February 12th, 2009

Duck and Cover, or Stand and Fight?

photo credit: Jill Greenseth

The world is falling apart.

At least, that’s what you might think if you pay attention to the news. Each day we are virtual, passive witnesses to sheer chaos: fires, murders, suicide bombings, military combat, earthquakes, economic turmoil, immorality displayed as public virtue, government corruption, and the list goes on.

Still worse, many people currently feel that the bubble is about to burst—meaning, that the problems we face today are greater and more compounded in intensity than those we’ve previously overcome. Astronomical national and personal debt, worldwide military engagements, increasing unemployment, a highly devalued dollar, and other alarms are all sounding off in people’s heads as they wake up and realize how bad things really are. What, then, are we to do? How do we react to the tidal wave of terror packaged into small sound-bytes by the local anchorman?

Given the precarious situation, and in light of the difficulty one individual has in attempting to effect change, it seems that the majority of people are in “duck and cover” mode, reminiscent of elementary school drills to prepare for an earthquake. With a looming economic earthquake about to wreak havoc, many feel that ducking and covering is the right thing to do—that instinctive urge to preserve one’s own life. This line of thinking asserts that it’s better to look after one’s self, one’s family, and help those in your sphere of influence, than to worry about trying to change the inevitable. There is a great deal of truth in this argument, and it properly manifests itself in time-tested wisdom such as having saved money on hand, food stored in your house, and a set of skills practiced and prepared for potential disaster.

But ducking and covering also implies that you’ve given up hope and are waiting for things to blow over. I believe that there will (and perhaps soon) come a time for this, but it hasn’t come yet. There is still work to be done. That work, however, should absolutely take a backseat to your personal preparedness; you are no good to anybody if you aren’t in a position to help yourself and your family should something happen. There’s no use in trying to improve society when you are inadequately prepared yourself.

Change is indeed coming, but not the kind the American people were sold by a smooth, eloquent wolf in sheep’s clothing. There will be great trials in our near future, and the situation we currently find ourselves in is not getting any better. While responsible citizens always have a charge to try to improve the direction of society and secure a better future for our children, sometimes the security of that uncertain future requires hunkering down and weathering the storm. But it’s unwise to run to the cellar until it’s absolutely necessary, since we can make better use of our time in better preparing ourselves, our neighbors, and trying to minimize the damage while it’s still possible.

Once you have adequately prepared, you are in a better position to help others, spend time on other matters (such as continuing to hold politicians accountable and lobbying for positive change), and lead those who failed to so prepare. It is here that we see the wisdom of acting, instead of being acted upon.

If you don’t have several months of food, water, medicine, and money stored away securely, then you need to act quickly. Whether the crap hits the fan hits in a week or a decade, you’ll be secure and better prepared to handle whatever does come our way. Instead of being a burden on family and friends with the needs you didn’t prepare for, you’ll be able to help others around you who failed to prepare. And maybe—just maybe—you’ll never need to use what you’ve stored and tucked away for a rainy day. But I doubt it.

We need leaders in this country who are moral, who understand and live principle, and who model their public lives after their private virtue. We need responsible, every-day citizens to carry the torch of liberty and stem the tide of tyranny approaching our doorsteps. But most of all, we need to encourage personal preparedness and general readiness for whatever is headed our way. We need you to get up and get involved, but only after you’ve readied yourself against whatever cloudy storm that may be on the horizon.

14 Responses to “Duck and Cover, or Stand and Fight?”

  1. Connor
    February 12, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    FYI, I’ll have limited computer access until Tuesday. You all better be on your best behavior!

  2. Don
    February 12, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    OR, we could just vote smarter.

    (Sorry to infuse reality into your paranoid delusions and demagoguery, I think you might just be reading a bit much into this one, and a bit too early in a new era as well. Calm down, have some hot cocoa, and read something light-hearted.)

  3. Daniel
    February 12, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    Oh, I think we voted pretty smart last time.

    Since it’s Darwin Day, perhaps an evolutionary view. We have very intelligent brains, but some of their behaviours are rooted in our evolutionary past. One such behaviour is the ability to learn by watching other people. If someone eats something bad and dies, or someone steps somewhere and falls in a hole, our brains think “Don’t do that.” It’s a good behaviour, but it does mean that we overestimate risk because if something bad happens to someone we know, our brains go on hyper-alert.

    Well, now that we have television news, everybody in the world is ‘someone we know’. We hear about every random bad thing that happens to anyone around the globe. Cognitively, we know that the odds of most of these events are low, but our human brains, the one we evolved with, are telling us “Watch out! That’s more likely to happen to you now.”

    So calming down is a good idea. The world is falling apart at about the same rate as it always has. Or falling together. Hot cocoa is always good. Curl up and read something about probabilities so you’ll be more aware of it.

  4. David Scott - Secure Survivor
    February 12, 2009 at 7:13 pm #


    I have been in the business of helping people be prepared for any emergency or disaster at home, work, school or on-the-go since early 2005 (4 months before Katrina). We started just before it became “fashionable” sell emergency preparedness kits and supplies. You’ll be pleased to note that we have seen a significant increase in both the awareness of the need to prepare and of action in that direction since 2005. When we started, most people thought we were “survivalist.” Now people understand that we are simply “prudent risk managers”. So far we’ve helped 170,000 people be secure in case of a disaster. Your readers may want to join our ongoing efforts to help make “Every Life Secure” at http://www.everylifesecure.com.

  5. Josh Williams
    February 12, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    FYI, I’ll have limited computer access until Tuesday. You all better be on your best behavior!

    Muhahahah! My evil plans are nearly complete!


    Thanks for the post. A lot more lighthearted than the previous few.

    I don’t put much stock in predictions of the future, positive or negative. Most likely it will be nothing like we imagined it would be.

    Whether America in it’s current form survives this economic turmoil depends on our weaknesses, versus our strengths. You go to length to describe America’s weakness, but what are it’s possible strengths, that can pull us back on our feet? We all now know there’s a problem, and it seems we are largely willing to work together to solve it. (As opposed to very recent history when aside from denial, we did nothing. ) This trend alone gives me much optimism.

  6. Carborendum
    February 13, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    I don’t know about the cocoa. I’m lactose intolerant.

    As far as being prepared. Heck I was a boy scout. It doesn’t hurt.

    And the thing about being in a better position to help others: I remember being told that the saying “it is better to give than to receive” was a mistranslation. That it should be “it is better to be in a position to be able to give than to be in a position where you need to receive”.

    Daniel, you’re the linguist. Is there truth to that?

  7. Carborendum
    February 13, 2009 at 9:12 am #


    Oh! The irony! When I clicked on your “probabilities” link, The first thing that loaded was an advertisement for the Church.

  8. Dave
    February 13, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    I think that either most people are reading the wrong news or not acknowledging the problems that our country and the World face. The financial crisis hasn’t even really started yet. I think it is good advice to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Too many people are in the mindset that the government will come to their rescue when things get bad. Maybe they will, but what if they don’t. This is a real possibility. Too many people relying on the government for everything even to create them new jobs. We need to give and help others in ways that helps them, while not creating a dependency problem. Our government seems to be creating a dependency problem as we speak, soon we will rely on it for everything. What if the government doesn’t meet its obligations. Look at news in California for example. I think it is very wise to be prepared.

  9. Daniel
    February 14, 2009 at 6:51 am #

    Carb: I’m no expert on Greek, but from a quick look at an interlinear translation, it doesn’t look like it. (Warning: PDF)

    The ad’s not really ironic. The page does mention the paranormal, after all.

  10. Carborendum
    February 15, 2009 at 9:13 pm #


  11. Connor
    February 16, 2009 at 11:09 pm #


    OR, we could just vote smarter.

    Many thanks for your “infusion of reality”, but the actual reality is that the American electorate would, on the average, take issue with your apparent definition of what smart voting is. Smart voting for most seems to be the same run-of-the-mill package of the welfare/warfare state we’ve had for the last few decades. So while you and I might agree on some specifics of what smarter voting would entail, the sad story is that most voters are carrying our country in a different direction.


    There’s a “Darwin day”? Who knew? I think we’re running out of days of the year that are normal, i.e. sans celebration of some dead person whose ideas and legacy we may or may not agree with.

    The world is falling apart at about the same rate as it always has.

    Well, sure. There has always been war and chaos. But the American experiment of republican liberty was instituted to insulate it from the passions and tempers of dictators, warmongers, and tyrants, thus ensuring the preservation of peace and tranquility. When I say that the world is falling apart, I’m not only referring to the world itself (which has always been in turmoil), but also America specifically.


    Emergency preparedness is definitely a good line of work to be involved in right now, and the people I know that are involved in some related field of work are definitely not feeling the effects of this recession. Keep up the good work.


    Whether America in it’s current form survives this economic turmoil depends on our weaknesses, versus our strengths. You go to length to describe America’s weakness, but what are it’s possible strengths, that can pull us back on our feet?

    I think that our strengths are in many cases affected and limited by our weaknesses. If an individual has a severe drinking problem, his gift for public speaking is going to be severely hindered by this vice. Americans do have many strengths—too numerous to list here—but if they are at all affected by their weaknesses (e.g. excessive debt, lack of preparedness, abuse, welfare dependency, etc.), then their strengths will be of little value in collectively pulling us out of this mess. We’ve gotta get “back to the basics”, since it is there we have found strength in the past. But we’re too distracted by shiny objects and talent contests right now to care.

  12. Tom
    February 19, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    the world is falling apart at about the same rate as it always has.

    Some might disagree with that. If you’re one who puts any weight at all into the Mayan Calendar, then you’d be more inclined to believe that the world, or change for a lack of a better term, is increasing at an ever increasing rate – the Mayan day/night “cycles” are getting shorter and shorter, which seem to indicate that things are either falling together or coalescing at an ever increasing pace.

    That being said, I’m of the mindset that we, as human beings, are prone to one side of the aisle or the other…with very little in between. One group will steadfastly proclaim that things may be rough, but they’re no different than the 30s, or the 40s, or the 70s or the 80s…and, based on the past, their argument can indeed be quite persuasive.

    The other group, commonly referred to as “nutjobs” or “quacks” by their counterparts, are preparing for the falling apart altogether of society as we know it. They do not have history on their side, though their is increasing current evidence to suggest that things are deteriorating at an ever quickening pace.

    I’m too young to know much about what happened to the first group, and perhaps too young to entirely agree with their rosy worldview. So, here I find myself much more closely aligned with the “nutjobs” and “quacks”, not because of any intrinsic belief that I have, and certainly not based on historical events of the past 100 years, but rather something even more ephemeral to some.

    I align myself with that group because, as a matter of course, I’ve grown up interested in business and financials. I’ve spent enough time looking at the financials of our country to realize that something is greatly amiss. Any time a country monetizes debt, as we’ve now done with the past two spending/stimulus packages, there are some inherent, grave risks that cannot and should not be entirely discounted, as the first group is apt to do.

    For a visual of what I’m referring to, here’s a link to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, and a graph that portrays the amount of borrowing our “leaders” have done since 1919. You’ll notice a significant spike in 2008…and, at least as of now, 2009 has not yet been added. So another spike will be present in the coming days.

    Couple that with already meager unemployment data (not the artificially lower “official” government numbers, but the actual data) and a society that has grown accustomed to wealth, things and the Joneses, and it’s a recipe that doesn’t leave that pleasant of a taste in ones mouth.

    These are the facts as I see them. I understand the first crowd to a degree, but unfortunately feel that the future is not on their side. Plus, my argument says nothing of the geo-political threats that are now present with Russia and China and their secret alliances, or even the Iran conflict that’s brewing. However, there’s enough compelling information regarding these threats, and other secret combinations, to make one shudder….or not.

  13. dzent1
    September 5, 2009 at 12:19 am #

    Surely you’re not proposing that the nightmare scenario our country finds itself in is Obama’s fault? Or that there is a Republican standing who is worthy of my trust after the blanket rubber-stamping of the gestapo-like techniques of the Bush/Cheney debacle?

    If there is even an inkling of that in your post, then I have no choice but to dismiss you as an apologist for liars, war profiteers and democracy destroyers, whether or not you offer good advice on preparedness. Blaming Obama for the mess Bush and his multinational corporate buddies purposely made reveals to me an immaturity and blindness to the facts that give me pause about considering the validity of anything else you have to say.

    If you care about legitimacy with your readers, then lay blame where it is due for our present circumstances. It seems you’re sucking up to multi-billionaires and their doctrine of “I’ve got mine, too bad about you”. Make some suggestions that are useful for cooperation among citizens who must suffer together no matter the prevailing political tide.

  14. Connor
    September 5, 2009 at 7:14 am #

    Surely you’re not proposing that the nightmare scenario our country finds itself in is Obama’s fault?

    Wow. Seriously?

    You obviously have not read a single other post in the archives. Not only did I not mention Obama in this post, but I have been a constant, open, and harsh critic of all things Bush.

    Before you make such accusations, do your homework. You are so wrong, it’s almost hilarious.

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