31 January 2013

Web of Expected Dependability

That's basically what any sort of preparedness boils down to. There are some really easy solutions to almost all of life's problems, and with our modern conveniences and everything basically at our fingertips, we don't worry about much:

Problem:  I'm hungry.
Solution: Fast food, or if you're desperate, something from the store that hopefully has microwave instructions.

 Problem: I'm thirsty.
Solution: Go to that magic water dispenser on your refrigerator, or open it and grab a root beer.

Problem: My kitchen is on fire.
Solution: Let it burn. Just collect the insurance... ...or call the fire department.

Problem: The power is out.
Solution: ...scream...then update your Facebook status from your phone about this crazy power outage. Sit around and wait.

Problem: Flat tire.
Solution: Call a tow truck, or your dad.

Problem: I'm cold.
Solution: Turn the heater up, but don't open the door, we're not heating the whole neighborhood.

Problem: I need to go somewhere.
Solution: Um...you get in your car and go there.

      What do we do when those modern conveniences aren't available. We wake up every day and expect them to be there, without giving it a thought. Now look at these things and consider what you would do if there were a real emergency. What if you can't order food, turn on the heat, or call the fire department? What if? Well, we need to consider all the what-if's and then think about what we can do. We can't just expect to depend on the system. There is a web that we live in and some of the strands are fragile. What can we do to strengthen the bonds between us and our needs, without expecting someone else to bridge the gap?

      This web is an abbreviated illustration of our lives. Every arrow points to whatever potentially depends on it. For example, some 9-1-1 offices potentially depend on electricity, and some don't. Last year, there were three states on the east coast during a big storm trying to tell their residents to call the non-emergency numbers for emergency services because their 9-1-1 wasn't working with the power out. Every day we go about our lives expecting that these things will work just the way they're supposed to. We may think that those outside services are our safety net. We don't have to worry, because if our web breaks down, someone will catch us, right? After Hurricane Katrina, the response was incredibly slow. Too slow. When help did come, it was too little and too late. If you don't know the kind of horrors that happened, you can look them up. Some of the worst was at the Superdome, what was supposed to be a safe-haven. You can click here for some pictures of how awful some of Hurricane Katrina was.
     Recently, there was a devastating super-storm on the East Coast. The response was better, I guess, but there were still major shortfalls. While that's a conversation for a later time, I think it needs to be pointed out that there are some victims of Hurricane Sandy, three-months later, who still don't have electricity and have to go to "warming centers" to get some heat. These warming centers are often nothing more than a tent with a heater and some donuts or something.

  What now?  
     Okay, so we know how good we've got it, and we know how bad it can be, and we know that we can't really depend on "the system" if anything goes wrong. Well, who says we should? We can take any one of our needs and we can do something to become self-sufficient, or self-dependent, no longer dependent on those strands of the web that hold us to them. What I'm really talking about is a short-term answer. We've talked about storing water for at least three days.We're starting with a minimum, but build it up to have more. We talked about always keeping your gas tank at least half full. Well, if there is an emergency, any part of that web up there can be cut off. If you have food, water, and fuel, then you don't need to go to the grocery store or gas station, or even turn on your faucet. If you have extra water, you can even flush your toilet. If you have a generator or another alternative energy source, then when the power is out, you'll be just fine. If we get the skills we need, we can take care of some fires and medical emergencies, as well as other would-be emergencies.

     I've been thinking a lot about our "Web of Expected Dependability," or web of things we expect to be able to depend on. It is fragile and complex. What is attached above is an extremely simplified version, since we could put every normal activity on this web. The problem is when we look to others for our support, whether in an emergency or not. The truth is, if we always had someone to take care of us, we would never have to face an emergency. Each item we discuss and every skill we cover will hopefully lead us to the goal of self-sufficiency, even if it is short-term and limited. Just as long as it can get us out of a sticky situation. Anything we can do for ourselves now allows us to be free to help others(and ourselves) later, and free from being a burden to others, as well. When help does arrive, shouldn't we be helpful or at least stay out of their way?

1 comment :

  1. There is so much truth in the fact that when we are totally self sufficient we'd have no need to find ourselves in an emergency, because emergencies are only deemed such when we are not prepared. Let's get busy peoples!