I’ve noticed a curious dichotomy emerging over the past few years. Government is increasingly encouraging us to prepare for problems – many local authorities now have webpages offering tips to prepare for flooding, droughts, severe snow or powercuts – yet in the media, preppers are often protrayed as “hoarding” food and equipment.
Throughout history, people have always tried to preserve something of the good times when trouble strikes – many fine archeological finds have been “hoards” of coins and metalwork buried by worried families threatened by Viking raids, for example. So why is it bad to “hoard”?
“Hoarding” has negative connotations, perhaps stemming from the World Wars, when hoarding food was strongly discouraged to ensure people didn’t try to consume more than their fair share of resources. TV programmes show people with OCD who’ve stashed so many copies of old newspapers that you have to negotiate corridors sideways and call this “hoarding”.
I, like many other preppers, don’t like to consider that the stockpiles we build up to tide us through bad times are bad things to have. We aren’t selfishly stealing away threatened resources to ensure others can’t have them. Anyone can buy a few extra tins or packets of food, put them at the back of the cupboard for a rainy day and they’re not being selfish and unreasonable, merely showing a little forethought and common sense. We choose to invest our spare income in acquiring a buffer against potential trouble. Others are free to do the same – or send their money on holidays, new cars, new clothes, or whatever else they want to buy. It’s a free choice!
In an ideal world, of course, all of us would like to think our grandchildren will be sniggering at the unused items stashed away when they come to clear our houses after our long, peaceful and uneventful lives come to an end. Occasionally, there are reports of false walls being discovered with a collection of cans of food from the 1940s or entire fallout shelters complete with supplies that are unexpectedly found in people’s gardens.
Sadly, the world is not ideal and those of us who think that (as the song says) there may be trouble ahead are merely using our free time, free cash and our common sense to lay in a buffer against hard times. That’s not hoarding and it’s not a bad thing to do. It doesn’t make us bad people.
It just makes us self-reliant and less of a drain on the taxpayer’s purse when, if and as trouble does arrive.