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Recently, National Geographic Channel ran a (documentary?) on survivalists, entitled Doomsday Preppers. The families who participated were portrayed as rather extreme in their activities to prepare for the end of the world as we know it. The mother in one family was heard to say that they had no other purpose in life but to prepare for the end of the world. Another family, one with young children, was shown having a practice drill for putting on gas masks and biohazard suits. The third group included four families who were putting together their own prepper community complete with an undisclosed, 55 acre, bugout location where the families would meet up and live in the event that the economy collapsed and the break down of civilization ensued. The final segment introduced the audience to an older gentlemen who had a complete fallout shelter, stocked and ready for his family in the event of a nuclear holcaust. The special did an excellent job of giving these families a dramatic and perhaps sensational portrayal. But in light of many recent events such as recession and natural disasters, just how crazy is it to prepare for catastrophy?
First of all, there is a certain amount of editing involved in the depiction of these families. Lisa Bedford, the suburban mother and "prepper" who was heard to say that they had not other purpose in life other than to prepare for the end of the world, writes a blog, which can be seen at http://survivalmom.com. After seeing the show, she posted that, among other things her comment was edited to suit the tenor of the show. Her actual comment had been that she could see why some people might think that they had no other purpose in life but to prepare for the end of the world. She tried to explain that preparedness is a part of her family's life, but not the extent of it. They like to do all of the things other families do, they just happen to have enough supplies set aside to carry their family for a time, should they need it.
Second, many people have the notion that preppers are gun toting extremists, living in the middle of the woods, who are preparing for the end of the world. While that may be true of some, many preppers live in suburban settings and some don't even own a gun. In fact, some of them are not even preparing for the end of the world. Rather, they are setting aside a years supply in case of emergency.
Are preppers crazy extremists? I suppose that would depend on the individual. But lets take a look at recent history. One of the biggest complaints about Hurricane Katrina, was that it took FEMA so long to take action. Severe weather has been the cause of major devestation in places like Asia, Haiti and even the midwest. In the U.S. we have also seen a recession that we are told is over, but is certainly dragging its feet. Unemployment is high and there have been many home forclosures. Even if the end of the world is not eminent, there are enough people suffering personal disasters as to make preparedness look a lot less like fringe lunacy, and a lot more like sound advice. Consider this: people purcase insurance to protect homes and vehicles. They even purchase insurance to replace income and care for loved ones should the unforseen occur and this is not considered morbid; it is considered good common sense. How much more sense does it make to set by provisions to care for one's self and family in the event that there is job loss, natural disaster or, yes, even major economic collapse?
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