The following letter comes from Helen, who lives in Greece. “William” is a reader of this blog who has spent years urging preparedness on her. She writes about the demonstrations and riots in her country and how quickly the unnatural can become the natural, the abnormal the normal.
Pundits debate endlessly about whether the U.S. economy is going to end up like or unlike Greece’s. Whichever way you bet, the future doesn’t exactly look rosy. Might as well listen to voices of experience, just as Helen listened to William’s warnings about preparedness.
I’m reprinting this with thanks to Helen, who gave her permission. I’ve done some “lite” editing for clarity and a little cleanup.
Helen writes from Greece (in an email addressed to a group of friends):
I know you worry about me, but please have faith THAT I REALLY HAVE LEARNT FROM YOU, and for the most part I do listen to you and don’t go anywhere where there is huge crowds. The other night when I went I was at the back of the crowd … and I was near lanes where I knew how to get out. I noticed the crowd starting to get restless and that’s when i took off. I was home by the time the Molotov coctails started going off.
I know nobody wants to think about this, and now I do understand William so much better when he tried telling me this kind of stuff years ago, I just didn’t want to listen to him because I mean let’s be honest, who … wants to think about these kinds of situations? I caught myself SO MANY TIMES saying, “Yeah right. This is 2010, 2011, 2012, like something like that is going to happen here.” BUT TO WILLIAM’S CREDIT, thank God he had the patience to ram this sh*t down my throat constantly because [if he hadn’t] I would be like those useless [victims] in Hurricane Sandy, demanding someone give me food, fuel, shelter etc.
Watch Greece and the things I write VERY CAREFULLY. You would be so … surprised how things change day-by-day by day-by-day. You notice it but you don’t notice it. It’s weird, your eye starts getting used to things that at any other time you would be shocked by, at the least, horrified at the most. BUT they have a way of bringing things into your life gradually. Then all of a sudden it becomes part of normal life when in reality it is SO NOT NORMAL LIFE.
It is not normal to see people eating out of garbage cans. It is not normal to see hundreds of people in the meals on wheels line.* It is not normal to see people dumping their children at orphanages [or] shelters because they don’t have the money to feed them. It is not normal to see children going to school without food. It is not normal for families to be living out on the streets. It is not normal for homes not to have electricity and water. It is NOT NORMAL to discuss among friends DAILY, how we are going to cook, or get heat or where to meet in times of things like William says above. It is not normal to discuss WHERE WE CAN FIND AND BUY A GUN. And the list goes on and on and on and on, but guess what IT HAS BECOME THE NORM HERE AND WE GO BY OUR DAILY LIVES like its ok — like its a part of life.
People’s characters in these times are truly disappointing. Its “man eats man” and the stronger one wins. Unfortunately we have become a world of ME ME ME. Whoever has a job is totally detested by the ones that don’t. The private sector hates the public sector because all these austerity measures are mainly to keep these f**kers in their f**king useless lazy jobs (see even I hate them so at times I am no better than the rest). Think civil war at some time.
But the truth of the matter is that we are a generation of butter people. Most of us know sh*t. Most of us have been brought up with all the comforts and don’t know what it means to really struggle, and to be honest there was no reason to know otherwise, because up until a few years ago, most of us made ends meet and lived a good respectable life — not rich but absolutely nothing like what it is today.
Like William said … lots of whiny people around and I hear some of the a**holes in here at the office and the ones that have left but still come by to visit and I am truly shocked by their attitude towards others. They don’t care if they step on someone else as long as they are getting money and as long as THEY ARE OK. It’s a shame that people don’t realize that as a group you can achieve much much more. But anyway that isn’t really the issue; the issue is to be ALERT — something that William points out almost daily. ALERT, ALERT, ALERT. Don’t be a sheep; don’t go with the crowd. Make your mind realize that EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Don’t be a “it will never happen here” mindset person. You have to really believe that ANYTHING GOES. When you really believe this deep down, the fear factor fades, which in turn makes you think faster and smarter in times of need.
Having William ram this into my head for so long now was the best thing that he ever did, because I now find myself thinking so much differently. I think quicker; I think more common sense. You would be surprised in a split second how many thoughts, ideas, dangers, go through my head. My mind works like some kind of data bank now. The reason for this is because of practice, so many years with William taught me to think of EVERYTHING on the spot.
Example: When I went to the protest the other night, firstly I didn’t go in my high heels and skirt. Because I decided to go, I was dressed accordingly. I had runners on, I had my little gas mask in my bag, a whistle, water. I made sure my telephone was charged. I notified Mikis exactly where I was and [arranged that] if he couldn’t get in touch with me we would meet at a particular location. I stayed at the back of the crowd. I noted my exact surroundings and had a way out paved in my head should I need to run. While I was there I kept alert to changes in the crowd and to the movements of the police, should I notice something [that would warn me] to leave.
Believe it or not all this took longer to write than to actually do; it is now a second nature. The reason I did leave the protest was because I suddenly saw the special forces start moving slowly towards the crowd and I saw some of them starting to take out their little chemical bombs. But it was all so subtle because they were behind the crowd and no one noticed but [me] because I was behind the crowd and had them in full vision. I saw it, so I left and 10 minutes later, lo and behold, the supposingly anarchists (insert the polices themselves) started the riots. I cannot stress enough to be ALERT AND TO THINK CLEVER AND [CONSIDER] ALL OPTIONS. It is so so hard to write what is actually happening.
To close off this post, which you will realize a bit about what I mean, IT IS SO NOT … NORMAL TO BE WRITING A POST LIKE THIS. But guess what? I am. And guess what? You are reading this and thinking its normal and part of life but it isn’t, is it??
Note from Claire: It may be even more abnormal when the food lines exist but you can’t even see them.