What to do about convincing loved ones to at least prepare?

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Here are some excerpts from e-mails sent by my parents during the past week. Their unwillingness to even make basic preparations is very upsetting. They are very wealthy and live in Maine...

"I also think that of the billions of lines of cobol etc. you talk about, probably 95% are in trivial applications..."

"...and I have a reasonable faith in the combined organizational capabilities and business survival instincts of people working on the subject to make sure that the catastrophic failures will largely be avoided."

"So what if the bank loses your accounts, if you have copies? So what, if Visa sends you a bill for $45 million - you dont pay. So what, if power fails for an hour in one or another plant, or even twelve."

"I am convinced that the nuclear reactor issue is not being treated as one of x-billion lines, but as one of a few hundred thousand that have to work. And if all were to fail (which I absolutely refuse to believe) Id rather be shot by a marauder than face hordes of starving people on my doorstep."

"But, yes, I expect a fairly lengthy recession because of what happens in less-developed countries. After the last war, our family survived reasonably well because my father worked in the food industry and got paid in product: we traded cooking fat for everything else we needed. Gold was not in demand then: you cant eat it."

"...It is also a fact that for a person with faith the subject looks different than for one without."

"...However, we are convinced that life will go on after 1/1/00, and not significantly differently from today."

"We'll store some food and fuel, but a large amount of provisions would probably be given away in any case. Could you sit around and watch neighbors and friends starve - especially if they had small children?"

So, what do you say to people like that? I'm sure this must be a common phenomenon amongst people in this group. Ideas welcome, but I doubt that anything will work!

-- Y2KGardener (gardens@bigisland.net), August 16, 1999


I think you have to start with "Trivial applications" first. There is NOTHING trivial about a mainframe. They are the work horse that holds civilization together. Then you may want to ask them, how they are going to burn their fuel without power. After that, ask them how they are going to store enough fuel for 3-4 weeks so they don't freeze into peoplecicles!!!!!!!

-- FLAME AWAY (BLehman202@aol.com), August 16, 1999.

Unfortunatly, It's like the Kenny Rodgers song says(no I'm not a fan!), "You gotta know when ta hold em, know when ta fold em'".

Don't waste too much of your time. With a subject such as this. People are either going to warm up and WANT to hear any available info/opinion, or write you off as stoopid.

Y2k is like religion. Since there is no real proof(on a HUGE scale) of anything happening BEYOND the BITR scenario(conjecture and theory's don't apply), someone has to take it on faith/belief that it is either more serious or less serious. Just like in Religion, trying to "convert" those who don't "have an ear to hear" is nothing short of a wast of time...tic..tock..

SO....Just bring it up, and if you get a spark of interest, proceed. Otherwise, move on. Harsh, I know, but ultimately true.

-- CygnusXI (noburnt@toast.net), August 16, 1999.

Your chances of changing their mind are very slim, but I understand the feeling that you have to keep trying. Ask them, "What if you are wrong?" That's the crux of preparation. If someone who prepares for hard times is wrong, he eats his stored food. If someone who does not prepare for hard times is wrong.... People have told me (We've all heard this) 'I'll just come to your place.' I tell them "I might not have stored enough food for everyone that will come here. There might not be any left for you." That usually gets through, not that everyone who hears that starts preparing.

If they're willing to even listen any more, statistics can be very convincing. If they're convinced that other countries will have more severe problems, tell them that 50% of the food consumed in this country comes from outside this country. This is a statistic I heard not in connection with any Y2K discussion, but think about it. Given even relatively minor problems with shipping and transportation, even minor delays in delivering product may mean little or no fresh produce in Maine in January, since it has to travel so far across country, it will likely go bad before it gets to market. Understanding JIT (just in time) manufacturing and delivery systems is a compelling argument for preparing.

It's a hard row to hoe. Good luck.

-- Bingo (ecsloma@spectra.net), August 16, 1999.

Every two weeks or so I listen to that old song "Silence is Golden ... but my eyes still see....

I say almost nothing about Y2K to anyone, people just don't/WON'T hear.

Theres a point where your talking, no matter how well intentioned, only antagonizes people.

Its not about "Allright, they'll get theirs", its about discretion and understanding human nature.

-- Jon Johnson (narnia4@usa.net), August 16, 1999.

Refer them to this link:



IMHO, it's one of the single most important essays ever written on Y2K preparedness.

-- Dennis (djolson@pressenter.com), August 16, 1999.

The "very wealthy" always survive. The information you have given them will sink in eventually. Don't try and force them to prepare, just tell them what you are doing to prepare. If they respect you, they will see what you are doing and may follow suit.

If not, start asking them if their estate is in order, where their will is located, asset distribution if they were to die, etc.... The questions may piss them off, but they will see how serious you take the issue.

-- Bill (y2khippo@yahoo.com), August 16, 1999.

I don't see how the "very wealthy" will automatically survive this. Money doesn't do much good when there's no food to buy.

I'm with the rest who say that it's too late to convince them. The best you can do is continue preparing so that you'll have the best chance of staying alive to honor their memories after they're dead.

-- (its@coming.soon), August 16, 1999.

This is the toughest of all issues, convincing loved that don't want to hear. My parents (4 hours away from me) are in a similar situation. I told them that I want them to come here for the holidays and that if things get bad, to plan to ride it out with me. They said they would, but I get the feeling they don't really mean it.

I also gave up trying to convince others, they don't want to hear it. Denial is strong, and as well all know, it is very scary to think about having to become self reliant in this day and age. I wish I had a 5 gallon bucket of wheat for everytime I heard "I'll just come to your place."

Pray for them and hope that they have a neighbor that will look after them who is a GI. Maybe things will unfold slowly enough for them to see the light and make some preps before the supply lines run dry. It's hard, but remember that everything happens for a reason, even Y2K. Sometimes God gets fed up and flushes the toilet, but He knows what He is doing. God bless you and your family.

-- bill (tinfoil@sombrero.com), August 16, 1999.

My Dad lives in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex. He's 82 & still works 6 days a week. His mind is extremely sharp. He's made it this far in this great shape because he's extremely optimistic by nature. When I try to get him to prepare for y2k, he just stops listening. A few months ago after an especially poignant plea from me to prepare, he asked me "what would you have me do?" I responded, "at least store a few canned goods & some water, Daddy." He said "I'd rather not." The message obviously was "I'd rather die." He then went into a tale of how optimistic he is & how he is planning to expand his business.

I realize now intellectually (at least) that if he were to get it, he would probably die very quickly along with his optimism. I don't mention y2k anymore. He's 82 with all his faculties; I must honor his decision on how he wants to go out. This is really hard to do. If he was a little senile, I'd just scoop him up & bring him here to live, but he's not.

-- mostly lurking (mostly lurking@podunk.texas), August 16, 1999.

You can't force people in the Ark. Those that laughed in Noah's day died. That's the way this might work. I hope it won't be bad, but I see no evidence that things are in order, so I'll assume it can indeed get bad.

The scoffers may have a price to pay for their foolishness. We'll know for sure shortly.

-- Larry (cobol.programmer@usa.net), August 16, 1999.

Y2K Gardener,

I like your parents from what you quote, although I don't agree with them. They sound like good people. Just keep trying and when the masses start to panic, maybe they'll wake up. Since they have money, they could find a way to buy supplies that a person with lesser means might not. God bless. And to the others of you with parents who won't listen.

-- Mara Wayne (MaraWayne@aol.com), August 16, 1999.

Communication works both ways. Maybe you ought to think seriously about what other people are saying, instead of coming across as an all-knowing, preaching zealot.

-- cd (artful@dodger.com), August 16, 1999.

Quote from Dad: "Hey son, we did just fine before computers"!!

-- David Butts (dciinc@aol.com), August 16, 1999.

Y2KGardener, I know just how you feel. I have given up now on my family as they have laughed me out of the house and we have even gotton into some heated arguments about it. When I was trying to convince my mother-in-law about it (she is 67 and I thought she would be easy to convince since she says if it wasn't for the wild animals they would have starved to death)she simply refused to listen. I gave her a copy of the essay "Are you prepared to be wrong" which was no help. Well, anyway she ended up leaving in tears. I don't know why though. I wasn't preaching to her or craming too much information at her or anything like that. Anyway, I received an email from her today and have decided to let her be on her decision...here is what she had to say....

I don't think you and Loron are wacko's , you just don't trust God to take care of you and the whole world. While I'm not overlly religious, I know that I'm going to be taken care of. You've got to have faith. It has carried me through all of these years and I don't believe it will desert me now, that is why I'm not worried about any future events, because fear is just a lack of faith and what you fear can happen if you dwell on it. It is just as if you attrack disaster when you think about it. I'm ready for anything that will happen.

It makes me very sad. She won't even stock up 3 days worth of food. Doesn't even keep that much in her house at any given time...very sad but can't even convince her to come here for the holidays....

-- shellie (shellie01@hotmail.com), August 16, 1999.

Two things your parents said jumped out at me:

"But, yes, I expect a fairly lengthy recession because of what happens in less-developed countries. After the last war, our family survived reasonably well..."

"We'll store some food and fuel, but a large amount of provisions would probably be given away in any case."

It sounds to me as if your parents are reasonably prudent and have survived some tough times, even if they don't have a deep grasp of the technical aspect of Y2K. They are better prepared than you think.

You might want to make a plug for them to ask their doctor for several months worth of any needed prescriptions. They might accept that idea. Medicine is an obvious vulnerability for most old folks and an extended supply would probably strike them as prudent rather than extreme. Beyond that, I would back off and respect their ability to think this through on their own terms. They sound like they can weather anything short of catastrophic breakdown. Don't underestimate their experience or wisdom. They are old enough to make up their own minds and bear the results of their decisions. They started doing that before you were born.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), August 16, 1999.

On the other hand, shellie's mother-in-law and her approach that ...what you fear can happen if you dwell on it. It is just as if you attrack disaster when you think about it... is an good example of the "voodoo thinking" that exists nowadays. Can't think no negative thoughts, bring very bad gris-gris. Yessir, if I just stay upbeat, that truck bearing down on me won't do me no harm at all. Those folks in the path of Hurricane Mitch just had too much stinkin' thinkin', that's all. Just think happy thoughts and all will be well.


-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), August 16, 1999.

"Could you sit around and watch neighbors and friends starve - especially if they had small children?"

If the choice is between watching nonfamily neighbors starving in January, and my (Y2K-prepared) household making it thru this, or these nonfamily people AND my family starving in March, well, I'll pick door #1. Need is not a claim. Store food in 1999, or expect to do without it in 2000.

(For all the middle- and upper-class people who whine that there is NO WAY they can afford to prepare, read and apply the article on my website entitled "Finding Y2K Prep Time and $$". Problem solved.)


-- MinnesotaSmith (y2ksafeminnesota@hotmail.com), August 16, 1999.

My mother (the sole-surviving parent, between my wife and I) has already been informed that she's being kidnapped on New Year's Eve. She thinks we're just crazy enough to do it, so she agreed to come voluntarily.

Siblings, are another matter. They have families of their own, so we can't take on the burden. One of the reason's I haunt this board is to find different ways to approach the problem, some turn of a phrase that makes it more clear.

At some point, you just have to pray the Pollies are right, and let it go. For me, that point won't come until there's just too many reported shortages, for there to be any chance of getting preped, but everybody has to decide for themselves, when they've done all they can do.

-- Bokonon (bok0non@my-Deja.com), August 17, 1999.

Y2K Gardener:

I think that most very wealthy people will survive. Even if they lose vast sums of stocks and monies, they will still have STUFF --oodles and oodles of material goods which can be bartered or sold to get whatever they need.

I remember reading about a boy whose wealthy family went through the Depression. He never went hungry and wondered why others thought times were hard.

He was buffered.

Buffet will be buffered.

That reminds me... stock up on Bufferin if you see the need.

-- Randolph (dinosaur@williams-net.com), August 17, 1999.

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