Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s and the advent of VCRs and video rental stores and cable TV, and parents who, admittedly, probably weren’t strict enough with our viewing habits, I saw a lot of movies about disasters and apocalypses. The best and worst of science fiction films. But in real life I’d never encountered the idea of “preppers” until the late 1990s, as we approached the turn of the century, and the Y2K bug. That’s when a lot of people became aware of “prepping”, of getting off the grid, stocking up on supplies and guns, being prepared for the collapse of society, the end of the world.

Now, getting off the grid wasn’t new. There had always been communes where people would gather and grow their own food and live off the land.

Even as I worked in computers on Y2K issues, working to make sure “the end” didn’t happen, I still became fascinated by the lifestyle of those preppers. The idea of surviving the end and coming out on the other side of apocalypse. For many years it was an obsession, just the idea of prepping, but not actually prepping. Sometimes I would daydream about some underground bunker fortress cabin in the woods place I would ride out the zombie hordes or atomic wasteland times, but outside of those daydreams I had no desire to abandon the world and watch it die. I wanted people, even as I found it tiring to be around them for more than short period. I wanted… I needed society to be buzzing around me, even if I wasn’t engaged in it all the time.

This is where I think all the preppers and pessimists go wrong. I’m a bit of a pessimist myself. There isn’t a situation I can find myself in where I can’t think of a dozen dozen ways for it to fail. Ultimately, it’s why I’m a programmer and pretty good at it. I’m really good at looking at code, thinking of all the ways it can fail, and finding out why it is failing and fixing it. But personally, in all my pessimism, it’s always about being prepared for failure but then working toward success. Too many preppers get into preparing for failure and then just sit around waiting for the failure.

The preppers aren’t alone.

They have become afraid of things getting better, because if the system doesn’t fail, then all their preparations for failure will have been a waste.

What’s missing from a lot of these people is hope. That sounds hokey, but it is the simple truth. They don’t see how they can be part of the solution, and they don’t see their leaders solving problems, so they have no hope that the problems will be solved. In every case, however, these problems have solutions. Even more, we know what those solutions are, but we do not have the political will to do them. And we don’t have an electorate willing to put the people in office who would.

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