We've had a rough two weeks.
From high profile cases of law enforcement's use of deadly force, to five Dallas law enforcement officers being gunned down while providing security at a peaceful protest against law enforcement's use of deadly force, to the terror attack in Nice and a coup attempt in Turkey, much in the way of violence, strife, uncertainty, and angst has captivated the world's attention.
And next week, we begin the two week process of the national political parties hosting their respective conventions, both of which will no doubt be controversial and inspire more protests about the state of things in America.
We're in for a long summer, I am afraid.
So it comes as no surprise that the internet - which does a lot of wonderful things for us - is inundated with news stories, opinion pieces, memes and other messages relaying not only the latest news but also attempting to rally people to a particular side of an issue. It's a free country, and we celebrate the First Amendment that gives us the right to do that.
With this inundation comes reaction. Some react by sharing thoughts and articles on social media, which no doubt makes the social media stakeholders happy. Trending news stories and opinions drive traffic, which in turn creates opportunities for internet marketers to click bait readers into other articles or advertisements.
Yet for those of us who want to encourage meaningful culture change, we're well aware that there is no one weird trick to get people to focus their energy on productive ways to improve society. We also know that doctors do not hate treatment or prevention regimens that make the public healthier, smarter, or more active in the community. And many of us wish the cameraman would in fact do more recording....of things that actually matter that showcase efforts where people and neighborhoods are becoming more resilient and solving problems themselves.
In short, using social media is not a good substitute for doing your own due diligence and taking meaningful action.
I've been reminded of that a lot lately, as friends reach out to me to ask what steps they should be taking to be better prepared in the wake of recent events and the angst that can be felt when perusing social media feed. I'm telling them to do four things:
Do the basic preparedness tasks that FEMA, the Red Cross, myself, and a bunch of other people have been encouraging Americans to do for quite some time now. This involves having some food, water, cash, and medical supplies stored at home. It means having a "get home bag" in your vehicle, suitable for you and your family's unique situation. Most people can do that over a weekend.
What we are seeing, however, is that many beginners are overwhelmed when they first get started in preparedness. If you're new to prepping, start with this simple checklist. Following the checklist will put you in a position to be prepared for 72 hours; I would recommend you bump that up to two weeks. If you are prepared for two weeks, you will be able to handle most emergencies.
Experienced preppers should be checking their supplies and plans to ensure things are up to speed. Check your batteries. Are your supplies adequate? Does all of your gear work? Do your plans need updating? What deficiencies can you find in your supplies or planning?
Help your family make its own plans. One of the things I am working on this weekend is creating some emergency planning and guidance for my stepdaughter, who will be a freshman at an out of state university this fall. (I hope to post more on that in the next couple of weeks.) What do you want your family to do in the case of an emergency?
Our "family" may not just be the residents of our household. They could include relatives living across town or across the country. It might also include close friends and neighbors. Make sure these folks have what they need in terms of supplies and planning.
If you are a person of faith, use that as a way to prepare your mind and to guide your actions moving forward. Our faith can be a wonderful tool to improve ourselves and our outlook on things. It can motivate us to be stronger, better prepared and more helpful to others. Pray for guidance, wisdom, and peace. Pray for families directly affected by violence. Pray for the healing of our nations.
Get active in the community. This is where I lose a lot of people. "Paul , what does being active in the community do to make me and my family better prepared?" It does a lot. For example:
And a few things not to do:
Retreat into an echo chamber and not take any action. Visiting with like minded friends is fine. But if that's the only thing you're doing, then you're not helping yourself. No one ever got prepared by complaining about the current state of things.
Fall for the false choices presented by those who want to promote strife. The conflict industrial complex wants us to believe that there is in fact one side you should take, and that by taking that side, you'll be pitted against another group of people you're told hate you anyway. This conflict creation is done by design by those who have a vested interest in creating strife. You do not have to be against one group of your fellow countrymen in order to be supportive of another group of your fellow countrymen.
Believe that we are doomed. Like many of you, I think we face some difficult challenges and times ahead. The last two weeks are proof of that. And things could in fact get worse. But as I have said before, we are resilient species and a resilient nation. We have accomplished much and overcome much as well. We get to create our future. Be prepared and realistic about what challenges we may face, but don't forget we can also set a better course for our future.
There is no "one weird trick" that will fix what ails our nation. The only people who "hate" something beneficial are those with a vested interest in seeing us fighting among ourselves. And in the modern era of the citizen journalist, you can be the cameraman that reports what's going on in your life and community that will make us stronger. In short, take the actions you can to prepare yourself and then be ready to help others.
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.