Be Prepared, by the Zman

Being prepared used to be a commonly accepted article of faith. Now people who prepare are denigrated and deplored by the grasshoppers who don’t. From the Zman at

Older readers will surely recall being taught as children the importance of being prepared for the various emergencies that are a part of life. Before the usual suspects destroyed the Boy Scouts, preparedness was a central part of the Scout ethos. People used to regularly make sure they had things like candles and matches in the house. Every equinox we were told that it is a good time to check batteries, test out flashlights and portable radios, as part of general preparedness.

Being prepared fell out of fashion over the last few decades, as technology made the supply chain a marvel of timeliness. In a world where you can order something on-line and have it the next day, being prepared takes on a different meaning. Today, a weather event means having the latest games on the Xbox and your watch-list ready for a day of video entertainment. In modern America, emergencies are an excuse to have a party and enjoy the emergency unfold on television.

This is probably why some people panic and buy ridiculous things like toilet paper and bottled water before storms and now before the plague. The emergency triggers something in people. The items they buy are symbolic. At some level, people know they are dependent on a system that they don’t understand very well, or trust all that much, to be there when it counts. The panic buying is a reaction to the sudden reminder that we are not as prepared to make it very long on our own.

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