Too many people today still have the idea that those who have a “prepper” mindset are on the looney fringe of society. In truth, those who make prudent preparations for hard times are merely acknowledging that hard times are a recurring part of the human experience:
We don’t buy houses in the floodplain if we can help it, because we are risk averse, even though the chance of it flooding in any given year is only 1%. Why? We will live in the house longer than one year. Over the 30-year life of a mortgage, the chance of the house flooding at least once vastly exceeds 1%, because every year is another roll of the dice…
There’s a common misconception in the media about the eventuality for which the preppers are exactly prepping. That’s because they’re a diverse group, and prep for many different things. No, they aren’t planning for a revolution to overthrow the government. (Most of them, anyway.) Mostly they’re planning to keep themselves and their families safe while someone else tries to overthrow the government. That, or zombies. (More on zombies below.)
While we don’t have any good sources of data on how often zombies take over the world, we definitely have good sources of data on when the group of people on the piece of dirt we currently call the USA attempt to overthrow the ruling government. It’s happened twice since colonization. The first one, the American Revolution, succeeded. The second one, the Civil War, failed.
Stepping through this, the average year for colony establishment is 1678, which is 340 years ago. Two qualifying events in 340 years is a 0.5882% annual chance of nationwide violent revolution against the ruling government. Do the same math as we did above with the floodplains, in precisely the same way, and we see a 37% chance that any American of average life expectancy will experience at least one nationwide violent revolution.
This is a bigger chance than your floodplain-bound home flooding during your mortgage. It’s noticeably bigger…
Two instances in 340 years is not a great data pool to work with, I will grant, but if you take a grab sample of other countries around the world you’ll see this could be much worse. Since our 1678 benchmark, Russia has had a two world wars, a civil war, a revolution, and at least half a dozen uprisings, depending on how you want to count them. Depending on when you start the clock, France had a 30-year war, a seven-year war, a particularly nasty revolution, a counter-revolution, that Napoleon thing, and a couple of world wars tacked on the end. China, North Korea, Vietnam, and basically most of the Pacific Rim has had some flavor of violent revolution in the last 100 years, sometimes more than one. With Africa, it’s hard to even conceive where to start and end the data points.
The entire piece is worth your time and consideration. As the author noted, not every “prepper” is necessarily thinking about the complete collapse of society into civil war or anarchy (although these are not completely unreasonable considerations lately). Hurricanes, floods, riots and funky new viruses each contain within them the seeds to upset the existing order, however temporarily.
We’re a highly integrated society, dependent on others for many basic things. How long could you sustain yourself and your family if left solely to your own resources at hand? The question can be overwhelming. Start small. Think of your daily necessities: food, water, shelter, personal care items, etc. Put some of those aside for the proverbial “rainy day.” Rotate your perishables (“eat what you store, store what you eat”). Increase your “rainy day” supply over time as you are able to fund and/or store it. Build a community, whether based on your extended family or well-known, like-minded people. There are no “perfect” preparations, but investing the time it takes to binge watch a series on Netflix to think these sorts of issues through can lead to some obvious courses of action you can begin to take for your particular situation.
Because sooner or later, things will change. Things will happen. And that’s not the time to start thinking about what to do. That’s the time to do.