One of the challenges I face in encouraging others to be better prepared is that of optimism. Optimism is a great quality, except when it acts to discourage you from taking action to become more self-sufficient.
We see this phenomenon often. When the economy improves, people lose their fear of an economic set back. When we go several years without a hurricane or severe weather, people pay less attention to the risk such weather hazards create.
I suspect some folks out there are reading the news and drawing the conclusion that since there are signs things are getting better, they can let their guard down. It's easy to see why:
- Consumer sentiment hit a five year high in October.
- Unemployment numbers continue to inch downward.
- Contributions to 401(k) plans are up.
- Home prices continue to rebound.
Given the fact our economy seems to be rebounding, does this mean we're okay to slack off?
I'd like to give you a couple of things to consider. First, there are still a number of reasons to believe our economic recovery remains fragile. U.S. News reports that more Americans will use food stamps this Thanksgiving than ever before. And at one food bank, demand for food is up 400% from last year.
And second, even if the first point wasn't true (or if you disagree with it), the peril you face may not be the one you're preparing for. Lots of people prepared for Y2K - a huge non-event - and yet some twenty months later, we were facing the shock of the 9/11 attacks. And think about New Orleans - years between major hurricanes certainly lulled many there into a false sense of security, only to get a tutorial on how bad things can get if you're not prepared for a large hurricane.
Don't get fixated on this crisis or that threat. Life is a series of challenges, and even a few disasters every now and then. We prepare for them the best we can, not getting fixated on the looming crisis nor letting our guard down when it doesn't happen.
I Have It On Good Authority There's No Crime In My Neighborhood.
A few years ago, I took on the (thankless) role of Traffic and Safety Chairman for our HOA. Failing to heed the old adage that nothing good ever comes from a HOA, I jumped in with both feet in an effort to raise awareness of the various crimes that were being committed in our hood and surrounding hoods.
My efforts were met with ridicule and scorn. One person disdainfully emailed me to say "we live in a crime free neighborhood" after I shared reports from other residents about a suspicious vehicle that had been seen driving around. (A few months later, a break in occurred in the very cul de sac where this same complainer lives.)
On another evening, when the spouse of a frequent reader of this blog called me to say someone attempted a home invasion at her home moments earlier, I emailed the HOA members to let them know what happened. The reaction was fierce - I was accused by many of "fear mongering." (The suspect went into one backyard, took a chair from the patio, used that to crawl over the fence into the second backyard where the caller lived, and tried to make entry into the back door of the house, at night, with all the lights on inside. I'm pretty sure that's a home invasion by definition.)
And so today, I chucked when I read a story in our local newspaper that local deputies had run down a car jacker from another part of town roughly 1,000 yards from where my wife works. The deputy had opened fire on the suspect vehicle in an effort to get it to stop.
Just because you live in a "safe" neighborhood doesn't mean you are immune from crime. In today's instance, law enforcement opened fire on a vehicle less than two miles from our house.
These things happen. Prepare accordingly.