive ambulances. (p. 48).
Junger goes on, “Psychiatric wards in Paris were strangely empty during both world wars and that remained true even as the German army rolled into the city in 1940.”(p. 48)
Many ordinary Londoners during the Blitz went to work during the day, trudged to the bomb shelters at night, then emerged in the morning and headed back to work. All sorts of people with no training self-organized and worked to help clear rubble, assist the wounded, and help in whatever way they could. I’ve read numerous books on the French Resistance and they’re filled with stories of unlikely heroism by ordinary French citizens, many of them women.
Here’s something else I’ve been thinking about and that’s how we often expect other people to view things the same way we do and to take the same actions we’re taking This goes from lifestyle choices, child-rearing (oh, boy do people have strong opinions on that topic), how to manage money, and it goes on and on. In the past two years there’s even definite strong opinions on how we should interact in public since Covid arrived.
It’s hard sometimes not to be alarmed if you follow the news or gravitate to social media content that incites, inflames, or that’s fearmongering for clicks, or listen to people all worked up or angry at some particular type of person or groups of people constantly.
The whole point of emergency preparedness is not just so you can survive a crisis, but also so that you can preserve your quality of life as much as possible. British people during those WWII air raids were still having their tea – even in the air raid shelters and then going to work the next day. They did laundry, cooked meals, took care of their children and all the other normal tasks of living. The same is happening in Ukraine right now. There are even farmers still trying to plant their crops, families caring for their children and elderly family members, doctors and nurses caring for the sick, truck drivers showing up for work, and the list goes on.
Something I’ve been thinking about is, while severe shortages do sound very alarming and could cause a whole lot of disruptions and hardships, America is a very large country with vast natural and human resources. We are a country with a great deal of creative energy and innovators. I suspect that rather than sit around and starve or wait for Washington to figure something out, there will be plenty of Americans, who will jump into action and start creating their own small-scale systems to manage, if the global and national systems fail to meet the challenge.
During several floods, I’ve seen news stories of men coming with their own boats and launching rescue operations to help emergency officials. I’ve seen civilians get in their own vehicles and head to the next town or county to help out in an emergency situation. It’s very common for concerned citizens to join in search efforts when there’s a missing child or travel to assist other firefighters.
While it’s easy to see a lot of disturbing online social media behaviors, there’s also a wealth of goodwill and charity too, especially during emergencies. I’ve seen fundraisers set-up within online communities. A year or so ago a YouTube homesteader family was in a terrible car accident. The man died and his wife was seriously injured. Other online homesteaders immediately started raising money to help that family. I’ve seen people on Twitter and facebook do the same thing.
People often spontaneously organize and figure out solutions, especially in a crisis. And the thing is these types of local leaders and community action don’t come from policy experts, local government, and certainly not from Washington politicians. They come from ordinary people, who got concerned about a problem and decided to take action.
It’s amazing how quickly goodwill and charity can spread and there’s still an abundance of that in America, no matter what other shortages we might face. Volunteerism and civic action in crises really are part of the American DNA and that’s why I remain hopeful for our future.