National disasters in our recent history such as hurricanes, fires, floods, or civil unrest, teach us that it is wise to be ready for such contingencies. However, while I am all for being prepared, I am not quite there with the people who have underground bunkers in the back yard. I don’t have a gas mask either. Perhaps I should. I think some balance may be in order. Having only a couple days’ worth of food in the house is foolish, but having under-ground bunkers might be pushing it.
Regardless of your preparedness, or the lack thereof, there is a movement in this country that has escalated greatly over the past decade and now literally millions of individuals are self-described “preppers.” A prepper is usually a person who thinks that a serious nation-wide collapse is inevitable and prepares for not just a short-duration emergency, but long-term societal breakdown. It is an interesting phenomenon. First of all, I have nothing bad to say about these folks, they don’t bother anyone and many seek to live an off-grid rural existence. My objective here, though, is to speak towards what this rather large social movement means.
There are two primary reasons for the growth of the prepper movement: First of all, it is a reaction to an ever more urbanized society that completely lacks self-sufficiency. A few decades ago most of the population lived in rural areas and people were more self-sufficient in terms of their own sustenance. Urban and even suburban populations are dependent on the social and governmental structure that ensures the supply chain does not break down and that the lights stay on. However, this greater system dependency among the masses is only part of what fuels the prepper phenomenon.
The second and greatest factor contributing to the massive increase in preppers over the past decade is a loss of trust in the government: Federal, State, and local alike. Hurricane Katrina is a focusing event in this regard, but there are others as well. What preppers understand is that the government won’t save you; when disaster strikes you are on your own. In fact, the government might hurt you, as did the local government in the Katrina disaster when they went around confiscating guns from law abiding people right at the time when roving groups of criminal actors were tramping throughout the region and looting homes. Not only did government fail the people of the region, but it actually hurt them in a time of crisis. While it may be unreasonable to expect government of any level to be a savior, it is unacceptable that they should prove so detrimental when citizens were most in need.
And that, my friends, is why there are millions of preppers now throughout the country, as well as many millions more who don’t prep but also don’t trust the government any farther than it can be thrown. Next time around there will be a lot more people who are prepared to take care of themselves and their own because they know that government won’t be there when needed. And, next time they may not hand over their guns so easily.