Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Step AWAY from the computer!

I appreciate the fact that you find this blog interesting enough to check out every now and then. I also appreciate the email I get commenting or asking questions about what I write – it motivates me somewhat and lets me know I’m not just typing into space.

I bet most of you surf a good bit on the Internet. Some of you may even be “brave” enough to post on some of the myriad of boards, chat rooms and what not. That’s good, this is the 21st century after all and this is one way of socializing. One way.

I hang out fairly regularly on a number of preparedness-oriented boards on the ‘net and I even moderate a couple. I’ve been doing so for almost 10 years and in that time I have made some observations and come to some conclusions about those who haunt the various preparedness/survivalist sites:

More people merely read (“lurk”) than contribute
For most, it’s more of a social environment than a learning one
Most people do very little other than type
A good number download reams of information and store it in their “libraries”
Those who actually take significant steps towards preparedness are in the minority
Of the actual “preppers” – most never get out and socialize in person with other preppers

I am not being judgmental (yet) about folks. As my buddy, Bud says, “it is what it is”. If surfing preparedness sites and blogs like this one blows your skirt up; if your “preparedness ‘net activity” is just a substitute for (and, I admit – a better alternative to) watching millionaire talk show hosts or soap operas – fine. It’s all good.

But if the small, quiet, yet persistent voice in the back of your head keeps telling you to get ready for what is coming down the pike – then I have some suggestions for you. In fact, I have two and both involve (gasp!) stepping away from your computer. They are:

1. Start doing stuff
2. Socialize with other (real) people

Start doing stuff

You’ve heard the phrase, “if you want to learn something – teach it”. That’s because you (assuming you are normal) will not really “know” something until you try it, think about any mistakes you made, do it again and again until you get right, and then eventually know it well enough to teach it. If you decide to teach something you have a strong motivator (usually ego – fear of embarrassment) to really learn it as opposed to just sitting back and passively taking it in.

I chuckle (and at times want to cry) when I see folks include first aid books in their BOBs (bug out bags). Now, having a BOB means one has thought through the various reasons why having one is a good idea and has actually taken some steps to mitigate potential future problems. If they can envision those, they ought to be able to realize that when they or their loved one is bleeding, choking, or otherwise injured it is time for action – not research.

Should you own a book on first aid? Absolutely – you should own more than one. And you should periodically pull them off the shelf and review. And then (here is the crux) you should practice the techniques you read about. Practice so that when you actually have to do first aid – in the dark, in the rain, under serious time pressure – you have confidence in your abilities. As long as I am going on about first aid – sign up for a Red Cross course in your area – they are cheap to free.

That’s just one example. There are a bazillion others. Because when it is time for action, there is very little time for research. You will have to KNOW some things. You will have to OWN some skills. The time to learn, to do, to know- is now.

Practice starting fires – in the rain, in the dark, in the snow. I don’t care where you live – even if you live in an apartment you can do it in a grill on the back deck, go to a local park and use the grill on a stand – whatever. Starting fires is easy – when you know how. I am very good at starting fires – I can do it in all kinds of conditions – and sometimes I have difficulty.

How about some real basic “to dos”: Start a food storage program. Store some water. Practice a fire drill. Teach your entire household basic first aid. Change your own oil. Heck, go change your tire.

Cook. Cook from scratch. Grind flour. Plant a garden. Can your veggies. Zero your rifle. Shoot a squirrel. Repair your jeans. Sew a dress.

The list is endless – just go DO something. Something other than type, read, print, store. You’ll be glad you did.

Socialize with other people

I said most folks just read as opposed to doing anything. That is true. But of those who actually do stuff – most of them do it alone or only with their immediate family / household. There are a bunch of reasons people give but they boil down to one: fear.

Fear of ridicule is a big one though most won’t admit it. With neighbors and community members they fear ridicule from those who see no need to prepare and being labeled as a nut. They also fear getting together with others of like mind - because they fear ridicule for what they don’t know. Some also talk a big game on the internet and then are embarrassed to show their real self to those they misled. Get over it.

They also fear “people knowing about my preparations” – they are paranoid. I would just say to these folks – there is a big difference between discussing preparedness with folks and inviting them into your arms room, food pantry, or whatever. Use a little discretion.

When you get together with others you will learn things. Valuable things. One may be how to get along with others. Someone always knows more about something than you do – learn from him or her. The way to do that is to get together.

Here is reality folks: people need other people. Humans are social creatures. We are at our best when we work as cohesive groups. You will learn more and better if you do so with others. You will do much better during any kind of catastrophe if you are assisted by like-minded people. That group will do much better if it is formed prior to any emergency. Groups go through what is known as “Forming, Storming, Norming and then Performing”. You can Google it if you are interested but basically, it takes time and effort to form a cohesive group – a team. Just like the best time to learn how to stop an arterial bleed is before the accident occurs – the best time to get together with others is before a crisis.

If you cannot work well with others now, when life is pretty darn good – what makes you think it will all work out after some emergency? It won’t.

Get out and DO stuff.
Get out and do stuff with other people.
Step away from the computer and immerse yourself in life.
See ya out there.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at vikingservices@hotmail.com

Prepared Americans for a Strong America


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