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.
The question “What if…?” is arguably one of the most important questions humans have ever asked, right up there with “How come..?” By posing the problem “What if…” man allows himself to discover answers. Even a failed “What if…” provides the attentive viewer with information. Early Man may have asked “What if we poke that Saber Tooth Tiger in the testicles with a stick? Go ahead, you do it.” So he asked and so he learned. But “What if…” can also provide you with unexpected solutions, such as “What if a bunch of us Australopithecines teamed up against that mastodon,” which lead to the invention of the first all-you-can eat buffet, the benefits of which we enjoy even down to modern times.
Buffets aside, one of the problems of our modern times is the complexity and technological entanglement of the civilization we’ve built. The need to ask “What if…” is more important than ever, if for no other reason than the desire to protect family and clan. Because of the enormity of the factors to consider, the layman questioner could be overwhelmed with scenarios and data. That is where both Dr. James Jay Carafano and I (Roy M. Griffis) come riding to your rescue, albeit from opposite directions. The good Doctor hales from the direction of facts and experience, and myself from the land of fiction.
Carafano, a career Army officer who has gone onto a distinguished career writing thinking about disasters that threaten our nation, took the time to not only ask “What if…,” but he spent a lot of time answering that question. His book, Surviving the End, is exactly what its subtitle proclaims, a practical guide for everyday Americans in the age of terror. Given the various Ends he contemplates (plagues, nuclear attack, the many flavors of terrorism, the under-feared EMP attack, and even a Cyber Pearl Harbor), Carafano is remarkably even-handed, presenting facts and outcomes calmly with just an occasional bit of wry humor to let you know he knows how seriously grim most of this stuff is. He studiously provides data and incredibly useful links to education and free training, along with preparatory lists you can use immediately, all the while avoiding sensationalism (leaving that for folks like me, where I describe survivors of a coordinated series of Al Qaeda attacks that stagger and ultimately shatter the nation as “running like their ass was on fire.”)
It’s weirdly ironic I’m writing this piece, given that I’ve just returned from a book-launch party in New York City with good memories, great photos, and the flu. As such, I’m almost a lab subject for the plagues portion of his book. On a plane for six hours, where roughly 300 passengers exchanged seats, breathing the air I was likely infecting, then in two different international airports, where I was able to infect more people, and on one more plane and yet another airport. I didn’t begin to feel ill until two days later, but per his startling research, I was likely sharing the virus everywhere I went. And I was just one asymptomatic, but flu-incubating individual, unknowingly helping create additional virus factories everywhere I went. Had the virulence of this illness been bumped up to the levels of something like the Spanish Flu, we could have a real problem on our hands.
But according to Carafano’s thoughtful explication, a lot of the solution lies in our hands, as well. Again and again, he returns to the theme of taking personal responsibility (and lists a hell of lot of resources to help you do so): for our health, for having a disaster plan (and a bugout bag), for having established and practiced communication trees well before the Big One strikes.
Grim? Perhaps. Far-fetched? Not so much.
But useful, informative, and empowering? Hell, yes.