The Equation of Dread

by | Feb 25, 2010 | Emergency Preparedness, The Survival Mom | 11 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article has been contributed by The Survival Mom for your reading pleasure. Visit The Survival Mom Blog for more emergency preparedness information and resources.

    One of the books I’ve been reading may be the most fascinating read of the year.  Recommended by reader LizLong, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why is worth every minute of your time.

    Always wearing my Prepper Thinking Cap, I realized that the reason we are all working toward self-reliance and preparedness can be summed up in an equation the author, Amanda Ripley, defines.  It is an equation for the feeling of dread.

    Dread = Uncontrollability + Unfamiliarity + Imaginability + Suffering + Scale of Destruction + Unfairness

    Stick with me as we walk through this equation, and tell me if it doesn’t summarize quite well why you are preparing.


    How much control do you feel you have over current events?  If your answer is, “virtually none,” you’re right!  Gold prices, interest rates, unemployment, political turmoil, plummeting home prices, rising fuel costs, out-of-control government spending, and inflation are just a few examples of over which we have no control.  It’s always been this way, I suppose, but the level of intensity has increased and the stakes seem to be higher than ever.


    Our generation has come of age in a time of prosperity, peace, and hopes for a bright future.  Each day, it seems, blaring headlines herald news of some new approaching disaster, and it presents an unfamiliar future.  What does an economic collapse actually look like?  How might a devalued dollar affect our future?  What do I need to worry about and what can I safely ignore? These are unfamiliar waters to all of us, adding to the feeling of dread.


    Paradoxically, a future filled with devastation, war, and famine is imaginable because it’s been a popular theme in Hollywood movies, TV series, and best-selling novels.  We read of ragged survivors living in a hell on earth and then see it realistically portrayed on the silver screen.  In spite of our continued prosperity and safety, the images fill our imaginations, and we wonder, “Is that really what the future will look like?”  None of the scenarios seem all that fantastic anymore.  A future of bleak landscapes and leveled cities isn’t beyond the scope of our imaginations.


    Will we lose our house and be homeless?  Will I have to watch my children starve?  Might I be in the wrong place at the wrong time and die in a terrorist attack?  As our future looks more and more uncertain, it’s natural to wonder how much we will suffer in terms of physical and emotional pain.  The picture has been painted for us by Hollywood, and it’s no surprise that we react on an emotional level:  How much will I suffer?

    Scale of destruction

    On the scale of destruction, what could be bigger and more terrifying than a collapse of the American economy? Nothing of that magnitude, affecting so many millions of people has happened in human history.  Terrorist attacks or massive Katrina-like disasters bring to mind hundreds, if not thousands, of lost lives and the destruction of homes, businesses, and communities.


    Finally, whatever scenario or event the future might hold, none of us deserve it.  My children don’t deserve to suffer.  My neighbors don’t deserve months of unemployment and the loss of their modest home.  Undoubtedly, whatever calamity hits, the distribution of loss and suffering will not be equal.  Some will not be affected at all, buffered by geography, wealth, or social position or simply the coincidence of being in the right place at the right time.

    This equation is quite accurate in defining how many of us view the future.  Dread propels us to take action, but ironically, those actions help dispel the dread, not fuel it. Some critics of preppers claim that we live in a constant state of fear, but nothing could be further from the truth.  The most fearful people, I find, are the ones who are aware of the storm clouds but, for whatever reason, refuse to take action.  In fact, my own Equation of Dread would include one last element: unpreparedness.

    This article has been contributed by The Survival Mom for your reading pleasure. Visit The Survival Mom Blog for more emergency preparedness information and resources.


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      1. Well thought out , well written . Also into the equation is the sence of impending doom that most of us feel .  Its like being on a familuar road but all of a sudden you have a warning to slow down just before a blind curve and when you do on the other side is a car wreck int he middle of the road . Many of us preppers have the same feeling of a great desaster approaching and now is the time to get ready . And time is running out .

      2. We are on the verge of armageddon. The perfect storm. Economically, morally, and with the rumors of war…

      3. Great link Culvert. That’s going up as a post in short-order!

      4. Tongue in cheekiness aside, there is some truth to the video games teaching survival/tactical skills. Games like Call of Duty definitely teaches some simple proper combat techniques

        re. Fallout 3. I am not a video gameaholic (a 40 year old man with kids) but I became addicted to Fallout 3 for awhile. For a few weeks after starting to play it, everywhere I went  I pictured the surroundings as they would look in the  falloutworld, very surreal.

      5. I have NO fear or dread for the CHANGES that are coming in these “last days” (however  long or short they be) before the trigger (whatever that may be) that brings TEOTWAWKI.

        As a Christian, TEOTWAWKI is a scenario that I have expected for a very, very long time. It will come as no surprise to me when the human experiment finally comes to the proverbial fork in the road.

        Life is unfair. Life was meant to be challenging. Suffering is unfortunate but like poverty, it builds strength of character when our response to it is noble and principled.

        Yes, the scale of destruction will be immense. And frankly, the collapse of the current American financial system and economy is NOT the worst scenario that I can envision. We have been THERE before as a nation. We can endure this too.

        It will be the physical changes with the Pole Shift in 2015 that will be most challenging, because then, ALL systems will be stressed, not just your bank account. More than 30 million people live in California, and on that “Great and Terrible Day” 6 million people will be left. More than 12 million people live in London. Yet on that Day only 6 million will be left. 

        I have NO fear of the present circumstances or those that may come, because I am familiar with the still small voice within me, and I can control how I feel, how I respond, and how I prepare for future events.

        Life was meant to be lived in the world; but not of the world. We are all mortal and in the end all that we take with us is our consciousness and our character at the appointed time.

        Still, when I go, I will go, kicking and screaming all the way!  🙂

      6. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
        A statement that has been heard since the dawn of mankind.
        And it still hasn’t happened!

      7. With all due respect Ed, I don’t think we’re referring to an Armageddon dinosaur-extinction type event here. It is my view that there are numerous examples throughout history of the sky falling. The last century produced significant “sky-is-falling” events including WWI, Weimar Hyperinflation, WWII, civil wars in the Africas, currency collapses in Russia, Argentina, Zimbabwe… And these are just some of the man-made disasters… Natural disasters are a whole different ball-game and occur regularly, often affecting entire regions and tens of thousands of people.

        So, just because many/most of us have never experienced a serious sky-is-falling event does not mean it can’t happen.

        I believe we’re referring to, more or less, any event that could effect the world as we know it, not one that necessarily destroys the world.

      8. For me, I guess I fall somewhere between Airborne’s — waiting for the other shoe to drop, and zukadu’s — God is in control.  I view preparedness as something that makes sense, even if the sky never does fall!

      9. Don’t misunderstand me Lisa, I AM waiting for the other shoe(s) to drop too. And I am certain THEY will. But I am not waiting passively and neither should anyone else.

        Its not like I am waiting at the bus stop, bags in hand, for Jesus to come. Although, yeah, I believe He will. But I think, before He does, the SwHTF in, almost, unimaginable ways. Economic collapse is just one of those events.

        Therefore I believe that preparation should be physical, mental, emotional, psycological, and spiritual. Before the “Transformation” is over, every soul will be thoroughly challenged: birth pains for a new consciousness.

        Many won’t make it.

      10. Just so you know Lisa , I am with Z on this one as well

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