Is preparing for survival after Armageddon a smart use of time and effort?

There’s a popular show on the National Geographic Channel called “Doomsday Preppers.”

It’s about folks—even entire families—who wake up each morning thinking this could be the day when all hell breaks loose and civilization itself comes crashing down around them in flaming, disintegrating pieces.

Not wanting to get their butts smoked by such a scenario, they’re preparing for any eventuality, be it nuclear war, killer earthquakes or volcanoes, “electro-magnetic pulse” attacks, or such a dramatic shift in Earth’s rotational status that Texas would wind up somewhere near Santa’s present home and polar bears would find themselves severely confused and panting, deep in the tropics, just before expiring from hyperthermia.

These endlessly worried souls have amassed huge quantities of non-perishable food and bottled water. They’re rehearsing how to “bug out” from uninhabitable cities to somehow more friendly rural environs, and are armed to the teeth, ready to blow away those left hungry by depleted supermarkets.

You know, the desperate dudes who’d show up at the front door with baseball bats, demanding, “Your beans and wieners . . . or your life!”

It really isn’t anything to joke about, considering how Greece is already experiencing the kind of socio-politico-economic total chaos and mass desperation that would generate wholesale hysteria and panicked runs on malls and banks if it happened here.

Quite apart from the Greek tragedy that’s apocalyptically eroding societal soil beneath the Acropolis, or that dire Mayan calendar prediction that we’re all nervously familiar with, doomsday fear is pretty pervasively spreading.

We’ve got a local jeweler here, for instance, who’s been running a 50%-off “Second Coming” sale for well over two years now. Jesus had better show up soon, or that trusting Christian will have to file for bankruptcy!

Personally, I’ve always been somewhat of a survivalist. As a kid, greatly influenced by Boy’s Life magazine and the entire Scouting ethos, I filled an army surplus ammo bag with everything imaginable that would permit me to live through a few nights being lost in the nearby woods.

That survival kit seldom left my closet, however, because it was too darned heavy to carry for more than a few yards, let alone across the backyard, and into the forest.

To this day, though, I’ll always take a multi-tool, a space blanket, redundant fire-starting means, etc., whenever I think I could wander off the beaten path and not know my location from an oozing hole in the ground.

At no time, however, have I ever contemplated trying to outlast the end of time.

Back when the nuclear Doomsday Clock was a few minutes before midnight and still ticking—before thankful sanity blocked the closed fist of deadly US-Soviet belligerency—I always figured that, if frantic news bulletins told of Moscow’s missiles headed my way, I’d climb a nearby hill and simply wait for the final pyrotechnics.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t work with countless others to try to implement the Nuclear Freeze, because we certainly did.

It’s lamentable that our culture’s excessive self-absorption has created such a private-profit mess that we’re foolishly generating harrowing economic and environmental reasons for validly fearing the demise of planetary civilization.

Instead of equally as wrongly focusing on some of us surviving the worst prospects of what our misguided narrowness is leading toward, shouldn’t we devote our energies to getting our heads on straight, in a collectively salvational sense, before it’s too late?

After all, there’d be no long-term survival in a world gone completely to ruin. Just a painful, frightening wait for the last gasp.

Far better to get involved with the constructive ideas and actions exemplified by the Occupy movement and other progressive causes than to build individual armed fortresses brimming with canned goods, and then warily watch through binoculars from their ramparts for the possible approach of human “intruders” who could use a little something to eat.

Justice and common sense beforehand, built through enlightened unity, are how to avert that abysmal outcome.

People-before-profit priorities, honest government and commerce, elemental decency, untainted popular democracy, equal opportunity for all, and smart ecological stewardship are vitally required.

They comprise the bulwark that can keep us healthy and happy far into a shared, secure future.

Dennis Rahkonen of Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the ’60s.

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