Sunday, August 14, 2005

Private Matters, Personal Choices

Preparing for potential crisis in one's future is seemingly an unusual approach today. However, it may not be as "odd" as you would think.

In fact, the dearth of available data in the mainstream or even of hearsay anecdotal evidence in your own circles may be as much about privacy concerns as about people choosing to ignore future risks.

Before we talk about those privacy concerns, I'll just touch on a couple of things that would seem to hint positively at how many folks there are out there who really may be genuine but "closet" crisis preppers ...

One: since 9/11/01, the federal government and FEMA have been involved in increased efforts to help citizens realize the wisdom in being personally prepared for disaster--at least to the tune of having on hand three days worth of food and water and a few other essentials. (See the FEMA Guide to Citizen Preparedness, "Are You Ready?") It's not just bureaucractic prepositioning that's going on. How long do you go between hearing or reading about a proclamation by some official that an imminent crisis is not a matter of "if" but "when?" If you stay current, then it has become almost a monthly reminder that we had all better sit up and take notice ... and get busy. In fact, it might have been the latest such warning that has spurred you to consider how best you can start your own preparedness plan. So you ought to believe others too are coming around.

Two: In July of this year, New York City released poll results that indicated more than half of New Yorkers had, to that point, taken actions to prepare for an emergency (see the news release.) More poll results ... 16% report having a bag of supplies, or a "Go Bag," with copies of important documents, contact numbers, cash, bottled water and snack foods, a flashlight, a portable radio, prescriptions, and a first aid kit to take with them in an emergency. Another 39% say they have some of these items packed and ready to go.

There are certainly many other points of reference that could be raised in defense of the notion that several of your neighbors may be silently preparing for darker days. But the main thrust of this blog post is less about how many are doing it and more about why the ones who are, may be going about things so quietly.

Watch Out for the Quiet Ones

You could reasonably conclude, I think, that most folks who understand the need for crisis planning are at least somewhat cautious and frequently use common sense to their day-to-day advantage. Such unsubstantiated generalization is not normally of much value but I do believe cautiousness is really at the core of what we are talking about here. If there was such a thing, an individual's "cautiousness quotient" would probably be a good measure of how likely it would be that person would accept crisis preparedness as a part of their approach to life.

Allowing for that assumption, I will point out that there are two primary reasons your cautious neighbors may be more ready for disaster than you would think they are.

  1. There is a certain undeserved stigma in the public mind (as defined by mainstream media) assigned to people who actually take substantive steps to mitigate future risk in their lives. You know ... "they're paranoid kooks," or worse--maybe even racist "skinhead survivalists." (See previous blog posts "Preparing Does Not Make You a Doomer" and "Undeserved Malice" in the July archive.) Obviously, given the popular misconceptions out there, cautious folks will largely try to maintain a public profile of "normalcy" for reasons that should be apparent to most of us. Certainly, if YOU choose to start putting aside some resources for a rainy day, you may very well decide that it's something you will do quietly ... perhaps to avoid potential dings to your reputation, or maybe because you just don't think it's even worth bringing up in conversation with most other people ... no big deal. Or maybe it's just about prudent home security. Any which way you choose, that's OK.
  2. The truly thoughtful and serious crisis preppers could realize that their prepared resources could quicky become coveted resources by others in truly bad scenarios. Thus, there are many out there who jealously guard their preparedness activities from others to avoid uncomfortable or even dangerous situations should they ever truly become needed. That is not to say that all of these folks would choose not to share with others in need ... in fact, I believe many are reserving their right to choose how to do the sharing and how best to manage those resources wisely in times of trouble.

Is it possible someone in your family or some people in your neighborhood are ready for disasters or are systematically working toward that goal? You might very well be surprised.

Be assured, the preparedness marketplace is vibrant and healthy today. Those countless customers are growing in number ... and that is really only a small percentage of the greater number of people who don't need the specialty items to get themselves squared away.

So, don't for a second think that you and I are as odd as some of the media types would have us believe.

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