John Whitman’s Blog: Disaster Preparedness

John Talking to Group cropped

There’s an axiom among disaster “preppers” that says we should educate others on preparedness so that they are not helpless during an emergency. Sure, it’s the right thing to do, but there is another reason: if your neighbors are as prepared as you are, they become an asset rather than a liability.

The same is true of self defense. The greater the number of law-abiding good guys who can fight, the larger the team of heroes in an emergency. If I am at a venue and an active shooter opens fire, I don’t want to be a lone defender. I would be happy if a dozen people jumped the bad guy before I could do anything.

I remember training at the Israeli Military Institute years ago, where one of the instructors talked about the “galloping horse” theory. It said, in essence, that if you are not in communication with your team, act as though they are all dead and you alone are responsible for stopping the threat. I agree with training for that worst case, but I also believe in raising the level of everyone around me so that the worst case never arrives.

For that to happen, our friends and colleagues need to train. Like the prepper who encourages his neighbors to stock up on supplies, we need to get our loved ones involved in self defense. Show them that they don’t need to be like the bunker-builder who spends all his income on gas masks and iodine tablets. Disaster preparedness takes only a reasonable amount of time and planning, and provides both readiness and peace of mind. Likewise, self defense training requires only a few hours a week, and provides fitness and self confidence as well as preparedness. We need to inspire those around us to train for their own sake and for the sake of others.

At a disaster preparedness conference, I heard a speaker tell his audience, “I hope I am wasting your time and money. I hope you never have to use anything I teach you.” The same is true of self defense. I hope my students, my colleagues, and my family never need a single technique or tactic that I show them. But hope is not a plan. I want every one of my neighbors stocked up on food and water so that we are all a help, not a hindrance, to one another, if disaster strikes.

And I want everyone in my community to be self reliant in self defense. Imagine the effect that could have on bullying, crime, and sexual assault. Imagine how much that could reduce the loss of life in an active shooter situation. Self defense is the very essence of disaster preparedness for yourself and your community.

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