The Folly of Hubris -- A Cautionary Tale, by Mrs. S.

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How do you balance the secrecy needed when prepping with letting your friends and relatives know that you are a prepper and encouraging them to become one too? Because when SHTF, you want your loved ones to be safe too. Wouldn’t it be wrong to prep in secret and not afford your favorite people the opportunity to prep like you? I know it is not wise to advertise to non-preppers that you are a prepper. But I did it anyway. I just wanted to start a conversation about prepping with my best friend. I was excited about prepping and I wanted her to start prepping too. I wanted to know she would be ok in an extreme situation. And let’s face it; I wanted to brag a little bit too. And that pride, that hubris, can get you and your family killed.

This conundrum was recently brought into sharp focus for me when I was telling my best friend about the new five gallon buckets and bulk grains I had recently secured. I was so proud of myself. Her reply was not “Where did you get the supplies from?” or “How much did it cost – I’ve been saving up and I’d like to get some grains too”. Her response was “If anything ever happens, I know where we’re going”. She meant her family would come here. I was literally stunned into silence. Because I let her know I had secured provisions for my family and about my preparations in her mind I was now responsible for her family too. Rather than plan for her own family’s safety and food security, she let me know her plan was to come here and try to claim a portion of my provisions. How did I feel about this? Would I really turn away my best friend and her husband? Would it depend on the situation or was it just a resounding no? I had screwed up royally. Not only did I fail to inspire her to prep, I jeopardized my family’s food security so I could show off. After she left I realized I had a lot of thinking to do.

And this line of thought, this failure to prepare, it’s not unique to her, and it’s certainly nothing new. People all around our country would rather rely on the government to take care of them, or burden their friends and family who are prepared, than prepare for themselves. Just look at the aftermath of any major natural disaster and you can see that outlook on life manifested. Not only will you have the Golden Hoard to deal with at The End of the World as We Know it (TEOTWAWKI), but some of that hoard will know you personally and will be headed directly to your home. So the bottom line is, are you prepared for that aspect of TEOTWAWKI? Do you have the extra provisions to take these people in? Or would you have to turn them away, with brute force if necessary?

The conversation with my friend made me realize I had talked a lot about prepping and specifically about my family’s preparations to a couple of people. I was trying to help encourage them to prep too. But in the process I had made myself very vulnerable to the people I cared most about. And what would I do if SHTF and they started showing up expecting food, water and shelter? Could our little home and provisions stock pile really stretch to accommodate more people? I didn’t think it was even adequate enough for my family yet, let alone for two or three more people. And if my best friend were coming here wouldn’t she want to bring her sister and her sister’s husband and their son too? What about the grandmother with medical needs that lives with them? Now the hoard in my head was getting bigger and bigger. And what would we do? My best friend comes over every week on Friday to watch television and catch up with me. Her sister’s family are our friends too. Could we shoot these people if that’s what it came down to? We have barbecued with them, been to their weddings, to their parties, their Sunday night dinners. Don’t we owe them something; shouldn’t we help them in an emergency? And wouldn’t they feel that way too?

I decided to make any progress in this thought process, emotion had to tone down and logic needed to be cranked up. What advice would I give to someone else? What if these weren’t people I knew – what if they were random strangers? Well, the ultimate goal is taking care of your family first. But if you have extra provisions or a bountiful crop from the garden, then wouldn’t you want to give them away to help others? That would be nice and it seems like the right thing to do, but it could also be dangerous in a post-TEOTWAWKI world. If you get to be known as the place people can go for a handout, you will soon have more hands than goods to put in them, and that leads to trouble. When the shops run out of food, people often break things and tear up the shops, fighting with one another to grasp at the last few provisions left. Shortly after that comes riots and looting. What do you think they would do to your home? If they don’t respect someone else’s store, why would your home be any different? And in a survival situation people lose a lot of their rationality and morals. Just because you have spent a lot of time with someone, and they are your friend, it does not mean they will not put themselves and their families first. In fact, you should expect them to. And this is the part of it you have got to wrap your head around: no matter how excited you get about prepping and the little stockpile you are amassing, keep your mouth shut about the items you have got! I could have easily told my friend I had picked up a little extra grain and asked her if she did any prepping yet. The recent storm in New York would have been a perfect reason to bring it up. Telling her specifics about the quantities was foolish and could be something that really comes back to haunt me later in life. I was proud of myself for what I was accomplishing, but broadcasting exactly what I was doing could drive people right to my front door in an emergency. Possibly more people than we could afford to help.

My husband and I talked about it and decided we could take in her and her husband in an emergency. He would make a great addition to our security team and she could help with the chores and the baby. The only problem would be what happens if she brings her sister and her sister’s husband and their son too? Could they be a helpful addition to our group? He knows about plumbing, but would there be enough resources to go around? With that number of people we could try to requisition more food and water, but that now takes our home from defensive to offensive, and I am not sure we want that. But that may be where my big mouth has landed me. My friend may be guilty of the folly of failure to prep, but I am guilty of the folly of hubris and letting it run away with my mouth, to the point that I made have inadvertently put my family in danger.

Be smart and keep the particulars to yourself when encouraging others to prep. Answer your friend’s and family’s questions on how to prep, but never reveal exactly what you have. If they ask something innocuous like “Well how much wheat do you have stored?” Always answer with something like “Well it’s recommended you have…” or “In the books I’ve read they say…”. Refer people to web sites and books they can get advice from so they can decide how much to store based on good data, not just by what you have stashed. And it is okay to tell your friends and family why you won’t give out specifics. Explain you aren’t trying to be rude, it’s just not something preppers do. If they really start prepping for themselves, they’ll get it, and they won’t be mad about it. Only get into more detail with other people who are actively prepping who will be in your post-TEOTWAWKI group and even then I wouldn’t tell every little thing. To those in your group you might indicate you have so many months worth of supplies, or more than so many pounds of something, but I wouldn’t list out every amount of everything you have. It is always wise to keep a little something back, especially the specific quantities and locations of your supplies. You want to encourage your friends and family to prep, but be sensible in the way you do it – you do not want to end up jeopardizing your family’s safety and food security by telling the whole world what you have squirreled away. 

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This page contains a single entry by Jim Rawles published on November 17, 2012 4:18 AM.

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How Necessity Became the Mother of Invention, by Sandra W. is the next entry in this blog.

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