|Mad Max The Road Warrior|
Stu, my accountant, once told me, “It’s not that people get more eccentric as they get older, they just care less about hiding it”. Stu is on to something here; one of my own long hidden eccentricities is that I worry a little bit about The End of The World As We Know It. I’m not talking about the natural disasters that knock out some of our communities for weeks and months, terrible and devastating as those are. I’m talking about The Big One, the total collapse of civilization, End of Days type stuff.
I have to ‘fess up right off the bat: my survival skills are minimal and if The Big One hits, I’ll last about a week. My disaster preparedness is half-hearted and sporadic: I take note of neighborhood fallout shelters and when I see on the news that a big storm is coming, I tell my husband to top off the gas in the car. Or I’ll read a Red Cross or FEMA brochure and then my family will wonder why suddenly twelve gallons of drinking water are in the hall closet along with many, many packs of batteries. I have a really good first aid kit that I forget to restock and sometimes I look on the internet for solar powered radios I never get around to buying.
My husband and kids don’t know about this little niggling worry. I think it’s just great that one of my daughters wants to be an engineer when she grows up (she can build us a generator and simple machines if we need them). The girls think I’m encouraging them to learn to sew because of an interest in reviving housewifely arts, but it’s really because I won’t have anything to wear if Lord & Taylor’s isn’t around anymore. But, while I keep my SHTF concerns to myself, I wonder if maybe some of my family members have a few worries of their own. One of my daughters seems fascinated by a possible Zombie Apocalypse and, judging by this video that went viral because of Ellen, (Save the cat!) she is certainly not alone.
I only started mentioning my EOTWAWKI fears to other people the past couple of years, and I’m surprised (maybe I shouldn’t be) that most of the people I talk to about it, they worry about it, too. Usually their response is as minimal as my own. One of my former staff, one of the most laid back people I know but who, like me, watched for weeks the plume of smoke rise up from what was once the World Trade Center, he keeps iodine tablets in his desk drawer. He says it will protect his thyroid in case of a dirty bomb. A colleague who is the COO at an agency I partner with, his plan is to “head upstate to stay with my friend from the Army, he knows where all the guns are”. I also told my husband if we ever have another 9/11, “don’t worry about connecting with me, grab the girls and head North, we can find each other later”.
Some of my friends have more elaborate plans, though. A neighbor, who never does anything halfway, knows the person in charge of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (I didn’t even know LEPCs existed until she told me about them) and she is going to pin her survival hopes on him. She told me a lot of other things about emergency preparedness that made my head spin. She also said she would “leave NYC, because people in the cities will all turn on each other”. It seems like a lot of us city folk plan on heading to the country after the Apocalypse. I guess the country folks’ own emergency planning involves how to fend off the city people all heading their way.
I have other friends who take the opposite approach: a philosophical shrug of the shoulders. One friend, a scientist, said if a big meteor hits the earth, and knocked it out of position just by a little bit, we would all be fried by radiation immediately. There are a lot of meteors out there, he says, and nothing one can do about it, so why worry? Another friend, a Classicist, says Greek tragedy is a reminder that the human experience is like walking a route through quicksand with terrible perils all along the way, but that most of the time we somehow get through it without even thinking about it. And it’s the not thinking about it part that keeps us sane. So, perhaps we just need to trust in a loving God whose hand keeps all of the meteors away and lifts us above the quicksand despite our own best efforts to sink.
I’ve decided, like my more philosophical friends, that I can’t really prepare for TEOTWAWKI, so I will take that off the to-do list. I’m sure I’ll still think about it once in a while, when I read about scientists concerned that melting permafrost might release microbes we have no resistance to , or if it looks like a world leader (maybe even our own) has higher-than-average odds of unleashing the nuclear dogs of war. But I’ll try not to think about it too much.
Instead, I’ll work more on developing real preparedness for real emergencies. I know there is a large and heroic network of public and private agencies and volunteers who work hard behind the scenes to prevent catastrophes, who educate and prepare us for their occurrence and who have a plan in place to rebuild after they happen; I’m going to trust in them and follow their recommendations for preparedness. I suspect there is also a less publicized plan in place in case of global meltdown (like that cave in Norway where all of the world’s seeds are being stored).
I’ll still encourage self-reliance in my girls, because that’s a good thing anyway, but I‘ll make sure they’ll know, too, that no one is totally self-reliant and maybe our best odds of surviving and flourishing is by doing it together with circles of friends and communities to support each other.