Freehold Friday: What’s behind the label?

Howdy muchachos!

Before I jump right in to this week’s ramblings I wanted to share with you some writing related updates! I’m happy to announce that James Romick, the awesome narrator that read Apache Dawn for the audiobook format, has agreed (just this week!) to voice The Shift! For those of you who haven’t checked out the audio version of Apache Dawn, I highly recommend it—James’ talent is clear and he really brings the book to life!

Secondly, I wanted to bring you up to speed on the third book in the Wildfire Series. I finished the first draft last Friday (while watching the coverage of Snowmageddon ’16) and I’m already 10 chapters into the first round of editing. For reference, the way I’m going about the editing of this book is a little different than the last few (hopefully it will speed things up).

I subscribed to an online editing service that thus far is really helping me shape the writing into a more readable, grammatically correct version. Even better it’s doing so at a pace that I couldn’t hope to match by using my eyes alone. So, after I’ve run the entire book through the editor, I’ll print it out, read through it and make any last corrections, then send it to my beta readers. I’m hoping this process will only take till the end of next month (which will be way faster than the 2–3 months the process has taken me for book length works in the past!). Fingers crossed!

Okay, now that shopkeeping is out of the way, on with the post…

Behind the Label

So we’ve talked about my sliding scale of Preparedness, we’ve talked about the labels people apply to those who prepare (survivalist, prepper, unprepared/sheeple). But why do we have labels in the first place? My contention is that those who are unprepared and want us to remain so (think the Hollywood glitterati intelligentsia crowd—they not only have more money than we’ll ever see, they’re smarter than us too). Secretly though, they fear us and envy us.

Why? They have most of the money and power (paid-for politicians) and influence (celebrities and the mainstream media)…what could they fear from us?

Well, for starters, if you’re prepared for the unexpected, you’re much less dependent on someone else (i.e. the government—those people that know more than you about…everything). If you’re less dependent on the powers that be, they become less relevant. And to the people we’re talking about (not your average unprepared citizen, mind you, I’m still talking about the elites from “their side”) relevance is everything.

Case in point, if a movie star (or a musician for that matter) doesn’t have a continuous string of popular hits, they quickly fade from the limelight. This is bad for them—people start questioning their abilities and worth and before you know it, they start getting lower paychecks and end up on QVC hawking flameless candles.

Okay, so that example might be a bit extreme, but you get the picture.

The Hollyweird crowd is vicious to those that don’t maintain the right image (just take a look at the hilarity revolving around the so-called Oscar controversy—and remember they’re arguing and name-calling each other over an award show that glorifies them for pretending…). Most of the country is left shaking their heads at the delusional minds these people possess—as if we care that much about them.

There’s probably other reasons that group would fear people who are prepared (and therefore to varying degrees self-reliant). They don’t have as much influence over you, which means they don’t have as much control over you. They enjoy gaining power and keeping power (just look at Washington, D.C….if you dare).

To sleep easier, they mock and belittle people who are responsible adults and plan for the unexpected. They call us ‘gun nuts’, ‘survivalists’ (luckily, as I mentioned last time, this particular monicker is losing it’s negative connotations pretty quickly), and paranoid. It’s like some sort of time-warp high school—the kids who mock and make fun of others are usually the ones trying to cover up their own inadequacies and fears.

Same thing for their jealousy. The unprepared (by inaction or design) run to the store in an blizzard because they’re out of milk and bread. We roll our eyes and sit back to read a book, knowing our pantry is full and we’ve got a generator should the power go out.

They are the grasshoppers to our ants and they are angry that they didn’t prepare, so they mock us for it and try to make us look silly or somewhat dangerous (after all, we seem to like those evil black guns! Oooooo, scary!).

In short, they want what we have (skills, knowledge, confidence, supplies, forethought) but they don’t want to put the effort in to gain those things like responsible adults. Ultimately, it’s not their fault. They’re trained by the system to wait for handouts, to wait for help, to be unprepared, to follow others.

And so we’re labeled, marginalized and ridiculed by the media…at least until the last decade or so. Ever notice how when there’s an article in a newspaper or magazine that talks about someone who’s more prepared than the average Joe, they’re usually named a “prepper” or “survivalist” and it’s always in quotes like that?

I can just see the reporter with a smarmy look on their face, rolling their eyes and making quotation marks in the air with their fingers. It’s like the media thinks that even though its a lot more mainstream to be prepared these days, they still can’t resist pointing out our scandalous roots by putting the label in quotes. Hey look, they’re okay, but they’re…gasp…different!

So much for tolerance.

Luckily, most of us don’t pay much attention to what the “other side” thinks about us. We’re too busy making sure our families will be okay for the next tornado/hurricane/thunderstorm/ice storm/snowstorm/Snowmageddon/home invasion/carjacking/Zombie apocalypse, etc., ad infinitum. But maybe we should pay more attention to the unprepared among us.

Take, for example, last week’s snow-pocalypse on the east coast. You know what I’m talking about—it was hard to miss news coverage (and I don’t even have cable/satellite TV anymore!).

I watched the nightly news like the rest of the nation, I searched Google, I got the tweets and texts. But I also took notes.

I noticed that 2 days before the snow started falling, people acted…tense. There seemed to me to be an increase in news reports about car accidents on roads that only had a little bit of snow (an inch in D.C. caused hundreds of accidents before the big storm even arrived!). Coming from Texas, where people freak the hell out when it starts snowing, I could sort of understand. Living in Wisconsin as I do now, I laughed my ass off.

The press relentlessly talked up how bad “it could be” (granted, they were right, but no one knew that before the event). People got stressed, drove faster (or more aggressive) and as a result maybe panicked just a little bit easier. People are herd animals (some of us). When we’re driving, a lot (I admit to doing this on occasion) of us look for the “wolf pack” and try to go with the flow, making sure to not be too fast or too slow so as to get picked off by the Police for speeding. Traffic speeds up, we speed up. Traffic slows down, we slow down.

But I digress…

Look at crowds—football games, concerts, you name it—when something gets a handful of people acting together (“doing the wave”), more and more people join in. I love it when crowds chant (usually in Philly) aaaaaassshooole….aaaaassshole….at a sporting event and the TV announcers try to talk louder and faster to cover up the deafening roar of thousands of voices swearing at the same time.

When things start happening the mob takes control and individuals are pulled toward the group like a moon orbiting a planet. It’s inexorable and only those with a sharpened sense of independence (or are determined to not join whatever the hell the group is doing) can avoid getting sucked into things you normally wouldn’t do. There is safety in numbers, hence when things go so, the bad elements tend to coalesce. Go look up riots on Google. Watch some videos of third-world countries rioting in the streets. The cops can’t arrest us all, right?

Back on target…

Anyway, before Snowmageddon ’16, people panicked about their food supplies around 24 hours out and we saw the rise of the Tweets and Facebook posts of bare shelves and empty aisles (milk and bread, baby!) in grocery stores and bodegas from New York to Baltimore. Some of the proud hunters regaled us with tales of what they stocked up on (pay attention here): milk, bread (of course), snack foods and chips, sodas, beer, and cereal. Read this article and look at the pictures. This actually happened.

Are you kidding me? That is the mindset of someone who expects the world to be back to normal in a day or so. As of the time of this writing, it’s now Snowmageddon +5 days and New York is still digging out and showing some attitude.

Am I surprised? Not at all. Most of the people bitching and complaining about the snow removal were probably the ones that emptied the stores of bread and milk and left things like beef jerky, peanut butter, oatmeal, etc., and grabbed the Cheetos and beer instead.

To be fair, a once-in-a-century (oh wait, there was Snowmageddon ’15 too, wasn’t there? Uh…oh, there’s also Snowmageddon ’14…) storm is kind of hard for the average citizen to prepare for.

It’s not all that hard, honestly to prepare for something on this scale, but self-reliant folk are cut from a different cloth (remember that whole pioneer thing I mentioned last time?). It’s nigh impossible for government —city, state, or heaven-forbid the Feds—to prepare for something like that.

Which is why nearly a week later, it’s business-not-as-usual still. Oh, people are open, schools are back (at least some) but it’s nothing like what the world looked like last Wednesday.

Anyway, my takeaway is this: whenever there’s an event that’s slow in developing (hurricane, Snowmageddon, etc.) just watch how the people in harms way react. You have time to get things done and stay gray (we’ll talk about OPSEC and being the Gray Man (or woman) next week). Looks like 24–48 hours pre-event, depending on how much media-hype is attached, is when people start to go crazy.

Oddly enough, it’s when the event is actually happening that people tend to chill out and ‘hunker down’. Give yourself another few days post-event for the tempers to start flaring and watch the cracks in civility start to show.

Now, imagine that NYC or Philly or Baltimore or D.C. (or all or most of them!) had lost power on top of all that snow? How long to you think it would take for the excrement to hit the fan? Remember, it took 4 days for people to start leaving well-thought out snark-o-grams on street corners when they believed businesses weren’t doing enough to clear the sidewalk?

That’s why we prepare. That’s why they mock us. And that’s why we walk away laughing with a steaming cup of coffee or tea back to our sofa in our well heated, well stocked house/apartment/cabin while they’re bitching on Twitter about the corner not being cleared enough for them to walk and text without landing in a snowdrift 4 days after a record-breaking weather event.

Next time: What’s my favorite color? (hint: it’s gray…)



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