Leading the Way to a New Civilization
By Brett A. Fernau
Part 2: Helping or Hiding
There are some emergency preparedness enthusiasts, often referred to as “preppers,” who advocate extreme secrecy in all their preparedness activities. I understand their viewpoint, though I do not altogether share it. If you are concerned only with your own survival, or the survival of your own small group, then I can see where secrecy is a priority. You wouldn’t want to advertise the fact that you have water and food supplies cached in your basement, or that you are prepared to defend yourself, your group and your supplies by whatever means you deem necessary. You want to survive, you want your group to survive and you don’t want to be overrun by those around you who have not prepared. I understand that, however, in a major, long-term, disaster where most of your fellow human beings are thirsty, hungry and desperate, hours or days away from death, the breakdown of society will be of such magnitude as to make survival impossible for even the most well-stocked individual or group. Consider how many hundreds, thousands or millions of people surround you. If they are not prepared for an emergency, they will be looking everywhere for sustenance. In their search, they will find you and your group and they will take what you have. You cannot long survive a breakdown of civilization in this modern world, unless you are isolated, fortified and self-sufficient. Even if your small group does survive, what will you have left to work with in the aftermath? However, if your goal is to help your friends and neighbors, then withdrawing and withholding yourself from them will not serve that end. Hiding, staying under the radar, keeping a low profile, and withdrawing from society in the name of emergency preparedness is not a viable way to ensure long-term survival of yourself, your friends and your society.
If a major disaster of some sort is inevitable, then so, at this time, is the breakdown of society in the aftermath of that disaster. One aspect of emergency preparedness which, I believe, is being almost completely neglected is preventing that seemingly inevitable societal breakdown. Our civilization, in its current state, is extremely fragile. Our supply lines are long and easily interrupted; the distance from farm to table is very, very long and our reserves are limited. There is no common bond of civility which holds us together, no overriding concern for the physical and spiritual well-being of our fellow human beings. Our society as a whole has no moral compass pointing the way toward cooperation with our neighbors to ensure the survival of our civilization. When a disaster strikes, it will be, for most people, every human for himself or herself with little or no consideration for the preservation of society as a whole. Without some sort of common moral grounding, we have no reason to cooperate, no reason to consider important anyone’s survival but our own. This is where we are right now as a society, no matter which society we consider. As far as I can tell, there has never been any agreed-upon moral code that included every human being on earth, no fundamental agreements that bind us together as a species. We can fix that. Not easily, not quickly, but it can and should be done. If we are to survive as a species, it must be done.
I have found only one moral code that can be broadly implemented, accepted and agreed upon. This secular (meaning non-religious) moral code is called The Way to Happiness. To date, it has been tried and found successful in helping restore civility, hope and morality in a number of very different cultures and activities throughout the world. Explore it’s precepts for yourself here. I believe you will find it of great value.
I would argue that emergency preparedness to be effective must be done overtly and promoted broadly. If we are to survive in any sort of disaster, be it long-term or short-term, widespread or local, we will all need to work together. We need to have common agreements, purposes and goals in order to be able to help each other; we can only have those things if we share them with each other. Would it not be better to help your neighbors get themselves prepared for a disaster than to have to watch them struggle and probably perish in the aftermath of that event? Is it not in your own best interest to be surrounded by people who can help each other survive? Would you be able to turn away that family down the street when they came to you for food and water for themselves and their children? How would you feel if you did? Better to help them get prepared. If you help them become stronger, smarter, and more able, you enhance not only their ability to survive, but your own.
To that end, it is essential that we communicate with each other in order to share information and concerns. Throw a block party and invite all of your neighbors. Make it pot-luck and have everybody bring something to share. Talk to them and get them talking to each other. Hand out a list of suggested emergency preparedness actions that they can get started on right away. Reach out to those of your neighbors who did not come to the party. Find out what their concerns are and offer to help them get started on their own emergency preparedness plans, or, better yet, have one of the people who did come to the party talk to them. Don’t try to do it all yourself, get everyone to help. That’s what you’ll need to be doing in the event of a disaster – helping each other; you may as well begin practicing that immediately. Follow up the first meeting with others. Get everyone talking about what they are doing to get prepared; help them solve whatever problems they might be having in their efforts; throw the question out to the group and invite everyone to offer suggestions and help. Get yourself a few copies of The Way to Happiness and hand them out to your friends and neighbors.
What you ought to be working towards is being surrounded by people who agree that it is in everyone’s best interest to help each other survive, both physically and spiritually. With that agreement in place, you can start to work on improving everyone’s ability to live a better, more productive, more satisfying and, dare I suggest it, happier life. You can accomplish this in the name of emergency preparedness, but you can’t do it by withdrawing yourself from society. You will have to do it by stepping to the front of the room and leading the way.
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