Throw the gear aside and let me ask YOU a question.
How well are you prepared?
You may be looking at your computer screen or phone silently saying, “oh no, here he goes again” or “why does Bravo Echo keep asking the same question.” Well, I promise you I do not have a list that I cycle through and then start over. I promise you there are many topics I could write about. One of the biggest concerns I have is trying to get the point across to every likeminded preparer they need to do an initial risk assessment of their mind and how they process things and then continue to exercise and assess how they handle task, stress, events, life changes, and major decision-making.
Our brain is the most powerful resource we have. How we train, condition, and use it makes it the most important tool we have in our toolbox. Yet we are conditioned as humans to do x, y, z as taught and call it conditioning training. We buy all kinds of equipment for the “just in case” disaster type events. I believe in many minds of people who prepare, there is still the silent voice that say’s “it will never happen.” We all hope it will not happen. But why buy a tuxedo and keep it in your closet for your wedding if your mindset is you never want to get married?
I believe our lack of training with our gear and equipment today, right now, possibly hampers our creativity and ability to do tasks outside of mental exercises. We convince ourselves we can do the task so why worry about it. Can we? Some of us lived the life with years of military life, training and deployments. We grow older and our bodies slow, but mentally we should still be able to handle psychological things for the most part.
Let me elevate the point. Have you ever turned off the power and lived 72 hours to one week with no electricity? I mean no generators, no solar power, nothing. Have you tried it seasonal to where you can experience all seasons if your location will allow it. No status, no money, no credit cards, nothing. You are not just dealing with your own emotions and abilities. You now have each family member and/or team member to deal with.
As time passes and the electricity does not return, tensions increase when folks realize the circumstance is the same and life, as they knew it has deteriorated beyond recognition. How will your mind grasp this reality? When you witness the first, second, fifth, tenth and beyond, starving child, how will you react? What will your response be after going 30 days, 60 days, or longer, with no electricity and you witness friends who are starving? They are killing each other for a bite of a dead animal found in a ditch. Gross, huh. A starving mind is a different tool from the rested and fed mind.
No electricity X no fuel X no trucks X no transportation X no resupplied resources X no food = starving humans = starving families = starving towns/cities = total chaos.
This is the bottom line point that alarms me for a high percentage of folks who prepare. Being or seeing a starving human is an absolute game changer for everyone else. Seeing it is one thing, dealing with it is another. You are dealing with the human factor as well as the reality the trucks have stopped and all the needed resources to live are no longer available to you, or anyone. Everyone is looking for the same thing. Food. Here in America, even the class labeled poor, lives better on the scale compared to the poor in many third world nations. I can tell you from experience, seeing the starving children with bloated stomachs and filthy bodies certainly will affect the human psyche. We are truly a privileged class of people living in America. Imagine waking up each morning knowing you must go search for some form of food just to survive the day. Now realize everyone around you has the same challenge. Everyone around you will be a threat to your life. Not eating is a threat to your life. The breakdown of the human mind and body due to nutritional loss is a threat to your life. Starving animals around you is a threat to your life. Depending where you live, the weather may be a threat to your life. The person(s) who controls the food and can protect it from the starving masses will be king for the day.
Back around the year 2000, I was returning from my 30-month tour of duty covering Eastern and Western Europe, part of Africa and the Balkan region. I remember flying to Fort Walton Beach, FL to my next assignment at Headquarter Air Force Special Operations Command. I would be the new Command Superintendent for Anti-terrorism. I felt like I needed to be a human megaphone to announce to those around me what was coming towards the United States in the form of terrorism. No matter how I tried to spell t-e-r-r-o-r-i-s-m to those around me, it was not real to them until 911. They had to see it and witness it. The description of a movie is only a description until you see the movie. Then you decide if the movie was as good as the person telling the description. People had to witness what I was trying to tell them.
In the recent past, trying to educate people to the vulnerabilities of our national grid and the threat our national debt holds over our head has been difficult. I would say one out of every fifteen people gets it. You decide for yourself. Conduct this exercise in your own life and home then decide if you can survive. Here is the test. First, you have to be honest and you cannot cheat. Fist bump swear.
Okay….ready…..set….GO. Go straight to your breaker box and turn off your power. Then go straight to the street and turn off your water. You CAN NOT go shop to buy or stock food. You MUST conduct this exercise based on what you have right now. Remember, FEMA and the Federal Government recommend you have a 7 to 10 day supply of food and water on hand at all times. Can you pass this phase of the test? This is the basic requirement. If you are a real “Preparer” then you should be well beyond the 7 to 10 day level. Right? Now, consideration this. You are simply trying to survive with no electricity or water provided. You are trying to survive with what you have. Are you stressed yet? Cold yet? Hot yet? How are the field showers working out for you and your family? Are you tired of the drastic change to your life? Now, realize this, this is just YOU adjusting to the drastic lifestyle change. This has not even introduced all the threats around you. This does not include YOU having to leave your home daily to go find food and water. This does not include bloated bodies around you. Think about that. If the simple test of eliminating utilities makes your life hard, how will you handle the rest?
Why are so many like-minded individuals caught up in the news phase of government level turmoil and like to be considered a preparer yet can’t move past the news phase. I would bet 9 of 10 in this category will run out of food before they realize they are in trouble. They repeatedly know something is wrong yet show no movement to overcome the problem. Not an insult, simply the truth. It is a personal choice and I cannot change it for individuals. I feel I am being dishonest if I do not continue to sound the alarm and give every person the information to get prepared.
Maybe it is analysis paralysis – the normalcy bias.
Much of the problem appears to be normalcy bias or the ostrich effect. Some may say it is the incredulity response and analysis paralysis. In situations of danger, some people enter a mental state known as the normalcy bias. This is when people deny that what is happening to them or even taking place. The normalcy bias can affect people who are under threat or persecution. Documented studies of Hurricane Katrina reported this to be the case. There are many documented cases from the battlefield also. Folks who suffer economic strife personally or in a region can suffer normalcy bias. The normalcy bias has severe consequences. When people fail to face the facts of an imminent disaster such as financial crisis, or act to protect their loved ones or their assets from danger that might be developing around them, the negative effect that the disaster has on them is much greater.
People who face the situation early and start taking measures to alleviate the impact that the disaster has on their loved ones and their assets are more likely to survive the disaster and even, in some cases benefit from it. How we train is most likely how we will play or react to the event. Doing scenario drills in your mind for every conceivable situation is a great mental exercise. When possible, physically do the same exercise and see how it varies from the mental exercise.
It will never happen.
This form of normalcy bias comes from people who have never had a situation happen to them before. They use the fact that an event has never happened to justify their belief that it will never happen. As an example of the ostrich effect, think of a country that has never experienced a weather disturbance such as a hurricane or typhoon. Some persons living in a country that has never had a hurricane, typhoon or tsunami would find it hard to believe that one could hit their country.
Here is another point we all must remember. Analysis paralysis can happen at every level. Just look at Katrina. The local government failed the people and many supporting agencies failed to imagine any disaster to reach the magnitude of Katrina. Persons affected by the normalcy bias might take inadequate preparations in terms of emergency food, emergency shelter, or emergency medication, even after warnings about a possible hurricane, tsunami, or other weather disturbance that could have disastrous consequences. I have found that most people who live with normalcy bias also have zero preparedness steps completed. Then again, why would they. Nothing is going to happen or else the government will take care of me. They can spend hours watching national news showing disaster areas where folks are homeless. They shed tears for the people on the screen yet will not give a second thought to the fact it could be them.
How can we improve on analysis paralysis? Do remember the other drum I like to beat? Risk Analysis and Assessments? Analysis paralysis can be beat with the following approach to dealing with an emergency or unforeseen event. Try these three steps:
- Face the facts
- Check through possible options for dealing with the disaster
- Choose the best option and take action immediately
The severity of what I am talking about on a large scale will not be easy to adjust or accept. How we overcome any analysis paralysis is strictly up to us. We must face the facts, quickly checking through possible options for dealing with the disaster, choosing the best option and taking action immediately, can save lives.
Just remember, how we train our brain to facts and realities today, possible changes and future realities tomorrow, will most likely be our best path forward. Learning to recognize and adjust to changes no matter the severity will benefit us a great deal. Think outside the box and always remember, what may seem crazy today could easily be reality tomorrow.
Bravo Echo Out