I don’t get as much time as I’d like to spend on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co each day, unfortunately. Gone are the days of the three-hour show when there was plenty of time to talk about all of the major stories (and a few minor ones as well). I have to prioritize now and generally stick to one subject, and today I really felt like it was important to get beyond politics for a few minutes and talk about one of the most fundamental concerns for many people right now; being as safe and secure as possible during these chaotic times.

That’s why I invited Jon Stokes, editor of The Prepared, to join me on today’s show to get his take on just how shaky society is at the moment, where we might be headed, and how best to prepare for whatever else 2021 has in store for us.

Stokes believes (and I agree) that the COVID-19 pandemic is the root cause of our current political, economic, and societal stressors. The lockdowns, closings of businesses, social isolation, and (for many of us) the death or illness of loved ones have collectively left us more stressed, exhausted, angry, and scared than at any time since World War II. Take COVID-19 out of the equation and, according to Stokes, the riots we saw this summer and fall likely wouldn’t have been as widespread or as violent; the attack on the U.S. Capitol probably wouldn’t have occurred; and we wouldn’t have seen the sharp rise in violent crime, drug overdose deaths, and suicidal ideation that have taken place since last March.

Unfortunately, COVID isn’t going away any time soon, even with vaccines now being administered every day, and it remains Stokes’ primary concern for the moment. Supply chain issues are still present in many sectors of the economy, and Stokes says he’s been hearing chatter about renewed problems with obtaining raw material like aluminum and CO2. The wholesale slaughter of livestock back in the spring is also now being felt at the grocery stores, and Stokes says you shouldn’t be surprised to see increased prices and less stock in beef and pork products for the next few months.

When I asked Stokes what he sees for the nation over the next four weeks or so, he didn’t sound the alarm about the impeding collapse of society, but he certainly didn’t suggest that life was going to return to normal (even by 2020 standards). Instead, he says that the window of possibilities has expanded. It’s hard to predict what’s around the corner, in other words. As frustrating an answer as that might be, it’s also true.

As he reminded me though, even in times of outright civil war the mail in most places gets delivered, the economy doesn’t shut down, and even elections take place. Life isn’t normal, but it still goes on. The same holds true in our current position, which is at least slightly less precarious and hopefully remains that way. It’s a good idea to have a couple of weeks worth of food and water on hand, and Stokes recommends having at least a few gallons of gas at your house in case you need to get to a safer place and haven’t filled up.

Make sure your first aid kit is fully stocked so you can avoid visiting the doctor or hospital as much as possible. I’d add some training with your firearms, and trying to use tools and techniques that allow you to practice without actually expending any rounds of ammunition because it’s going to remain in short supply for the foreseeable future.

Stokes and I also spoke about the need for mental preparedness, and one of the most important things that you can do in that regard is to make sure you’re not overwhelmed with the firehose of information, news stories, unconfirmed rumors, conspiracy theories, rage, vitriol, and uninformed opinion that is social media. Take time to disconnect from doomscrolling through your feed. Go for a walk. Give a friend a phone call. I take about an hour every evening to watch TV and hang out with my wife, and I give myself another hour to read a book without looking at my phone or laptop.

The bad news will be there when you get back, I promise. It’s not just okay to take a break, it’s good for you. I’m convinced that our brains haven’t figured out yet how to cope with social media, which has been the most revolutionary change in how we communicate with one another since.. well, ever.

Telegraphs and telephones allowed us to communicate long distance with one another; radio and television allowed a chosen few to communicate to the masses instantaneously; the early days of the Internet allowed for discussion boards and chat rooms, but they were still limited to fairly small groups. It’s really only been in the past decade or so that the flow of information has become a roaring river that allows all of us to talk to (and over) each other all the time. Social media is fueled by outrage, and the developers know how to keep us hooked by delivering little shots of dopamine to our system with every like, retweet, and snarky response. It’s aggravating our problems just like COVID-19 is, though obviously not with the same kind of impact.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, in order to be prepared for the next curveball that will inevitably come our way, prepare yourself mentally as well as making sure that your physical environment is stocked with what you need to ride out a week or two of lockdowns or bugging out. These are precarious times, but there are steps you can take to put yourself and your family on firmer ground. Make sure you check out the entire conversation with Jon Stokes today, and tomorrow we’ll get back to talking politics.

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