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Keep Your Pants On

February 10, 2014

With mayhem lurking everywhere, you can’t be too prepared.

Recurring natural disasters have sparked a debate among the intelligentsia: has humanity caused a planetary imbalance or is this an ordinary part of the earth’s cycle? The debate may be irreconcilable, but the effects are the same: tomorrow’s weather may be very different from today’s.

Mayhem comes in all sizes. When, several months ago, I found myself hunting a raccoon with a bow and arrow in the backyard at 2:30 in the morning wearing nothing but a cotton undershirt, I realized I was ill-equipped for the apocalypse.

After a recent catastrophe– there’s been so many I don’t remember which – a reporter claimed he would be 70 percent more likely to survive the next disaster if he was carrying a bottle of water when it happened. And while this was undoubtedly among the 70 percent of statistics that are made up on the spot, his point was valid. Keep your house stocked and make sure it’s accessible. Know where a flashlight is. Follow the weather.

I followed my own advice and was well prepared for the snowstorm that hit Portland last Thursday. The house was stocked with groceries, water, candles, and firewood. I bought an emergency radio and cell phone charger. The little one found her mittens, and we hunkered down to while away the hours with a Lego project and some outdated video games.

On the second day of the storm – just before freezing rain coated the snowpack with half an inch of ice – my black cat crawled into the Lego bin and relieved himself.

So much for preparation.

We have traveled down the industrial road and built a pyramid of dependency. Billions of lives rely on its smooth functionality; it may be en vogue to challenge the system and jam its culture, but for all its iniquity that system and that culture represent humanity’s best efforts to date. Tearing them down could plummet our population into medieval times.

There are those who believe this would be a good thing. From 9/11 conspiracy theorists to television dramas ( Heroes, Revolution, Arrow, etc), the concept of unity through sacrifice has become a popular meme. It feels like we all know at some level we’re living out of phase with reality. The apocalypse has become a planet-wide RESET button and some of us are rushing towards it with our middle fingers extended.

What would you do if the planet hiccupped and laid waste to our great civilization? Would you want to survive? Could you put the past in its place and build a better world?

This is a thought experiment, nothing more. But mental preparation is as important as physical. If you know what to do in an emergency you’re more likely to avoid it. And if you can recognize a disaster in its infancy, you’re more likely to survive it.

Wear clean draws, the song says, everyday.

You may want to keep them on at night, too.


From → Rants

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