“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
My wife and I watched Kingsman: The Secret Service recently. It's a fantastic movie; I highly recommend it. In the movie, the hero's mentor shares this Hemingway quote with him. It's good for us to ponder its truth as well.
This story in Chicago Magazine reminded me of Hemingway's thoughts of nobility. The Week even picked the story up for an excerpted version, entitling it Preppers: Meet The Paranoid Americans Awaiting The Apocalypse.
Preppers seek a sense of nobility - to be seen not as "paranoid Americans awaiting the apocalypse" but rather as good citizens doing what they can to ameliorate the various risks we face in a modern society. Make no mistake - I don't believe anyone featured in the linked articles is taking irrational measures. We should all be as aware of the world around us as these citizens are. Our social media feeds and grocery store magazine racks are filled with self-help and self improvement articles. Why is improving your fitness or diet acceptable to the masses while improving your readiness to handle crises a symptom of a mental illness?
Yet preppers struggle to shake off pejorative terms and descriptions like "paranoid" and (from the article) "who otherwise seems like a perfectly reasonable man." The clear implication is that someone who is taking active, robust measures to improve their resiliency is not a "perfectly reasonable man" or woman.
Of course, the people the author interviewed and attempted to interview for the article didn't exactly project a chamber of commerce mentality. Many are reticent to share their thoughts on preparedness and the details of their efforts.
There's good reason for this. OPSEC, or “operational security,” dissuades many in the preparedness movement from sharing information or knowledge with others, lest their stored supplies be discovered and requisitioned. Before you cast aspersions on people who feel this way, consider the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has deemed bulk purchases of MREs, waterproofed match containers and flashlights as “potential indicator of terrorist activities.” Is it any surprise that many people prefer to keep their preparedness efforts confidential?
I certainly sympathize with those who have OPSEC concerns. I am frustrated by the fact that one federal agency (FEMA) tells us to “make a kit and have a plan,” while another agency (the FBI) simultaneously asks disaster preparedness vendors to report purchases of items that would be handy to have in an emergency. Apparently, there’s a certain amount of preparedness items the federal government wants us to have. What that amount is, of course, remains a mystery.
Despite these concerns, if the preparedness movement is going to attain the nobility it seeks, it will require many of us to put aside our OPSEC fears and become leaders - public leaders - in the movement. That means some of us need to be willing to identify ourselves as preppers and be willing to talk openly and frankly with others in an effort to get people to make preparedness a priority.
I realize what I am advocating borders on heresy. Rule number one about prepping is "don't talk about prepping." I would submit to you that rule is utter nonsense. If you want people to stop thinking we're "paranoid" or saying we're "otherwise perfectly normal," we have to become apostles of our movement. We need to be setting an example so that others can see the benefits of what we are doing - building more resilient families and communities to better endure the risks we face.
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