Culture

What Will You Do When the Worst Happens?

You’re reading a post for Preparedness Week, a weeklong series of blogs about disaster and emergency preparation inspired by the launch of Freedom Academy’s newest e-book, Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terror by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. You can download the e-book exclusively at the PJ Store here.

I think about the worst things that could happen to average Americans, every day. It’s my job. My number one concern is trying to promote the sorts of policies and decisions that will prevent the worst from happening. But barring that, I want you to be prepared. That’s why I wrote Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terror. My new e-book is available today in the PJ Store. Every chapter is full of information on how to deal with a different disaster: EMP attacks, terrorism, biological warfare, and more. Preparedness is for everyone. You don’t have to have a bunker full of canned goods to survive – you just need the basic skills and info I outline in Surviving the End. Here’s a preview:

“Glenn Beck wants you.”

Not necessarily words everyone wants to hear.

For Washington “talking heads,” calls to jump in front of a TV camera with no advance notice is part of the job. Talking about the issues of the day—whatever those happen to be—is a daily occurrence.  Having little or no time to think about the answer? That’s the norm. When it comes to live cable-news interviews, experts are supposed to show up shovel-ready.

But being with Beck took being put on the spot to a whole new level. Expect the unexpected.

In 2006, the popular radio talk-show host joined CNN Headline News. Anchoring a program that delivered breaking stories and commentary, Beck’s ratings shot up faster than a sprinter on a StairMaster. Everybody loved Beck (or loved to hate him). He delivered animated, irreverent, surprise twists on the news that other cable news programs couldn’t keep up with.

There was no telling where Glenn would take a story. That’s always been a puzzler for pundits. For the person on the other end of the interview, dialogue with Beck could be like mowing grass in a minefield.

Be prepared for anything.

This wasn’t my first time live with Beck. I figured I was ready for the roller-coaster.

I was wrong.

The producer titled the segment “Signs Pointing to Armageddon? Author Claims to Be Descendent of Christ.”

Beck kicked off the hour declaring, “Well, everybody is talking about politics today, and we will, too, later on in the program. But first I want to talk about something much more important. August 22 is the day that Israel might be wiped off the map, leading to all out Armageddon.”

Say what?

“August 22 could be the day that makes people who are the most skeptical about my World War III theory say ‘Holy Mother of God, what’s happening?’” Beck warned. “August 22 could be the day that agnostics get down on one knee and start to pray, ‘Sweet Jesus, are you coming today?’”

Princeton University scholar Bernard Lewis, the anchor reported, “is suggesting that Iran’s Islamic end of times prophecies could be fulfilled on August 22 …13 days from now.”  That day marks the occasion of the great night journey in 671, al-Isra wal-Miraj, when the Archangel transported the Prophet Muhammad to the Aqsa mosque and then to heaven and back again. It is also the date celebrated for Saladin recapturing Jerusalem in 1187. “So to Muslims, I guess,” Beck surmised, “August 22 is like Christmas and Thanksgiving and New Year’s all rolled up into one.”

“Here’s what is truly frightening. My theory,” Beck declared straight to the camera. “President Ahmadinejad [of Iran] has repeatedly stated that he wants to personally bring back the 12th imam by destroying Israel. That’s Armageddon. He says that he would respond to the West’s question about his country’s nuclear program at the end of August.” Perhaps, Beck fretted, that announcement would unveil Iran’s nuclear breakout, in turn leading to inevitable war and the beginning of the end of it all.

“Now here’s what I don’t know,” Beck concluded. “I don’t know if anything’s going to happen on August 22, and honestly I really hope and I believe that nothing will happen. But we no longer live in a world that makes sense. I mean, anything can happen.”

So, was something going to occur or not?

“Jim?”

Then the camera swung to the security expert—me.

What to say to an audience of millions when the anchor wants to know if the clock is ticking toward the end of times?

There is no place for dead air in cable news. Even before Beck asked the question, everyone expected an immediate answer.

“Well, I’ve got to tell you one thing,” I blurted. “For 2,000 years people have been predicting the end of the world, and some day somebody’s going to be right.”

It was kind of an answer.

It might not have been the answer Beck was looking for.

It also might not have been the last time I was on the show. (Time will tell.)

In retrospect, perhaps a flippant comment wasn’t the best way to kick off the discussion. But that’s not why this particular media moment proved hard to forget.

Having done thousands of interviews for television, radio, film documentaries, and the Web, everywhere from ESPN to Al Jazeera, it is pretty impossible to remember the particulars of what was said in each of them. But that night with Beck was different.

It stuck.

It revealed an important truth to all of us who really care about protecting our families from harm by doing what we can, when we can, to keep them safe.

It is also the reason for this book.

Beck was right. “Anything can happen.” We should never, ever forget that.

Not only can the most improbable events materialize, they often do. And we are usually ill-prepared from them.

The unthinkable occurs all the time.

***

I spend my days thinking about the unthinkable. Now it’s time for you to, too. Download my new e-book, Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terror here.