Preparing for the Ugly Side of Human Nature

Photo c/o evaxebra Photo c/o evaxebra

Who would have ever thought that one could discover the ugly side of human behavior in the meat department of the local grocery store?

This past weekend I went to a local store to snag a great deal on ground beef—only 78 cents a pound. It was a one day sale and clearly I wasn’t the only one who saw the ad. There was a line of customers winding from the back of the store nearly to the front. Unfortunately, the ground beef was no

longer in the case. Instead folks had to wait for it to be ground up, wrapped, and then handed to the next person in line. (Fortunately, at least I got there before the line became that long and only had to wait about 10 minutes with about 4 other people in front of me.)


It was interesting and enlightening to wait in this line. I could feel so much tension in the air as folks watched the ground beef get handed out—wanting to make sure that no one cut in front of them in the line, making sure that no one else got more than two packs as the ad had stated, and overall, just making sure they got their meat. To be honest, I tried to lighten the dreadful mood around me by making conversation. But out the of the 4 people in front of me and 3 people behind me, I could only get one person to engage in a kind conversation. The rest of the people responded in desperate, paranoid grunts—no kidding. I caught myself wondering if this might not be a lot like what people go through in Russia as they wait in the bread lines. Grumpy. Paranoid. Anti-social. I couldn’t believe that I was witnessing how people were reacting to 20 pounds of ground beef—something so temporary. Here’s the kicker. I live in and area that is often referred to as “Happy Valley.” :)


Photo c/o ABC News Photo c/o ABC News

I have no idea what was he background of these people or what caused them to wait for their purchase with emotions charged in such a way. Were they on welfare? Did they have children starving at home? We’re they ravenous carnivores? Or were they just crazy about a good deal like me? But then the epiphany hit me. If this is how folks act over 20 pounds of beef in a time of peace and comfort, what can I expect when times really get tough? What about when there’s a financial collapse, a mandatory quarantine, or an EMP attack? I’m sure we’ve all seen the horror stories of the actual violence that occurs during “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving sales. Isn’t it just a bit ironic that when people are shopping for Christmas gifts they bring out the worst in each other? People getting trampled. Fights breaking out over the newest electronic toy. So don’t you think that an ugly side of human behavior will manifest itself in the midst of even a mild crisis such as a hurricane or tornado threat?


What I’m trying to get to, my dear reader, is that we really need to wake up to the reality of the ugly side of human nature. Because when things REALLY do get rough, you’ll see a side of some people that you never dreamed existed. We’ve all seen the footage of the violent looting that took place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While a great deal of society attempts to hunker down and pull together in the midst of a crisis, such an event still also stirs up the worst in some people--too many. There is a sense of power and dominion that is enticing to some individuals and they refuse to resist such an urge when they see vulnerable, frightened faces. The smell of fear is an aphrodisiac to them. And they permit themselves to do whatever it takes to maintain this “high.” They prey on the vulnerable much like a wolf preys on a wounded animal. It’s also important to understand that because of the underlying nature of the panic, desperation, and lust for power over a vulnerable situation, such individuals quickly become a “pack.” I’m not an expert on “misery loves company” but I am quite learned in matters of how “fear loves company, and usually gets it.” So what does this have to do with you?


Please don’t be naïve. The ugly side of human nature will come out just as assuredly as Madonna is NOT a virgin. Looting will take place. People will be angry that somehow they weren’t better warned. They will be looking for others to blame. They will be desperate to find a way to resolve their vulnerable state. Abuses on fellow human beings will occur. And yet there will be no legal referees on hand to take care of such matters in the midst of a crisis. Your only SURE defense is to be prepared--be prepared to avoid or concur for the ugly side of human behavior. How?


First of all, mentally prepare yourself for an emergency so that you don’t become one of those people. You do that by becoming educated, thus aware and ready for the reality of the ugly side of a crisis. You can never underestimate the power you give yourself when you allow your mind to mentally rehearse emergency scenarios. Do so again and again with the knowledge you build through your education on emergency preparedness.


China Gas Shortages photo c/o AP Photo China Gas Shortages photo c/o AP Photo

Secondly, physically prepare yourself with the proper supplies now so that you have no reason to appear vulnerable and you don’t become the catalyst of a crazed, loot-grabbing gang. Understand that your food storage isn’t just about feeding those around you. It’s about ensuring mental and spiritual strength when you will need it most as well. Your preparedness supplies will be your Mane of Sampson in the time of a real emergency. Remember, ultimately you do not want to HAVE to go to a store when you get warning of a looming crisis. A store or a gas station is the LAST place you should be. Heck, you might as well be standing at the top of a hill in an open field during a lightening storm rather than you plan on being at a store amidst a crisis. Remember, I keep warning you. Running to the store to get what you need is NOT an emergency preparedness plan. It’s a panicked reaction. Think about it. Where will all of the crazy, panicked people flock to in an emergency? That’s right. The store. If you go, it will indeed be like charging the shores of Normandy, folks. And I don’t say that lightly.


And lastly, prepare yourself with the proper self-defense tools to ensure that the wrong choices of others don’t inflict pain–or even death—on the rights of you and your family. Only the cooler heads will survive a disaster. The panicked, desperate souls will only make life more frightening for those around them in an uncertain time. In the event of a crisis, you need to think of your home as the safest place to be—your sanctuary essentially, and prepare it to stay that way in spite of the actions of others.

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I remember seeing a picture taken somewhere in the Middle East, I think, that showed a rush on a grocery store. I remember most the small child smashed up against the window glass, and the wild look on the face of one of the older women...haunting, really, and who knows how long they waited for the doors to open?
What is your opinion on location when things get rough? If you have a place out in the country, do you think you will be more of a target than if you are in the average subdivision?
Thought-provoking post.

Actually yes, I do think that the country or outer suburbs will be better for safety. But regardless of where you live, preparedness should be a priority.
Glad you liked the post.

In a long term disaster, the country may not be any better than the city. FerFAL over at the "Surviving in Argentina" blog has written that in times of long-term lawlessness, such as Argentina in this decade, criminals view a country retreat as a place where they can take all the time they want to commit their crimes because there is no one there to hear you scream. Owners of country residences are often tortured, raped and murdered in addition to merely being robbed. There is something to be said for safety in numbers.

And Kellene - I'd bet you dollars to donuts that the people in line figured that you were cracking jokes and trying to ease tension because they thought you'd be the one to try to cajole your way to the front of the line. Not that you would, but I bet that's what they were thinking...

Let's look at the country and outer suburbs strategically--which is how I always look at my living quarters. Which am I better able to defend? I can definitely defend an outer dwelling much better in a subdivision or country setting. I have ground to hide under, fencing I can set up, I can see them coming from a long ways off, etc. In the city, it's not as easy to defend a home. I'm pretty much stuck with looking out a window or off my rooftop. A Molotov cocktail can take me out in a minute. Whereas in the country or outer suburb, they wont' even get close enough to launch a Molotov cocktail before my rifle meets up with them. Yes, criminals may feel like there's more for the picking in a country setting, but they will have a rude awakening from those who are prepared. Safety in numbers is also a fallacy if it's a quarantine situation. All it is doing is spreading the death that much faster. And large numbers of people aren't strategic, thus they are not the best defense. I don't mind a lot of mouths to feed so long as they are RIGHT, strategic mouths to feed.
You're probably so right about the thoughts of those in the food line... *sigh*

I had to look up the Malatov cocktail to know what is was. Not very encouraging . But as I don't have a country place I'll just have to arm up as much as possible for city defense :-)

Another excellent article to helping us all prepare mentally, step by step! Reading your essays always fill me with confidence and more determination!

One more thought. Remember that criminals are lazy by nature. They are creatures of prey, not predaotrs usually. Let's assume that they actually could travel in the midst of a real crisis. As such, what makes more sense, that 200 of them would attempt to take the spoils of a handful of homes or that they would pick off thousands of homes in the city? Clearly the country setting is not their preference. This is not said to worry city dwellers, because as I said before, they are lazy. With prepared resistance, they will indeed go on to easier pickings.

That's kind of funny. I should have defined that one.
Glad it's helping you step by step!

I looked it up too. That would not be fun:(


I've given this some thought as well. I've seen some pretty ugly situations develop in Disneyland, of all places!

You're right. The first step is to avoid being in potentially dangerous situations in the first place, and much of that can be avoided via advance preparations.

The good thing is that human nature is generally predictable, and that helps us plan for various contingencies.

Thanks for another great article!


The old saying is that no country in the world is more than 3 meals away from a revolution. We have seen crowds turn ugly after their team WON a sporting event so that gives us an indication of what people will do when food, water and shelter are involved!

As a Buckeye, I am PAINFULLY aware with that phenomenon, Sam. *wink*

Excellent observations in your post. Good comments, too. In one of Ron Hood's urban survival DVD's, he recommends being with the crowd for safety when you're traveling in the city. (He was in Eastern Europe, as I recall, when making the DVD.) I suppose that's so no one will mug you in an alley. Similarly, if you live in the country, yes, beware of the pitfalls of isolation; but be well prepared for self defense. It's best to be familiar with your surroundings wherever you live.

You're a jewel, Keleene...

People have forgotten the

People have forgotten the aftermath in NY and NJ after Sandy? Couldn't buy gasoline without a several hour (that was short) wait. People were at each others throats when someone else was perceived to be cutting in line. It was bad , real bad.

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