Embrace a Bit of Prepper Mindset for the Next Emergency—Even the Government Approves
Happy National Preparedness Month! Though, as we take a good look around the world, you probably should have been checking your preps during last year’s observance—or, honestly, maybe around 2019. After all, it’s all about preparedness and not catching up with ongoing crises. But we do what we can with the situation we have. Around the world, in conditions that often seem inspired by apocalyptic novels, people from Stockholm to Shanghai are preparing for hard—or harder—times.
“National Preparedness Month is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time,” notes the U.S. government’s Ready.gov. This year’s theme is “a lasting legacy,” with a TV ad featuring a family finding photos of grandma taken “after that flood wiped out the whole neighborhood.” They agree to plan for disasters so their property can be passed to the next generation. For a government message, it’s remarkably sensible and focused on personal responsibility with no bigger role for the state than to offer helpful hints. Then again, after several years of pandemic, shortages, war, inflation, and an energy crunch, you would hope they’d have accepted the important role played by self-reliance.
“When we started the post-apocalyptic and doomsday prepping beliefs project, we thought that holding these hypothetical beliefs might be important for understanding some general everyday behaviors,” Adam Fetterman, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Houston, wrote in April 2021 of his pre-pandemic research on preppers. “We did not think that they would be applicable to actual events. Then came 2020. Since we published our work in 2019 we have seen a global pandemic, mass protests for racial justice, a record-setting hurricane season, the storming of the US capitol, and a record-setting freeze in Texas that left millions without electricity or water for days, to name a few.”
Fetterman, who began with the belief that preppers are irrational, grudgingly conceded that events have proven them “sort of” right and that “it is probably a good idea to be prepared to some extent.” He was actually a little late to the game; by then, outlets from the BBC to The New York Times had conceded that those who had made preparations for social disruptions had a distinct advantage over those who assumed that good times would go on forever.
That was all before soaring inflation, war, and the weaponization of energy supplies. People everywhere have ample reason to see that the growing prosperity of recent decades wasn’t inevitable. Yes, “prepping” for difficulties is something of a First
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