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Over the course of the last few months, I have given a lot of thought to the role of our more seasoned citizens as harbingers of the prepper movement. Since I am very much a baby boomer, I throw myself into that lot. As far as I am concerned, boomers are smart, funny, active, resourceful, and, for the most part, experts in perseverance.
Many of us are also MSH people, a term coined by my pal George Ure back in the early seventies. What does MSH mean? Make “stuff” happen!
As easy as it is to praise my own generation, I find it trendy to disparage the younger generation, commonly referred to as Millennials. Why is that? I know some pretty awesome young adults that are as responsible and as caring about the world as I am. They prep as well; perhaps not to the extent we do, but as much as they can given their budgets and the time to learn old-time pioneer-style skills.
More over, they care about the planet, our country, and global politics. It scares them as much as it scares us.
It is almost spooky to learn that my colleague Richard Broome has had recent thoughts along those very same line. A couple of weeks ago, he shared his latest think piece with me and I do have to say, he is correct in his description of “quiet leadership at work”.
Quiet Leadership At Work
Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
– Inaugural Address by President John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961
Except for my brief comments about the ISIS attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015 I have been out of communication with the readers of Backdoor Survival since late last summer. But with Paris, no matter how busy I felt I was, I simply had to weigh in with my personal thoughts. I felt it was my responsibility. The events in Paris were so horrific to me and so clearly signaled a prognostication of what was to come, that I felt compelled to speak out. The night of that event I wrote the following for Backdoor Survival.
“The events in Paris Friday evening were a dark day in “The City of Light.” Terrorism became more real yesterday. In time, we will all look back at what we will ultimately realize was an epic event that should have sent us all a clear message. “I am coming to get you. This isn’t going away. It is coming to America too.” We have a rising tide of global jihadist aggression underway and I think most people are missing the religious fervor behind this movement and the terrorists’ willingness to do anything it takes to win.
Here is where strong leadership in this country is really going to matter. In a time of coming elections, we need leaders who do a better job of telling all Americans what we really stand for, the values and meaning of America, the special sauce that makes up our country, and the need for our national commitment to defeat ISIS.
Can we turn this around? Yes. We can.
Richard Earl Broome
We have had, since that day, even more horror, San Bernardino in December and then Brussels in March. All very frightening and sobering and yet…I am afraid even much more and much worse will come (if you can even conceive of that possibility).
As many of you already know, I teach at a university. When I teach, my students always receive my full attention, so my article writing is put to the side during most of the year. But now, with the semester almost over, I find I have a weekend, well temporarily anyway, where I am not looking at a stack of papers to grade. As I write this article on this really nice spring Sunday afternoon in Montana, I know my student’s are busy writing their final papers and projects for me.
Their final class assignments will all arrive in the next few days and be placed into my hands with a frantic, nervous rush. Thus…even more stacks of papers are being created and looming out there for me to grade to finish the spring semester at Montana State University. But… this is what is expected of me and I do joyfully embrace my responsibilities to teach this millennial generation. (Even if I have to grade all day long on nice sunny spring days in Montana for the next two weekends.)
Like many of you, I was raised in a home where hard work was deemed a virtue and indulging yourself by feeling a little lazy and just pleasantly doing nothing much, even on slow Sunday afternoon, always resulted in my mother or father finding something constructive for me to do. Even at my advanced age, I now find I just can’t seem to get past that feeling from my youth, the guilt I am not doing something worthwhile even when I am finished with my daily tasks. So now I do a bit of writing when the decks clear some. (Actually, just between us, I probably should be helping get the lawn ready for summer this afternoon. Hmmm, guilt rearing its head again. No. I really do want to write this think piece today.)
One of the courses I am teaching at Montana State University is in the Honors College. It has the title “Critical Perspective on Leadership in the 21st Century.” We cover many serious issues ranging from the impact on leadership in the age of the Internet, blogs and a non-stop 24X7 news cycle (I was able to have both the governor of Montana and his opponent for the fall election come and speak to the class), to the approaching takeover by the millennial generation. It is a seminar course that covers the many, many leadership challenges that face all of us.
This spring semester I made the following a writing assignment for these honors students. I wanted them to demonstrate to me some critical thinking skills, in short, not to just memorize and simply repeat back to me what others think about leadership, but express some original thoughts of their own.
I asked them to answer this question.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.” — Lao-Tzu, Chinese philosopher, 6th Century BC.
This 8000-thousand-year old quote is one of the more famous ones found in the writings of Lao-Tzu, a Chinese philosopher and the founder of Taoism.
1) What do you think he meant by this quote? What style of leadership do you think he was suggesting? Support your argument.
2) Given the multilevel complexities of our current global society, such as religious wars, asymmetric threats to the citizens of all nations, economic uncertainties and the wide spread use of social media with near instant global communications:
a) Is this style of leadership still possible, or even rational to use? If you could, what would you tell Lao-Tzu about the demands on global leaders today and the leadership style they must use in 2016?
b) Or…is the leadership style Lao-Tzu suggests still the most effective?
The papers about this question were simply extraordinary. Wow! What thoughtful papers.
My students wrote very contemplative essays that reflected deep thinking. Interestingly, while I expected to read a general opinion that “quiet leadership” (such as Lao-Tzu suggested) could no longer really work well; many students embraced it as the better way to lead people. The students convinced me they were already, informally trying to deal with what they see in the world today.
And…they made an interesting argument.
I have no idea what the demographics are of the readers of Backdoor Survival, but I suspect they could involve some gray hair, facial wrinkles and a little less skill with computers and the Internet than we would all like to admit. (Just saying and me too.)
The emerging millennial generation is much different. Here is an example. I will text on my cellphone perhaps once or twice a day. Generally, my messages are like, “Do I need to pick up something on the way home, milk?” My students laughed when I told them this. They text forty to fifty times a day and share opinions, views, discuss global events and come together more than you would think to face the new realities of the world. I have discovered there is a silent discussion going on and quiet leadership at work by the millennial generation, trying to direct and shape the issues and events they see.
My students revealed that the very power and impact of the Internet, blogs and 24X7 news cycles has resulted in a conversation, that most of older generations do not realize is going on. Opinions are being shaped and desired changes being discussed on-line. You and I see the loud, glaring cacophony we have to endure each day from the public news media. What the students see is a quiet, reasoned discussion occurring in the background.
Which brings me to the prepper movement. The verse from John 9:25 comes to mind, and to paraphrase, “I was blind, but now I can see.” With all of the discordant sounds, the tragic events and the general fury we find all around us these days, I’ve found hope from working with the millennial generation. I think we will be in good hands in the future, if we can work with them effectively.
I have published on Backdoor Survival several think pieces about how we need to do more to create a national, public conversation and to build more of a culture of preparedness movement. I now wonder if my strategy is wrong. What we may need to do is to better understand this emerging generation of leaders and how they communicate and effect change. Then, work to get them more involved with us. They are in the same leaky boat we are. Moreover, year-by-year they will be slowly rising up to take over more and more positions of responsibility in our society.
How do we go about connecting millennials with older preppers? It would seem to me a serious, important goal for us, which frankly, I am just beginning to think about. Many of us have children and grandchildren who are millennials. Don’t we want them all prepared? Yes I think we do and, if they are willing, eventually to accept “the torch” as we pass it to them.
What do the other readers of Backdoor Survival think?
By Richard Earl Broome; April 17, 2016. Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.
Richard Earl Broome is a contributing author and friend to Backdoor Survival. He has lived an extraordinary life rising from an Army private to an Army colonel who served on the White House staff for two Presidents of the United States as a member of their National Security Council staff.
He is considered a national expert on the subjects of preparedness, disaster recovery and survival. He is a frequent contributor of articles about the many threats facing our society, appearing frequently on shows to discuss issues such as pandemics, ISIS, and the cyber threat and how we need to meet the new threat realities facing all of us.
Now living in a small community in Montana, he is a member of the editorial board of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and also a member of the adjunct faculty at Montana State University where he teaches courses about leadership and strategy. For more about Richard, visit my About Richard page.
Also, note that his two books, Leaving The Trees and Good Crazy (Leaving The Trees Journey) (Volume 2). His next novel, Due Reckoning, will be out in the fall of 2016.
The Final Word
How do we go about connecting millennials with older preppers? Indeed, that is the question. We can do so within our family units but sometimes that will backfire. Since the beginning of time, children have run in the opposite direction as their parents. Just because.
On the other hand, rather than preach the prepping gospel, we can present them with problems and ask for a solution. Be open minded and remember that millennials have not been spoiled (yet) by the inevitable failures that happen in life. They are fresh and they see things in new ways. They do care and they do want to make a difference. Their solutions to our prepping dilemmas may surprise you in their awesomeness.
In closing, I just want to say this. Regardless of your age and season of life, let us tip our hats to the next generation. They need our support and not our disdain. They are the leaders of the tomorrow we are working so hard to preserve.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Below you will find some basic preps that I own and that I think you will find useful.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: FREE SHIPPING! The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultralight personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2 oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.
Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: This light is awesome. I use mine downstairs as well as on my stairway and when I get up in the middle of the night, they come on automatically. They are quite unobtrusive and give off a ton of light. Runs for a year on 3 D size batteries. As of this writing, is with free Prime Shipping.
UltraFire Mini Cree LED Flashlight: I personally keep flashlights in every single room of my house and you should too. Consider ordering a dozen of these Mini-Crees. You will have enough flashlights to stash everywhere including extras for nightstand drawers, desk drawers, and just about every place else you an think of.
At the time of this writing, these flashlights are with free shipping. These favorites are super mini sized, bright and waterproof. Plus, they use a single, standard AA sized battery.
10 Inch Premium Glow Sticks – Assorted: These glow sticks are fantastic! Each stick glows for 8-12 hours, and comes with a pre-attached hook and lanyard. They are well priced and hold up well when packed around in a pocket or handbag. For more information about glow sticks and chemical lighting, read 10 Reasons to Add Glow Sticks to Your Survival Kit.
Paracord Planet Mil-Spec Commercial Grade 550lb Type III Nylon Paracord: An ideal all-around utility cord in the field, paracord is tough and long lasting. It is made from 550-pound test nylon and features a seven strand core for maximum strength. Also, it is manufactured in the United States. Note that some colors may be more expensive than others. Need ideas? See 44 Really Cool Uses of Paracord for Survival.
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (Pack of 10): I do believe in helping my neighbors in the community so a supply of these will be handy to hand out to those in need. You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. Be sure to test one out in advance so that you have the confidence to trust the blanket in an emergency.