Can we help others without putting our own families at risk?greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread
The topic of sharing food with your neighbors during Y2K has been widely discussed on the Internet for a long time. Although there have been a variety of suggestions they all share one common flaw - they compromise the safety of your family. I only visit a few forums each week so a solution to the safety issue may have been posted and I missed it. If that is the case, then would someone please share that solution at the end of this post. I would be truly grateful.
Before I go any further, I should mention that I am religious but I am only an average person with a lot of flaws and shortcomings. I strongly believe in Christian charity and I have practiced it for over two decades. However, a once-in-a-lifetime event is about to happen and I really dont know what actions would be best for next year.
Please let me explain.
If the disruptions only last for a week or two and things are gradually brought back to normal, then Christian charity will probably continue as it has in the past. But if the disruptions last longer than two weeks, then people are going to be cold, hungry, thirsty, and desperate. Their survival instincts will take over and good people will do things to survive they would never do under normal circumstances.
If we knew for certain that things would return to normal in three weeks, or six weeks, or whenever, then we could plan for that period of time and share our food reserves with our neighbors knowing that we were doing the right thing. I suspect our government will be telling us not to worry, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and everything will be back to normal in just a few more days. When those days are up, the government will say just a few more days. And later, just a few days more. When the Y2K problems actually start nobody knows how long they will last. And I certainly wont believe the government spokesperson when they give me their official prediction. Do you know why? Because they have predicted a three day snow storm impact for over a year. What are they going to do when it goes past three days? Will you believe them then? Im sorry, but I wont. The problem is too complex for anyone, or any government, to be able to predict how long it will last. It will last until its over. (Until the fat lady sings?)
The Y2K problem will probably be compounded by terrorist activities. This may include the release of chemical or biological agents in our atmosphere or drinking water. If that happens, our government is going to have their hands full and they wont be able to direct their attention to solving the Y2K problems. If a foreign invasion were to occur, that would also complicate the problem. And if the electrical power is down, then communication will be difficult. And the government has a long history of only telling us what they think we simple folks should know (such as the John Wilkes Booth cover-up in the 1860s, or the JFK assassination in the 1960s, or the truth about the Gulf War Syndrome, or the WACO tragedy, or the Ruby Ridge tragedy, or the recent JFK, Jr. assassination).
In my opinion the government will change its prediction about the impact of Y2K sometime between now and the end of this year. As Ed Yourdon has pointed out, we are deep into the end game and anyone with an unbiased analytical mind knows what the outcome is going to be. The government isnt worried about this, however, because there arent very many of us. The reason they will change their prediction is so they can point back to that last press release and claim they tried to warn us as soon as they had all the facts available. Their objective will be to keep those who survive Y2K from demanding an accounting (jail?) of those who were in government office and had access to the facts for several years. I wont fall for it but I suspect most Americans will because they will be grateful they are still alive.
I got off track for a moment, and I do apologize. Let me get back on my original topic: helping your neighbors next year.
As I see it, the problem with sharing your food reserves is that once you start, you cant stop. Once you start sharing with anyone, you must share with everyone.
That is the problem in a nutshell. For example, I live in the country. If I should see a hungry seven year old child and I invite her inside for a bite to eat, what do you think she will tell her parents when she gets home? What do I say to her parents when they come to my door? Well, gosh, thats just three more mouths to feed, what the heck? But what if the parents have two other children? Thats five people. And suppose they also have aunts and uncles living with them next year because the city is unsafe? Maybe ten or fifteen people? Still not too bad. But what about my other close neighbors? They have children too. And when they hear I am feeding one family, whose door do you think they will be knocking on? What do I tell them? Sure, heres some food. How long can I feed 30 people? 50 people? 100 people? 200 people? The only thing certain in this situation is that the list will keep growing in numbers. In no time my family will join the ranks of the starving millions.
And I cant say no once I start giving away food (or selling food or trading food for services). My neighbors will just form a mob and take what I have over my dead body. One family can not defend itself from an entire neighborhood.
PREVIOUS FORUM RECOMMENDATIONS:
There have been several individuals on this and other forums who have mentioned that they intend to share their food with their close neighbors. May I ask a simple question? Where do you draw the line that includes your close neighbors? Is it everyone on your floor of an apartment building? The entire apartment building? A block of houses? A small subdivision? Regardless of where you personally draw the line there will be some neighbors who live inside your line at its boundary and therefore they will be living next to neighbors outside your line. What do these well fed boundary neighbors do when their starving neighbors just over the line ask them for help? How long before it becomes known that you excluded those neighbors using your imaginary line? What do you think will happen then?
There has also been a lot of talk about organizing your neighborhood and getting them ready for Y2K. However, in reading about the attempts made by many people on this and other forums I have discovered that most of these efforts have failed and only a few were marginally successful. The downside of this type of effort is that it highlights the individual who tried to get their neighbors to prepare as someone whos family is prepared for Y2K. This humanitarian effort to help their neighborhood survive will probably cost the original organizers everything they have next year when hunger pains becomes unbearable and the neighbors either individually or collectively overpower the homes of families known to have food reserves in order to take their food by force using either superior numbers or a surprise attack or both.
This is a very difficult problem and one I never thought I would face during my lifetime. There are scriptures that tell us to share and scriptures that tell us not to share (if a man does not work, neither should he eat). There is also the parable of the ten virgins at the beginning of Matthew chapter 25. Dont share your oil with those who didnt prepare.
I personally dont have the final answer to this question. I dont know what I will do when the time actually arrives. However, I have been very careful not to advertise that I have food stored. With the exception of my wife and son, nobody in this area knows about my plans for next year. My wife, my son, and I have discussed this issue many times and we all know better than to discuss this sensitive topic with anyone except among ourselves in private.
MY TENTATIVE PLAN:
At this time my tentative plan is to be selfish. I anticipate having between ten and twenty family members living here with me next year and I will be hard pressed to provide for all of them. I cant turn away close relatives. I consider close relatives to be my and my wifes parents, our children including our married children and their families, and our brothers and sisters and their families. Some of my relatives have made significant preparations for next year. Others have made no preparations or minimal preparations (two to four weeks). The ones who are poorly prepared that live close to me will be my responsibility next year and I will not turn my back on them.
This brings up another issue. Our married children will have to make an important decision they probably havent considered yet. If they wish to live with us then we will accept all of them, their spouses, and their children with open arms. However, we will not be able to accept in-laws (spouses parents, brothers, sisters, and their families) I dont have the space or resources to handle that many additional people. Our married children will have to make their own decision on whether to throw their lot in with us, or to seek assistance with one of the relatives on the spouses side of the family. I will not try to influence their decision one way or the other. Each small family unit will have to make that decision based on what is best for them. Sometime in the next week or two I will personally talk with each of my married children and explain the above to them, using a what-if scenario, so they dont show up on my doorstep next year with all their in-laws in tow. When I talk to my children I will not press them for an immediate decision but I will suggest they discuss it with their spouse and make the best decision for their family when and if that time ever comes.
I also wont be able to help first or second cousins or aunts or uncles.
Everyone reading this post has their own family tree. Some people may only have four or five close relatives and that includes aunts and uncles. If that were my situation, then they would all be welcome to live with me next year. My comments only apply to my situation and the carrying capacity of my resources. My home is 1800 square feet. If you are reading this post then sooner or later you will have to make your own decision as to who you consider to be family and how many people you can feed and shelter.
The above is my tentative plan. I will adjust it as events develop next year. For example, if it is May 1, 2000 and only 9 people are living in my house and an uncle shows up with his family of five, then they will be welcome to stay with me. Since I have a maximum carrying capacity of 20 people I could accept these new arrivals without straining my resources. But if I already had 18 people living in my house then I would have to say no to the uncle with his family of five. After a certain point in time I will be operating on the principle of first come first served.
The issue is not how many people can squeeze into a telephone booth. The issue is how many people can function in the telephone booth before they start to interfere with one another. After a certain number of people have entered the booth, everyone in the telephone booth is thinking of how crowded and unbearable it is inside the booth.
I cant help the neighbors. I dont plan on helping the neighbors except to give them non-hybrid vegetable seeds in the spring of the year 2000. Thats all I can do. If I feed one neighbor, I have to feed them all. (The only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.)
I have also bought lots of extra matches and lighters to give to my immediate neighbors if they ask me if I have any to spare. The ability to start a fire with minimum effort can make the difference between life and death in some situations (heat, cooking raw meat,and so on). I do not intend to walk around and offer these lighters to my neighbors because that would label me as being better prepared than they are.
If Y2K turns out to be as bad as I suspect, then there will be a lot of deaths next year. There is nothing I can do to prevent it. However, there will be two groups of survivors. Some will survive because they were prepared. Others will survive because they will find the ones who were prepared and kill them and take what they had. I hope my family is in the first group of survivors. I have already decided I will not be in the second group even if that means my own death. I dont really fear death like I did when I was a child because of my faith in Christ. However, if possible, I would like to avoid a lot of pain prior to death, if God is willing.
MORE DETAILS ON MY PLAN:
My overall plan is a simple one. I have paid my home mortgage several months in advance. I will continue to pay my mortgage every month so I am always paid ahead. Many people have recommended withdrawing cash from the bank and saving it (under the mattress?) for this purpose but it made more sense to me to pay my mortgage in advance and have the canceled checks as proof of my payment. How can you do this? Send in two payments each month about two weeks apart. Or send in three or four payments each month a week apart. (Stop the automatic bank draft and change to manual payment.) Where can you get this much money? I did something that has been advised against on this and other forums. When one of my credit cards sent me a notice that my limit had been raised by a certain amount, I withdrew that money in cash and used it to pay ahead on my mortgage. If Y2K turns out to be a bump in the road, then I will use my normal income next year to repay the credit card company because I wont need that money to pay my mortgage. But if Y2K is really bad, I would rather receive some nasty phone calls from my credit card company than see a sheriff at my door telling me to pack up and get out. I have always paid my debts and next year will not be an exception. I will make whatever sacrifices are necessary to eventually pay my debts.
I have guns and ammo and I will defend my family and our food reserves if I am forced to. However, I will make every effort not to become a target. I have no desire to hurt anyone. I have a very gentle spirit and when I injure someone (accidentally or intentionally) I have guilt problems for the rest of my life. Believe me, I dont want to live with the fact that I shot and killed someone. But I will if I am forced to in order to protect my family.
I intend to fill a lot of empty soft drink bottles with drinking water so I dont have to run my generator very often. The noise will attract attention and everyone will know I was prepared for this emergency.
I have a decent solar system but I wont install the solar panels on my roof until the summer of the year 2000 (or 2001). I will install the batteries, the controllers, and the inverter inside the house so I can capture the power from my generator and then use my batteries on an as needed basis so I dont have to start the generator very often. I plan to run the generator inside a small ventilated closet inside my house with a cheap lawn mower muffler attached and the exhaust going outside.
I did a trial hookup of my solar system and found what was missing in the way of connectors and mounts. I then purchased those items and did another trial hookup and the entire system works fine. I then put all the components back in their original cartons. I dont wish to do the final installation now because it would be obvious to anyone entering my house that I have a solar system.
I also have a small marine solar panel, a 12 volt three-hour marine battery, and a 500 Watt inverter which I can use to run a variety of appliances inside the house in an emergency. For a few dollars more I could have bought a 1000 Watt inverter and now I wish I had. To make the system work you attach the two wires from the solar panel to the battery. You then attach the two wires from the inverter to the battery. Then you plug any appliance you wish into the front of the inverter. A 10 watt marine solar panel costs about $150 (any marine supply store or off the the Internet), a deep cycle marine battery costs about $65 at Wal-Mart, and a 1000 watt inverter costs about $400 (occasionally at Sams Club or off the Internet). This is a cheap inverter and it produces dirty power. If you plug your TV and VCR directly into it then you will have thin wavy lines on your TV screen as the movie plays. To correct this problem, I bought a 25 foot medium duty extension cord and I plugged the TV/VCR into the cord and the cord into the inverter. Then I coiled the extension cord loosely on top of itself in a pile on the floor and the wavy lines disappeared from the TV screen. Based on the information I have read, a 10 watt solar panel is too small to overcharge a battery so I dont need any expensive controllers for this small setup.
I plan to cook with my 700 watt microwave using my primary inverter. Even though the microwave uses 700 watts it will only be on for one to five minutes so it will not be using very much power each day. I dont plan on letting a lot of fragrant, delicious, cooking smells go up my chimney and drift over to the neighbors homes.
I dont plan on running electric lights inside the house at night (too bright and easy to identify as an electric light from outside). However, I do plan to occasionally burn a little lamp oil in a few oil lamps at night (very dim and easy to identify as an oil lamp or candle from outside the house).
All my windows will have the shades (or blinds) closed and the curtains closed at night. I will have very thin shears on the windows during the day which will let in light but which will keep prying eyes from seeing inside. In the winter I may even hang blankets over the windows at night to help keep the heat inside the house.
I dont intend to go outside and socialize with the neighbors (unless a neighborhood meeting is called). A person who is not starving really stands out from people who are starving.
I dont plan on shaving and I intend to wear old, stained, raggedy, loose fitting clothes (clean and not smelly) during the day in the event a neighbor knocks on my door to ask me a question. I dont want to look like things are going too well for me.
When I answer the door, I will leave the chain lock attached. I will not permit any neighbors inside my house. My excuse will be that I already have one sick child (or wife) and I am afraid to let anyone in because they may be carrying germs of some kind and the rest of us may get sick. Plus I dont want to be responsible for spreading my childs (wifes) sickness to others. (Someone in my family always has an ailment of some type so this would not be a lie.) I intend to be very firm on this matter and I will not unlatch the chain for anyone for any reason.
Unless there is an epidemic in my immediate area, I will not put a Beware - Contagious Disease sign on my front door. I believe most people would see through that deception very easily and conclude that I have something valuable in the house I dont wish to share.
I will be wearing a loaded pistol all day, inside and outside the house. I will have loaded rifles ready (but out of sight) if we need them. I have six fire extinguishers (A,B,C type). I have battery operated smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors. (Carbon monoxide because I have a non-electric propane space heater and a propane stove.)
I have a 16 McCulloch Electric Chain Saw ($60 from K-Mart) for use in the early spring of the year 2001. I have enough firewood cut, split, and stacked (out of sight) to make it through two winters. I also have a gas chain saw but gas may be a precious commodity two years from now.
MY BACKUP PLAN:
If necessary, I am prepared to abandon my home and live in the woods. At the recommendation of many other people on this forum over the past year or so, I have bought backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, and camping supplies for everyone in my extended family. The national forest is my fall back position. I hope I dont have to use it, but I will if necessary. I have bicycles for us to get from here to the national forest if the cars cant make it. I will take as much food as we can carry with us. We will bury any extra food we might have in the woods about 1000 yards from our home before we abandon it. If possible, we will return periodically and retrieve that food. We cant disappear into the woods near our home because the woods only extend for a mile or two before they hit a paved road and more homes.
My wife wants me to bury some of our food now but I have been too busy. However, sometime in the next month or two I will bury some of our food near our home after dark. Without food, we are dead.
Those are my current plans even though they fall far short of my personal expectations for myself as a Christian. If Y2K turns out to be really bad, then I hope my plans will get my family through that difficult period. My family isnt special. We have no special skills. If we live or die, nobody would notice. But I truly love my family and I do not wish to sacrifice their lives in the name of goodwill to my fellow man. I have made many personal sacrifices in previous years to try to improve the lives of my fellow man but I am not willing to lay down the lives of my family in that cause.
The above are my tentative plans based on the information I now have available. If anyone reading this post has any suggestions that would be of use to me or anyone else, then please help us by sharing your thoughts below.
P&P (Prepared and Prudent)
-- P&P (P&P@In-The-Country.Now), September 14, 1999
You have hit on the subject that worries many of us to no end. I started reading your post, then skipped through. It sounds like you are trying to justify your actions for yourself. I understand. I have been talking to my immediate neighbors, encouraging them to prep - even giving some supplies to one with 2 kids to "get started" ( a one day supply). Luckily all immediate neighbors are prepping (though not to the same degree as we are :< ). I have pretty much settled on welcoming them into my house for a meal - maybe we will rotate between the 3 houses each night. I can't see my hubby and I plus my 3 year old being able to defend our house if things go bad. If we partner with neighbors that would put us at 12-20 pretty solid folks. Enough to have shifts stand watch, etc.
Where to draw the line? We will just have to wait and see - though thinking/planning ahead does have value. It is just impossible to anticipate all possibilities. I just keep buying "a few more" supplies, hoping that it will be "enough". Bye for now!
-- Kristi (email@example.com), September 14, 1999.
I think Kristi just about sums it up for us too. I believe our best chance is for several people (family first, neighbours second) to band together, guard the house etc.
We have enough water and food to feed about 25 people for six months. If it goes on longer than that I am resigned that we will not make it. We do the best we can, help as much as we can and leave the rest to God. You can't store enough food for forever. You have to have a homestead where you can go back to the land. Then you have to defend it against hordes of desperate people. I don't want to live in a world like that anyway. Some things are worse than death.
We all want to put our families first, but sometimes we must take a chance and help others. Many people during the second world war hid and aided jews and other victims at their and their family's peril. Sometimes there is a higher cause. If one believes in God then it is just a step from this world to the next.
Good luck - perhaps it won't be that bad.
-- citygirl (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 1999.
See my thread at Creating Neighborhood Foodbanks. It's gotten mixed reviews, mostly by people who think I'm aiming at inner city, while I'm really thinking more about suburbs and space.
There are two main points: To feed your neighbors you have to feel safe. If this approach doesn't feel safe to you, don't do it. That means you have to start with a core group that can protect the food assets and be stronger than the people you feed. If you can't do that, don't start. The second point is that this process needs to be somehow self-replicating, so that additional ad hoc foodbanks can grow up around yours. In other words, you can't feed the whole city, but you can model a way for neighborhoods to feed themselves. The problem (in most communities) will not be the lack of food, but the inability of stores to resupply themselves. Cooperative buying ventures, pickup trucks out to the farms, will be the answer for many. People don't need to be fed by you, they need to see how to cooperate.
This is not a solution that works everywhere. It should work best where you have a clear boundary - your core group consists of an entire apartment complex, for instance. Or you live in a group of houses that is clearly set off (by a stream, or distance, or some physical mark) from others. You need to see a "we/they" line, and your neighbors do, too, in order to create that "we are the core group" mentality.
Your question about "where do you stop" is exactly the problem. Our current society destroys small communities, which is why cities are lonely places. That's why the "feed nearest people best" rule might help. It gives a reason for people to form their own group, but doesn't drive anyone to the point of panic.
Make no mistake, this is a crude model that MIGHT help us navigate a VERY dangerous time.
Hope this helps.
-- bw (email@example.com), September 14, 1999.
Every serious preparer, particularly those with dependents, has had to think about this.
If you are preparing to take care of twenty people, it's not exactly like you are a selfish hoarder! If you can get anything extra, get the cheap survival basics, wheat, corn, oil, salt, honey, beans, rice etc. You could then conceivably help keep some close neigbors alive. I don't think they will exactly 'spread the word', because they would know it would compromise their source of sustaining life. I would not let them see your other foods though, e.g. comfort foods etc. You will have a tough time making it without help. You can pack your pistols, which is not a bad thing, but if you are taken by a violent or accidental death, who will take care of your family? If there is a small group working together, the odds increase favorably for more to survive.
You sound as though you as struggling with your conscience. It is not necessarily true that feeding one seven year old will bring the city to your door. You are playing mental games to harden your heart in advance. I understand the concept, but I believe that your choice does not necessarily have to be between one extreme or the other. I think you must be prepared to make decisions as the situation presents. Don't underestimate prayer when making these decisions. I do not view this present life as the end. I hope that the decisions I make are ones I can face my Creator with comfortably and not have to hang my head in shame. I would rather have less days on earth than eternal regrets.
-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), September 14, 1999.
I also only read part of your prep letter. I didn't want to hear every detail, sorry. I read enough to agree that your concern seems to be how to justify not helping people because you might endanger your family.
Everyone who posted here has raised valid points. I even agree totally with Mumsie (something that has never happened before on a subject more controversial than pulling quills out of a dog).
One thing that concerns me about your letter--you stated:
< If the disruptions only last for a week or two and things are gradually brought back to normal, then Christian charity will probably continue as it has in the past. But if the disruptions last longer than two weeks, then people are going to be cold, hungry, thirsty, and desperate. Their survival instincts will take over and good people will do things to survive they would never do under normal circumstances.
I have to disagree with you on this. Although I am not a Christian, I consider myself to be a "good" person. I believe strongly in the Golden Rule. I hope I never have to make the kind of decision you are suggesting here, but I certainly hope I would NEVER turn away someone who is "cold, hungry, thirsty and desperate". I believe a truly good person will behave the same way regardless of the circumstances.
Take heart; help everyone you can; ask, or require that they DO work. Let them split wood, dig a latrine, haul water, pull weeds, SOMETHING which will save you some of the things necessary to survive.
The only way we're going to survive if tshtf is by all pulling together. After all, we are social animals; we prosper by each doing what we do best, not by isolating ourselves during times of trouble and stress.
I especially agree with Mumsies statement that she'd "rather have less days on earth than eternal regrets."
I don't expect "eternal" regrets, but I have to live with myself for however long I have on this plane, and possibly on the next, if there is one.
One more point, PandP: do you really want to have to judge whom to let starve and whom to help? How do you make that decision? What makes you think that your sister in law, for instance, is more worthy of assistance than your good friend's elderly mother, or your neighbor's toddler?
I hope you never have to make these decisions; I hope none of us do. But I urge you to give this a lot of soul-searching thought before you start down this road.
-- Al K. Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 1999.
We have less than 10 neighbors (that is the number of people, not households) w/in 1 mile, none of them the type to come looking for charity. No town of 1000+ w/in 15 miles, and no city directly north of us. (If things get bad, expect southern migration.)
While I very much doubt things getting that bad, my plan includes having food for hand-outs. So far that includes 90 home-canned quarts I got at an auction sale for a couple of dollars. No idea if it is safe to eat so I'll give warning and let them decide. Also have about 500 cans of store-bought stuff which we'd rather not eat as long as we have our own canned food.
I'll feed any adult that asks politely - once. I'll never turn a hungry child away, and that's something I have to take into account now while preparing. Adults will be told to go elsewhere for their next meal.
There are going to be enough people, dogs, and guns here that I'm not worried about uninvited guests.
-- Gus (email@example.com), September 14, 1999.
It sounds to me as if P&P already IS prepared to provide for a lot of other people, which is quite unselfish. Anyone who can do that is very, very fortunate indeed! However, there are those of us out here who live from paycheck to paycheck, and who are trying our best to survive even minimally, depending upon what transpires at rollover and beyond. We cannot pay mortgages ahead, must make our purchases and lug them home and into apartments and cut coupons and watch the sales and spend hours and hours each week just shopping these. We haven't the luxury of solar anything, woodstoves, retreats, etc. Yet we live in neighborhoods where everyone we've tried to alert just scorns us, until we've gone quiet because we know that then they know where to freeload, when they could much more easily have prepared than we could. I, too, have spent my life doing Christian deeds of charity, both with lots of donated time and what little monetary means I could, but I am practical enough to realize that preparers cannot possibly save all the non-preparers out there without them all dying earlier than necessary due to having spread out the little food that had been gathered. While my neighbors are literally going on cruises, planting expensive new gardens, buying brand-new autos, going out to dinner regularly, etc., I am brown-bagging it, never go out to dinner, have an old car, haven't had a vacation in years and cannot even go to visit my elderly aunt in a nursing home out of state, or my two children and grandchildren in New England. So when TSHTF, am I supposed then to say, "Oh, you poor dears! You spent all of your time and money enjoying yourselves and doing exactly what you pleased in 1999, and even ridiculed me, but now I am going to feed you all so that we all die together sooner than I would have?" I don't think so! The wise and foolish virgins are one parable. The Little Red Hen is a childhood fable that makes the point nicely too. Remember it in grade school? She asked all the other animals who would help her to plant the seed...each replied, "Not I!" She repeated this with the watering, the harvesting, and the making of the bread, with the same results. BUT...when the bread was baked and she asked who would help her to eat it...each replied, "I will!" I don't need to tell you her answer, do I? But I will. She told them that she had asked their help at each stage and they had all refused, so now she would eat the bread herself.
-- Elaine Seavey (Gods1sheep@aol.com), September 14, 1999.
I decided to read the rest of your post, for some reason. I think you are either:
1) Gary North 2) A troll or 3)One sick puppy.
Sorry if you're only helplessly paranoid, selfish, and strange.
-- Al K. Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 1999.
Contrary to what Lloyd says above, I don't think you're paranoid, selfish, strange, Gary North, a troll, etc. etc. Your post strikes me as a sincere theoretical effort to see ahead and work out what may happen in a worst case scenario. There is nothing wrong with that; I have done it many times myself. Any serious GI has.
It is not pretty or pleasant to think about turning away hungry people from your door when you know that you have the means to provide them with a meal. It is possible that you could decide to provide them with one meal, and then send them on their way. However, as you said in your example of the 7-year old child, if they spread the word that you have food, you may find more and more people knocking on your door for handouts. Sooner or later you will have to draw the line, or risk having your food supply prematurely depleted.
People who think you are "selfish" to not hand out food to everybody and anybody who is young/hungry/desperate/cold are unrealistic idealists. It is so easy to be generous with other people's supplies! But every mouthful you give to a stranger is one less mouthful for your beloved family, who should rightly be first in your heart.
What the idealists don't seem to understand when discussing these theoretical worst-case scenarios is that such a world will bear virtually no resemblance to the one we live in now. Such a world will be a dog-eat-dog (literally!), with little groups of family and friends cloistering themselves off in order to survive. The thought of turning hungry strangers from the door makes us uncomfortable only because we have never lived in such a world. Our world today is a fat, happy one, with plenty of food, clothing, and warm places to sleep. Charity is EASY to do in today's world; our tax structure even encourages charitable donations. Its easy to share with less fortunate folks because the few dollars you give to your church, or to United Way, or to the bum on the street corner, doesn't take food off your table. You probably don't even miss those few dollars at all. Besides, you get another paycheck in 2 weeks, so there's plenty more where that came from.
In a worst-case scenario, suddenly there is no surplus of ANYTHING valuable and consumable, such as food and clean water. Once these items have been consumed, they cannot be easily or quickly replaced.
If TSHTF in a bad way, we who have prepared will have to harden our hearts to some degree, or risk being overrun by hungry beggars. You can't save the world. You may not even be able to save yourself or your family. But being the local food bank for everybody who shows up with a hard luck story is insane. It would be stupid to have saved up food and supplies for months, only to just hand it all out in the first few weeks of the crisis, because you feel sorry for everybody, and then end up dead yourself.
-- waiting (email@example.com), September 14, 1999.
If TEITRAH, we will need more than immediate family for support/mutual protection. Therefore, I will share with my closest 3 neighbors. (overlapping fields of fire, etc. + no other neighbors are that close). Everyone can be useful for gathering wild fruit (coconuts for chicken feed, mangos, guavas, etc.), mushrooms, and similar items. The men can go fishing/hunting together. They probably have some skill that I don't...
Therefore, I prepare slightly more than I would otherwise prepare...
-- Mad Monk (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 1999.
Al, ONE cold hungry etc person is very different froma family of 5, or a group of 10, or clearly a gang of 20. Or a dozen "Effing kicked effing out of my effing own effing house G D M F " teenagers. WHich is where I live......
-- Chuck, a night driver (email@example.com), September 15, 1999.
"Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.....Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." ~ Jesus ~ Luke 6:30 - 38 "And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea." Mark 9:42
I am not saying we should not use wisdom and discretion. I am not saying we should broadcast our preparations. I am not saying we should all go out into the streets and look for hungry people. Let's go back to the example of a seven year old child. I don't let my seven year old wander the streets, so I would assume that the hungry child who shows up needs more than a meal, that it also needs an adult to care for and look out for it. What if something happened to you? What if while you were on one of your forays for supplies, you were killed? What if for whatever reason, it was now your seven year old child looking for help? Also notice that I was describing sharing beans and rice. It could mean the difference between life and death for some. I understand that some may not be able to spend an extra one or two hundred on cheap bulk food, but most of us could. We are not buying much freeze dried or dehydrated type foods, simply because if we buy more plain bulk we are in a better position to help others. I know that it is difficult to sacrifice now and watch others obliviously spend and live however they please, knowing they may land on our doorstep later. I remind myself that life is not fair. God has awakened my heart to the potential dangers of Y2K and other potential problems. I'm thankful for that. He created me to be who I am, and I would rather be that someone who faces Truth than someone who lives in denial. Part of the package of that is that I have more accountability now. To whom much is given, much is expected. The story of Joseph should be our example. That man was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, spent years in prison, ended up running Egypt for the Pharaoh because he interpreted his dream, prepared for seven years (!) for the coming famine, and then who shows up hungry on his doorstep? The same brothers who tried to destroy him. Joseph could have had them all killed. He chose mercy, which is the way of our Father.
I do not have most of the preparations done that I would like to. I always hesitate to discuss specifically on a public forum the details of this. We do not have our buckets and bulk grains purchased yet (waiting for funds), we do not have solar panels, we do not have a ham radio, no galvanized tubs, no solar battery charger, etc. etc......we do not have a mortgage paid ahead, because we are looking for another place to live as I write this. (It doesn't help when people write, forget moving, it's too late! We HAVE to move, and I am an optimistic realist. I believe that if I reach out to my new neighbors, that at least some of them will reciprocate. It is not just living years in a neighborhood that makes a good neighbor.) We are driving a VERY old car, so much so that it is embarassing. We call it the Green Hornet. My daughter quit college to work and save money in case the family needs it if things get very bad. In order to relocate, I had to endure being alone and semi-stranded in a new state while my husband would commute to southern CA for three to five weeks at a shot for many months. (With seven kids, one a new baby to boot) I was alone when the pipes froze, the sewage backed up in the tub, the power went out, the car died, and the kids were sick. We bought our last few birthday gifts for kids at Goodwill and the dollar store. I started cutting my own hair (already cut hair for everyone else in my family). I am now having to delay visiting my parents in another state, even though they are in critically failing health. I feel I must spend the money on finishing basic food preps first, before making that trip. My brother, who is a sneerful DGI, just took a big long vacation across the country, part of which was to visit our parents. Does this bother me? Of course. Should my human emotions determine my choices? Should I jump out and attack the next rude driver that cuts me off? Our ability to make choices based upon what is right or wrong despite what our natural feelings tell us is one characteristic that distinguishes us from other animals. Should I help my brother or my neighbor? I know what it feels like to be scraping out whatever extra you can from your budget to get more preps done, meanwhile watching people who have more funds at their disposal just fritter away their time and money. It has galled me to think that they could end up here, but I accept struggling with those emotions, because I am, after all, human (just as it sickens me to think of all that could be accomplished if more people would work together while they still have time and opportunities). On the other hand, I also think that the people who may come to us for help would be, de facto, clearly under our authority, and will therefore be expected to contribute and help in whatever ways we ask them to (if they want to stay in our home and eat at our table). Don't forget, that a fire, a flood, a fluke etc. could wipe out your carefully made preparations and plans. Don't forget that the hungry person looking for help could be you or someone you love.
I also advised to not keep all your supplies visible and in one place. People do not have to know the true extent of your preparations. Same wisdom as not leaving your keys in an unlocked car.
When referring to responding to someone who asks for help, Notice I am NoT referring to looters (or anyone who as the 'effing attitude' that they should just 'have' whatever they want) who have criminal intent. (When faced with these people, I would certainly like to have a few neighbors on my side.) I will have no compunction to apply WHATEVER force necessary to stop them. I will protect my children. I am, after all, a mumsie.
-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), September 15, 1999.
From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr near Monterey, California
This forum exists in an international mindspace. Christrians do not have a corner on compassion.
-- Dancr (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 15, 1999.
Al P&P is no troll, just a concerned individual that is willing to share his thoughts and preparations. I always learn from a thread like this.
P&P Thank you for a look at what you are thinking and doing. In many ways my thinking and doing are similar.
I am prepared for 6 months for immediate family (12). I will have "Good Samaritan" bags which I would give out as long as they last. I would then protect my supplies until we evactuate to my property outside of the city.
I will have BOB "bug out bags" ready to go. They will contain the following: Radios (Solar-Crank-flashlight), flashlights & batteries, first aid kits and manuals, Meds, cash/coins, ID, keys, matches & lighters, sterno, signal flare, maps, phone numbers, special care items, non-perishable foods, water, cups-plates-cutlery (plastic), can opener, utility knives.....also sleeping bags, extra blankets and adequate protection.
By arming ourselves with all the information possible and trying to think through all of the possibilities then we should be able to make the right decisions, quickly, as necessary.
I have tried to get prepared and I will never again be unprepared.
-- rb (email@example.com), September 15, 1999.
Good thread....depressing as hell...but good thread. I too have worried in the dark of night about this, especially the children. I don't know the answer. The answer is in each heart, each neighborhood. But for practical purposes I offer these suggestions of WHAT to give them. Beans are not good unless you have a pot already cooked, same with rice and corn meal. We can offer anyone water as we are having a pitcher pump put in the back yard. I have 200 lbs of old fashioned oat meal. But I am thinking about buying some of the instant small packaged oatmeal to give out. They can eat that with a little water or not even any water. Sam's had big boxes of mixed flavors last trip there. NO ONE GETS IN THE HOUSE.!! We have a large porch and they can sit out there and eat. If it turns out they are camped in the woods near by and have fire, then I will give beans and rice and perhaps corn meal. I am saving all of my coffee cans so that campers would be able to cook in them, bail water, etc. I will probably be interested in letting a couple park an RV on our place as we have two hook ups. One at the back of the property and be nice to have eyes on guard back there. But will be fussy about who we let in re trustworthiness. We have Alaskan friends who live in an RV and we are hoping they will come here for Y2k. She spent last winter with us and did so much of the canning, baking jar cakes, etc that I have bought for them too. She is one of these people (raised on a Montana cattle ranch) that can kill and skin our a caribou with one hand and do needle point with the other. Hubby is equally skilled as is my hubby. I am rambling. But my bottom line is that you need to assess the needs of people before giving food. If they are in a stable area, be it home or camped under the trees, they can prepare foods that a family "on the road afoot" cannot. Good Post... but Damn..!! I hate having to think of this situation. One reason I wish we were in a place where even the Fuller brush man couldn't find us. To not even be confronted with it would be utopia. Out of sight out of mind. Like looking at Rawanda refugees on TV while you are eating a steak!
Taz...who may have to consider going back on Prozac.
-- Taz (Tassie@aol.com), September 15, 1999.
Dancr, I certainly did not mean to imply that Christians have the corner on compassion. Al does not profess to be a Christian, but he certainly sounds as though his mind/heart is set to help and share. I was merely quoting famous words of compassion and love. It's true that to me, the words are also divine, but nonetheless they are provocative and challenging to all. I know many stingy and self- serving people who profess to be Christians, and many people who are not Christians that have warm and giving hearts. Just because I believe in Jesus, doesn't mean I haven't developed a healthy dose of skeptical caution regarding people in general.
I like the idea of preparing bags ahead of time, but agree with Taz when she said that we must make individual assessments of situations.
As I said before, what if it was you knocking on a door looking for help? What if it was your loved one?
-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), September 15, 1999.
PandP, if you are for real, I apologize. It's just that your letter sounds so Rambo-like that it feels like a set up.
Mumsie, I wholeheartedly agree with your following statement:
< When referring to responding to someone who asks for help, Notice I am NoT referring to looters (or anyone who as the 'effing attitude' that they should just 'have' whatever they want) who have criminal intent. (When faced with these people, I would certainly like to have a few neighbors on my side.) I will have no compunction to apply WHATEVER force necessary to stop them. I will protect my children. I am, after all, a mumsie.
I am, after all, a father, a husband, a brother, a son, a grandfather, and a neighbor. I did NOT mean to imply that I would give away ANYTHING to a bunch of THUGS, or anyone else, who comes to my door DEMANDING help.
As I said earlier, though, I plan to help anyone who comes for help who is willing to return the favor, if he is able.
A very good thread, and yes, a depressing one. Let's hope we never have to find out what fabric we are made of.
-- Al K. Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 15, 1999.
Your post makes me so very sad!( Ihaven't yet read the other responses.) I've never read anything like it. I believe in prudent preparation, but precisely because we don't know what is ahead,we must also treasure every day of this present year. You are obviously a man of means, and gifted with intelligence and reason, but it seems your burdens still seem even greater than your resources, I fear. I am glad to hear that you "believe in" Christian charity, (and I appreciate your honest confession of ordinariness, or lack of special virtues. In that regard I am like you. But I do believe there are two resources you might want to acquire as quickly as possible; they are faith and hope. Since you imply that you are a Christian I am suggesting that, since you probably have done more thorough- and more complex- preparations than anybody I've heard of, that you could decide to allow Jesus to solve at least some of your problems, meet some of your needs, think thru some of the answers. Accept that even though you are a very powerful and accomplished man, you probably needed some help along the way, and that now, with this y2k thing you, along with everyone else, is going to need some help to get through it. And also, that in the long run, the day of your death or even the quantity of suffering before death isn't really, in the end, in your hands, but is in God's domain. That's part of His job description, not yours!
-- Adrienne Gomez (email@example.com), September 17, 1999.
Your post makes me so very sad!( Ihaven't yet read the other responses.) I've never read anything like it. I believe in prudent preparation, but precisely because we don't know what is ahead,we must also treasure every day of this present year. You are obviously a man of means, and gifted with intelligence and reason, but it seems your burdens still seem even greater than your resources, I fear. I am glad to hear that you "believe in" Christian charity, (and I appreciate your honest confession of ordinariness, or lack of special virtues. In that regard I am like you. But I do believe there are two resources you might want to acquire as quickly as possible; they are faith and hope. Since you imply that you are a Christian I am suggesting that, since you probably have done more thorough- and more complex- preparations than anybody I've heard of, that you could decide to allow Jesus to solve at least some of your problems, meet some of your needs, think thru some of the answers. Accept that even though you are a very powerful and accomplished man, you probably needed some help along the way, and that now, with this y2k thing you, along with everyone else, is going to need some help to get through it. And also, that in the long run, the day of your death or even the quantity of suffering before death isn't really, in the end, in your hands, but is in God's domain. That's part of His job description, not yours! So then what,despair? No. The rest of the equation is HOPE. Remember, that's how we all started out;"Hope for the best, prepare for the worst." If you don't have much hope pray for it. It's a gift that is very easy to obtain from God. So the answer to you problem(s) is do all you can, but recognise who's really in charge, and let Him do His part, and be at peace. Just so you know; Iam a chronically ill, childless widow, withno relatives to help me with my needs at all. I live in government(WARE) housing. Ican't say that I have everything I think it would be helpful to have, not in my daily life, and not for y2k, but God has helped me survive truly horrible things, so I have every hope that if he needs me around here, I'll be here, no matter what. He can save one of His, even when a thousand fall on every side! Not that I don't fall prey most every day to some anxiety about the future, but He helps me with that, too. Please know that there is a force in this world worth trusting;you don't have to go it alone. The responsibility is not solely yours. God bless you!
-- Adrienne Gomez (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 17, 1999.
Folks I know some of you are scared me I take what lve god throws me and go on. What I want you to think about are food that go along way that feed the most people for the least price. Food like soup, you can use almost anything in soup, even wild roots from sunflowers, there aren't any poison sunflowers and the roots are good. Things that you think of as weeds can be some of the most nurtriuous food lot of vitinmans. Don't loss heart, read study wild plants. you will be able to help other people, if you learn these things. By the way I have eaten wild plants all my life and they are good.
-- ET (email@example.com), September 18, 1999.
Adrienne & Al: I wished the world was a place as you believe. I sincerely hope you are right. Heck, I hope in March we'll be able look at one another and Thank God for not letting it happen. However, my 60 plus years, most in the military, tells me things, IF they go bad, will not be like anything you have ever seen. I have three children and five grandchildren( plus my wife and her parents,80 plus). I made God a promise in my marriage vows that I would protect this woman and thereby the rest mentioned to the exclusion of all others. Will I have the ability to share what I have if a needy person comes to my front door? Better to ask-will I be able to tell if he or she has prepared and has had a little bad luck. Momsie, you postulate about the child at the door. If the child is an orphan and has no one else then yes I would take him or her in. However, if the child was being used by a conniving parent to gain entrance etc, then no. You see, the faces of my wife, my children and my grandchildren will also be in front of me. Their survival will depend on my judgement being sound. If looking after my family means to you that I transgress God's law, then our difference of opinion is one of doctrine. This is the wrong place to discuss it. I agree with P&P.
-- Neil G.Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 18, 1999.