Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Boy Scout Motto

Be Prepared. That is the motto of the Boy Scouts of America. And everyone loves the boy scouts, right? Okay, maybe not everyone. I remember hearing kids in school make fun of boy scouts. I also remember those same kids, not too long after high school, stumbling around drunk at a local grocery store, making fun of anything they could manage to focus on. Kind of puts things into focus, doesn't it?

What does it mean to me to be prepared? I don't board an airplane without snacks, bottled water and sufficient reading material; you never know how much time you'll spend in the air or even just on the runway. I keep small sewing kits and first aid kits in my car, along with a flashlight, a roll of paper shop towels, and of course, jumper cables. And I've used all of them. I keep a spare laptop power brick in my work backpack, and have ended up using it on a number of occasions, sometimes because I forgot mine, but often because somebody else forgot theirs.

Being prepared means thinking about things that might happen, so that if and when they do happen, you don't get caught with your pants down. Of course, we can't think of everything that might happen, but we do our best. And one of the things that I like to keep stocked is my food storage. I started slowly building it when I got married, and when I got laid off a year and a half later and was out of work for six weeks, my family and I were fed.

I was dismayed some time ago to discover that there is a name for people like me: preppers. It sounds like "pepper", which is kind of cool, but reeks of "Trekker", which is completely uncool (even for me, and I also reek of uncool). But it gets worse. See, a lot of preppers believe that in addition to their food storage, they must also prepare for things like civil unrest. I don't think this is entirely unfounded. Anyone that's been through, or even seen on TV, riots and looting in large cities because of everything from natural disasters to local sports teams winning (or losing) would be a fool to find civil unrest unlikely.

I don't mind them stocking up on their guns and ammo. It's not my thing, but I'm not going to slam on them either. But what kills me is when their efforts to ensure their families' safety makes them look like gun-toting fanatics who will try to cease power at their earliest opportunity. I don't see it like that, but a lot of people do.

That's right. Some people actually have actually expressed discontent and fear at preppers, for a variety of reasons, including the one I just mentioned. One person, who's vanity mandated that her blog's name included the words "pretty girl", has stated that "Preppers Scare the Crap Out of Me". Her post is filled with a torrent of misinformation, and even tries to bring politics into condemning what I consider to be common sense: being prepared. For the record, I'm a little jaded that the post that refered me to hers also brought politics into it. Look, I don't care whether you're liberal, conservative, moderate, etc: when disaster happens, if you're not prepared, it may mean the difference between life and death, or at the very least, confinement and freedom.

Hundreds of years ago, back before the days when American politics invaded our society, way before the Boy Scouts, there was a dude named Aesop. I don't know if he really came up with the story of The Ant and the Grasshopper, but the moral is clear: being prepared can save your life.

My favorite part of the pretty girl's post is her closing thought: "For now though, I’m stocking up on sugary rum and tequila and calling it a day." Well, at least she has a plan, even if it is no more than to drink herself into a drunken stupor.

Kind of puts things into focus, doesn't it?


  1. Yes that puts things into focus. There actually are some "preppers" that aren't militant, right-wing, anarchist weirdos.

    There are some people like you that just keep first-aid kits and food storage type stuff.

    Unfortunately... There are many crazy, militant, anarchistic, people shooting preppers. Not only in Oregon, but especially in places like Kentucky, Tennessee, etc.

    They've been around a long time, but now that they have a marketing term "preppers" and a scary president they are attracting more and more people to the militant lifestyle. I'm a bit scared too.

    I just keep hoping maybe it will backfire, and the crazies get diluted even more by not-so-crazy people like you.

  2. I think you're missing a few points fungus. Categorizing that broadly would be much like me saying you're out to personally steal my children and brainwash them with your liberal ways.

    Now the actual truth is, we both have quite a few different views politically. They didn't just magically happen because of the latest president, and they really aren't just some regional thing. Categorizing as such is just simple generalization and bias. I sure don't advocate just shooting people, and all that crap. And yet lately many folks seem to thing there is a rampant uprising by preppers.

    No, it's simply just your average bigotry against a group with different views. Standard alinsky style marketing demands they get segmented and labeled, with all the grief that goes along with it.

    We might as well start stating that every progressive person was an ELF/code-pink/etc type member, militant in nature, often anarchist, or socialist, just in the opposite direction of most of the preppers.

  3. Great post Joseph. For once, I completely follow you. Preparation is the BEST thing in any aspect of our life to do. I prepared for college, and it payed off. I went through my entire undergraduate career free of debt and when I got married was able to help my husband dump his debt fast!

    Now that neither of us have jobs, our preparation for a food storage, and hygienic necessities, though small, has certainly helped as well. We will be able to make our bills through the winter and into the spring because of our proactive status and preparation.

    Yes, unemployment "benefits" are helpful... but I despise relying on the government. I like my freedom and part of that is being able to take care of myself and the ones I love.

    Yes, I grew up around hunters (wildlife hunters). I don't necessarily agree with guns, but it is the USE of them for terrible reasons by people that bothers me. I don't own one, but I know how to use them and handle them properly.

    People really should learn how to take responsibility for themselves and their families - we are all a part of the greater human family. There is strength in numbers that even pieces of metal cannot beat.

  4. Well written post, mi hermano. In fact, as a right-wing "prepper" and scouter who is afraid of the socialists, lives in a conservative rural area and whose husband has been "stock-piling" ammunition, I enjoyed all three posts. Viva la revolution, baby!

    Hey, here's an interesting tidbit about modern labels. I was reading a paper the other day from 1982, and it mentioned something about a movement being fuel by educated, back-to-earthers. I guess some things never really change, just the names do. (What do we call them now? Granola crunchers or something? Oh yeah, I'm one of those too. Dang.)


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