"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
August 23, 2012
The End of the World
by Hannah Bird

It’s the end of the world as we know it.  Again.

When I was in college in the early 90’s, I noticed an odd trend.  Young college students were spending an awful lot of time talking about the end of the world.  Things were going to change.  A new millennium was dawning and nothing would ever be the same.  

The range of theories and reactions was wide.  An acquaintance couple filled the living room of their tiny apartment with food storage.  Conspiracy theories abounded.  Some people made long-term choices based on the premise that our society was short term.  And everywhere there were people looking to feed fear and make profits.

Of course all this fear was well justified.  We all remember the horrible catastrophes of the year 2000.  Power plants exploded.  The monetary system crashed and we developed a new system of trade based on colored M&M’s.  TV stations went off air en masse, although some people were still somehow able to watch 1970’s game shows. There was no food in the grocery store beyond some Alpo and a box of Durian flavored breakfast cereal that was mistakenly shipped to the US instead of Laos.  

People were viciously attacked by their computers (and this was dangerous because monitors in those dark days weighed as much as my 11-year-old).  To borrow a line, cats and dogs were living together.  It was mass hysteria.

You remember that don’t you?

Me neither.

None of it happened.  None of the fear-mongering panned out.  None of the darkest predictions came true.  To quote my diary from January 1st, 2000, it was the “lamest Apocalypse ever.”  In the end, it was just fine.

Which is not to say that preparations were not a good idea.  Look what has happened since.

There was an attack on US soil that cost more than 3,000 lives.  The housing bubble inflated, leaving people in way over their head on mortgages, and then burst, leaving people in way over their heads on living indoors, period.  We’ve had a decade-long war.  Unemployment has risen so dramatically that unless you are an investment banker with the skills needed to drive 401Ks into the ground, it is very hard to get a job.  

Much of our farmland is in a drought so serious that it will be years before farmers recover.  The cost of animal feed has doubled and even tripled in some areas.  It won’t be long before those prices show up at the meat counter of your local grocery store.  

The hard times did come.  They just didn’t look they way we thought they would.

So here we are again, looking at the end of the world.  The Mayans ran out of room on their stone tablet, and apparently this means that life as we know it is going to end in December of 2012.  I thought this was meaningless since Christ says no man knows the hour of his return, but apparently the more updated versions include “except those clever clever Mayans.  You can’t get one past them.”  

There will natural disasters.  The Mississippi River will decide to flow east.  There will be no more Thursdays.  Junior High will last forever.  Anyone who does not have food prepared is going to wish they could get their hands on some Alpo or Durian flavored breakfast cereal.

There is fresh fever about preparedness.  Now it is a nationwide trend, as evidenced by the fact that the phenomenon has its own reality show.  People are responding not only to the doomsday prophecies but the dramatic economic decline in our nation.  We are getting prepared because hard times are coming.  Again.

Or rather, still.  Hard times are always coming.  They always have and they always will.  We should be getting prepared.  But we should never be getting scared.  It’s not too late to start.  The Church has put out great information on gathering and using food storage.  Take advantage of those resources.  

But in addition to food, supplies, and fuel, I would like to add some other things we need to make sure we have in abundance.

First, faith.  It’s always first.  You need faith in the Lord.  You need faith in his ability to lead you and prepare you.

Second, love.  You need love for your family, your neighbors, and your fellow man.  The friendships and connections you make today are the same ones you will have in a crisis.  Make strong friendships.  Work together in a spirit of love and cooperation.  In a crisis, whether personal or global, a trusted team of allies is an invaluable asset.

Third, a firm grasp of the principles of the gospel.  I was stunned one day to listen to an LDS prepper explain his plan for turning away the needy during a crisis since he was prepared and they were not.  I am not advocating letting your family starve in favor of strangers.  I am just suggesting that any plan that ends with you giving “the ant and the grasshopper” speech to a starving child is not based on a thorough knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, flexibility.  The emergency you are preparing for may not be the one you get. Hunger may not result in a Hollywood-worthy natural disaster.  It might come when your neighbor abandons his family.  It might come when you get laid off.  It might come when your sons and daughters try to establish their own households under the weight of escalating food prices.  We must be willing to be lead to use our preparations not only for ourselves but also for others as directed by the Holy Ghost.

Fifth, gratitude.  Be thankful for what you have been taught.  Be thankful for resources that help you be prepared.  Be thankful for the friends and neighbors you have the opportunity to serve.  

It is gratitude that protects us from becoming a one note piano hammering away.  It is gratitude that helps us recognize the Lord and his love for us.  It is gratitude that protects us from becoming cruel or proud if we are more prepared or even fortunate than others.

And last, a sense of humor.  Because honestly, if you can’t laugh during a crisis, you’re doing it wrong.  

So get ready.  Stack up your shake flashlights and glowsticks.  Pick your favorite water purifier.  Put buckets of beans in the basement.  Be prepared to use them while you live in your basement-turned-bunker, or when you know someone needs food, at the ward campout, or during a two-day power outage next January after an uneventful December.

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About Hannah Bird

I am me. I live at my house with my husband and kids. Mostly because I have found that people get really touchy if you try to live at their house. Even after you explain that their towels are fluffier and none of the cheddar in their fridge is green.

I teach Relief Society and most of the sisters in the ward are still nice enough to come.

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