20 January 2013

Knowledge is...responsibility?

      I just read a book. Yeah, the whole thing. It was Emergency by Neil Strauss.

     I don't want to do a book review, and I won't even recommend it for everyone, but it has given me a lot to think about, so I'll share a little of what it's about. Pretty much, the author tries to do everything he can to be able to survive any sort of catastrophe. He grew up in the city and was really good at ordering room service and that was about it. Through his experiences he learns about himself and different kinds of people. He even takes flying lessons and gets a second passport. He goes to a wilderness tracking school and an urban survival class. He learns a lot of skills to help him escape and get out of trouble. He learned to shoot. He learned to live without modern conveniences and became pretty good at all of that. He spent time online learning about survival, and that led him to take a Community Emergency Response Team(CERT) class. He figured it might be easier to escape if he's got an official looking helmet and vest if he came across a checkpoint or something. Well, that's where things start to turn. He learned how the system works in an emergency. He eventually decided to take an EMT class, because he wanted a little stress inoculation. I'm not sure if that's how it works, but he was willing to try anything. He joined a volunteer branch of the police department and by the end of it, he found himself running toward disasters instead of away from them. He had made himself useful. He still had all the skills he learned, but he wasn't using them to get away or help himself, he was using them for others.
     Do you remember the School House Rock theme song? Every time I hear the phrase, "knowledge is power," I sing that part of the song in my head.

      We also learn from Uncle Ben(Spiderman's wise uncle, not the rice guy) that "with great power comes great responsibility." So if knowledge is power, then with knowledge comes responsibility. I think that when it comes to things like preparedness, there is quite a serious responsibility. Of course, if you know much about the "prepper" community, it seems that the focus is getting out and as far away from people as possible. I suppose if there were ever a complete doomsday-type collapse, that would probably be a good option, but what if we decide to stick around?
     What I believe is that each of us will encounter a real emergency or disaster some time in our lives. Is it going to be the worst-case scenario? Probably not, but who really knows? Disasters are typically localized. If you've seen pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was a complete post-apocalyptic, worst-case scenario world, but it was local. Disasters are usually local. What we really need to be ready for is figuring out how to survive until the untouched world can get to us, until trucks with supplies are brought in. We are so dependent on a fragile system that any sort of disaster has the potential of cutting us off from the rest of the world. In my town, the power was out and we couldn't even make a cell phone call. In hurricane Katrina, people were dying of thirst right here in America. The "system" couldn't get them what they needed quickly enough, and unfortunately, a lot people depend solely on the system. So we need to be a bit more independent... and dependable.
     Does anyone else feel they have a responsibility to others in an emergency? People who, if there was a disaster, might show up at your house, maybe even grossly unprepared. They wouldn't bring a trailer full of survival tools and their food storage. They'll have things that you'll scratch your head at wondering why they grabbed that out of everything they had in their house. If this happens, maybe because there are people that know we are trying to be prepared, we'll welcome them in with open arms.

     I know each disaster will be different, but chances are, the disasters we face will not last very long, relatively speaking. When it's the end of the world as we know it, it's not the end of the world, just as we know it. When worlds are shattered, people don't know what to do or what to expect. Why I started this blog is partly because my wife and I were talking to some family we had over at our house. We were trying to figure out what we would need in an emergency and we were putting together 72-hour kits to start off with. There was a point during the evening while we were learning about a few things that one of them said that what he had learned in the last twenty minutes was that if he was ever in a disaster, he would have died. Of course he wouldn't, but while we were learning new things, we all realized that knowledge does give us power, and in an emergency it is the power to stay alive... and keep others alive.

     If we had a disaster tomorrow, ready or not, they are welcome here if they need it. Not only can they come over, but he and I might go back to their nearby home and maybe get what he left behind. On our way, we'll stop by neighbors' houses to see if they are okay and see if they need anything. We'll ask them what their plans are and let them know to stop by if they need help, or that we'll stop by later to make sure things are going well.

     Pretty soon, the world will be back to normal and either your neighbors will hate you for not helping them[or would hate you if they had survived(worst case)], or they will be ever grateful for what you did for them and will then want to be more self-sufficient. When we look back on whatever happened, we need to be happy with the person we were.

    If we honestly evaluate ourselves, we've all got a lot to learn. I'm here because I'm always trying to learn more about being prepared. There are real things we can do to help others and to be prepared if we want to do them. We don't have to let our lives be consumed, and we shouldn't. Life goes on. It goes on before a disaster, after a disaster, and even during a disaster. Of the things you can do, and what I have done, is take a CERT class. It's one of the best ways, I think, for us normal-ish people to be prepared for responding to a disaster. I'll give an overview of how my class went in my next post, so stay tuned.

1 comment :

  1. We had a neighbor in Redding who had an entire room set up as food storage. It was insulated and secured and big! But the amazing thing about it was they had planned this out, not just for themselves, but with the idea in mind that someone may come to them for help in an emergency situation. They wanted to be prepared to assist when needed. Your blog has reminded me of this selfless act. I hope I won't just read and hear of these things, but truly live them as well. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!