It’s interesting to note the negative connotations attached to the word “preparedness”. Most people equate preparedness with the image of paranoia, conspiracy theories and a negative view on organized government. However, the true definition of preparedness couldn’t be farther from that stereotype. Preparedness is less of a “lifestyle”, and more of a “mindset” that defines your lifestyle. It highlights independence, sustainability and the ability to care for your family without outside assistance.
For example, let’s take one of the common preparedness methods – stockpiling food. Critics assume that families that store extra food are preparing for the “apocalypse” or entertaining thoughts of a government-wide rebellion. However, storing extra food in your home is a great way to have insurance against any potential interruption in the food supply chain. For example, during Hurricane Katrina, most of the residents of New Orleans were unable to purchase food from grocery stores – instead, they had to rely on handouts from disaster assistance volunteers and government workers. What if each of those families had kept a one month supply of extra food in their home? In reality, storing extra food is a smart way to ensure that your family won’t have to rely on outside assistance for food during a disaster.
Another of the concepts of preparedness involves growing your own food. Again, some critics assume that those with home gardens are conspiracy theorists who believe grocery store food contains sterilization agents, cancer-causing chemicals or other components. [Note: It has been proven that many of the pesticides used on commercial produce have the potential to be carcinogenic, so this is less of a ’conspiracy theory’ and more of a valid concern.] However, that shouldn’t be the focus of a home garden. Instead, growing your own food highlights sustainability, and the ability to feed your family independent of the commercial food supply. Instead of being a symptom of paranoia, growing your own food is a great way to take charge of your family’s nutrition.
It’s true that there are different levels of the preparedness mindset, ranging from an extra week’s worth of stored food, to complete “off the grid” living with an independent power system. Even when considering the most extreme preparedness veterans, their lifestyle choices are a personal freedom that we all have. So what if your neighbors want to homeschool their children, or grow their own vegetables? Helping more families have a “backup” method that makes them less dependent on organized networks will ensure resilience during a disaster. How much money could our government save on aid, if people were able to be self-sustainable even after electricity and food chains were disrupted?
Jim Rawles is the creator of SurvivalBlog.com, a “daily weblog for prepared individuals”. Topics on his blog range from storing extra canned food to creating a sophisticated “off the grid” electrical system complete with solar, wind or hydroelectric power. His and other preparedness blogs focus on the importance of self-reliance and sustainability, especially in difficult financial times.
So, to answer the question “Paranoia or Preparedness?” – preparedness as a concept in itself isn’t always a symptom of paranoia. Instead, it’s a personal mindset to create a sustainable, self-reliant lifestyle that focuses on family security.