Which brings me back to today’s Doomsday Preppers. I watched several episodes on TV and as a survival expert and as a psychologist, I felt my concern growing that something was happening here that wasn’t so healthy — at the same time I wondered if these people had a point. What the series clearly demonstrated to me was a total lack of trust in government at all levels to protect and care for its citizens.
So do the Preppers have a valid point? Will central and regional government, the law enforcement agencies, rescue services and the armed forces abandon the civilian population and leave their survival to chance?
Will these authorities be in a position to make even the basic provisions for the survival of the general population? Chances are they won’t and there is a risk that, should the worst happen, the general public will be left to fend for themselves for a varied period of time depending on the magnitude of the disaster and the ability of those in charge to organize themselves and help the general population.
If we accept that the general public may be left to fend for themselves, are the Preppers then right that human nature will quickly plummet to primitive levels of survival with armed gangs taking what they want, roaming around killing and looting at will? Or, will the best come out in people and will they help each other in a time of collective need?
The series, Doomsday Preppers, portrays the US culture as a gun-toting, lawless and extremely uncaring and selfish population hell-bent on personal survival at all costs. Possibly, because the people featured in the documentary are doomsday phobics who have become totally obsessive with doomsday preparation and have a secret desire for the worst to happen, which would be the ultimate justification for their obsession with personal survival.
Many of us growing up in the 1960’s, the Cold War Period, were exposed to the horror of the threat of a nuclear attack. Schoolchildren being drilled what to do if the 4-minute warning sirens went off — lie down and cover your head — resist looking at the flash as this reflexive glance would lead to certain blindness.
I lived through the tense few days of the Cuban Missile Crisis as a young man at university. Many people thought nuclear war was imminent and that fear left its mark on many. Young children faced with thoughts of death; of perhaps surviving on one’s own with no family to care for you, totally vulnerable with a limited chance of surviving, these are heavy concerns for a child. This is one of my main concerns about the modern day Doomsday Preppers.
Watching the TV series and seeing young children being drilled what to do if “disaster strikes” has a sensible element to it if you subscribe to the Doomsday Prepper philosophy, but it also has a macabre side to it. Instead of helping mom to make more preserved foods ready for the day when the world falls apart, going through gas mask and “bugging-out” drills, they should be out playing with friends and enjoying the carefree days that end soon enough anyway.
Many Preppers on the series go to great trouble to explain that they present their Doomsday preparations as “play” to their children, but it is obvious watching the children that it affects them. Is it right that these children grow up fearing the world will end, that civilization will break down? That they may end up having to handle firearms and fight alongside their parent to defend stores of food and equipment?
Is it right that these children think they may have to live in an underground bunker for days on end, fearing what sort of world they will come out to? A Doomsday Prepper would say it is. If you don’t subscribe to their philosophy, one could say they are seriously damaging their children psychologically.