7 things to learn from preppers

A lot of what preppers do was fairly common in earlier generations, if not to the same extreme degree: save for a rainy day; have the ability to take care of yourself; have some basic skills with hand tools. The Boy Scouts simply say “Be Prepared.” Even people who appear extreme (and may actually be so) have things to teach us, if we will watch and listen.

  1. Bad stuff happens. It does not help to be naïve or Pollyannaish about this.
  2. People who are not prepared will want to get help from those who are. This is only natural, whether someone is caught by surprise, or expected the worst and just did nothing to prepare. The story of the 10 bridesmades in Matthew 25 illustrates this point perfectly. Think of all the folks who participate in high risk behaviors – poor health habits, addictive behaviors, dangerous recreation. Think of the folks who enter wilderness areas for a day hike without adequate preparation – then need the forest service Search and Rescue to come bail them out because their iphone gps doesn’t work there.
  3. We don’t know what will happen, or when. Y2K was a great example of this – all kinds of dire predictions, none of which came to fruition. Mayan calendar predicted cataclysmic events in 2012, which did not happen. Various religious prophets will warn of impending crisis, often including specific dates and times.
  4. It helps to have a plan. At school our kids learn to come home and ask, “What is our family emergency plan in case of a fire/tornado/hurricane/earthquake/snowstorm?”
  5. Communication is key. Having a plan is less helpful if no one knows what it is or how to communicate when the bad thing does happen.
  6. During a crisis, being part of a community is preferable to going it alone.
  7. No matter the topic, some people will always take it to ridiculous extremes. Even so, these folks are our neighbors and fellow humans. Whether or not we comprehend their point of view, we do well to respect their humanity.

Whether it is TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It), in some way the #SHTF ($#!7 Hits The Fan), or something less dramatic, change is inevitable. Our earlier ways of functioning will no longer be adequate to the needs of the new day. We honor the past and present best by understanding and adapting to the changes. The changes may not be desirable long term (I’m not saying simply accept and move on).

Preppers do not seem to be spending much time looking for lasting and widely applicable solutions. “I’m gonna be ok, but you, not so much,” seems to be the prevailing attitude. I’m not sure that fits with a good long term strategy for anyone. It feels more defeatist than anything else, and driven by fear. I may be wrong, but this is the impression I get.

From what I could tell, Preppers also do not spend much time talking about the spiritual implications of their anticipated cataclysms – grief, loss, anxiety, fear, hope, despair, faith. Their religious beliefs may lead them to believe the world will end soon. Maybe they see themselves as modern day Noahs, preparing to survive the flood, in which case their concrete material actions are a response to religious beliefs. Not much of this language appears on their websites or other public faces. And I didn’t find any discussion of how they prepare for the religious, spiritual or faith experiences that will happen at TEOTWAWKI. That would be an interesting conversation.

Advent and the Doomsday Preppers

Advent lectionary readings, both Old and New Testament, and the surrounding texts, include stories of an apocalyptic nature – national collapse natural disaster (Isaiah 28-33), final judgement (Matthew 25). So, I’m watching Doomsday Preppers to imagine some other points of view.

Most of the folks presented in the series do not mention their theological perspectives. The issues are more geopolitical or natural disasters. But then, the issues described by Isaiah are also geopolitical and natural. The theological argument made is that God works through these events to bring Israel back into faithful relationship. Assyria and Babylon are portrayed as tools of God for correction and judgment, regardless of what they think their own purposes may be.

The hope of Advent is that God is also coming (has come?) to redeem and restore. In Isaiah 44:28 ff Cyrus is portrayed as God’s vehicle of redemption, again without Cyrus necessarily recognizing that he is colluding with YHWH.

My belief is that we want to be prepared in appropriate ways, and then live with hope not in our preparations, but in God’s mercy and grace.

Are you a #prepper?