Creating a Culture of Self-Reliance

Updated: Mar 11


A successful self-reliance program is all about creating a mindset, making preparing something the family does without even thinking about it. A family culture. Family culture is the combination of a family’s habits, traditions, goals, values, beliefs, and choices. Your family may have a family culture of service. When any family member hears of someone in need they automatically start thinking of ways to help. Our goal here at Totally Ready is to help families create a self-reliance culture in their homes. Together we can do it!


Why do we want to build a culture of self-reliance?


  • Natural disasters, accidents, health challenges or job loss happen to everyone. While you can’t avoid them completely by practicing preparedness you can navigate the challenges more successfully.

  • Preparing now saves money later. During a disaster supply chains are interrupted and supplies can greatly increase in price, if you can find them. This is true of everything from food to generators, and any other item needed to care for your family’s needs.

  • Teaches family members to set goals and understand the difference between needs and wants.

  • Increases respect for each other as children become part of the planning and execution. Children come to understand their opinion is of value and their role is important.

  • When a person has thought through a scenario they will act more quickly to control their situation during the time of stress. They will not only survive but thrive because they have developed resourcefulness through their study.

  • Brings comfort and creates a feeling of safety now. As children hear about disasters in other places they know they need not fear because their family is ready if that disaster should affect them.


Several years ago we took our family to see Horton Hears a Who. Truthfully, I was not looking forward to it as so many of the Dr. Seuss books have been ruined by the Big Screen. However, I could not stop thinking about it for days afterward.


Horton is happily playing in his own world when all of a sudden he thinks he hears a call for help. Again, he hears someone calling out. It is a faint, small voice. Those in his world repeatedly say to him, "If you can't see it or hear it or touch it, it doesn't exist. So don’t talk about it, or people will think you are crazy." But Horton is not deterred. Even when his best friend fails to believe him, he stands by what he heard, and won't – no, he can’t deny it.

Horton finally makes contact with the small voice, who is the mayor of the tiny town of Whoville, a community of people who live on a small speck of dust, that has been tossed into the atmosphere and is now unprotected. Horton must help them! The mayor realizes the people in Whoville are in grave danger and he warns them to prepare and seek shelter. The city counsel, like the citizens of Whoville, cannot see the danger, and tell the people "Nothing bad has ever happened in Whoville, and nothing bad ever will."


In the end there is a disaster that could have destroyed Whoville. Horton stuck with it and helped even when everyone around him failed to believe. The mayor warned even when those around him laughed.


I remember writing an article in which I recounted my memory of living thru a hurricane in New Jersey. A reader commented that hurricanes don’t happen in New Jersey. I thought about him during hurricane Sandy. Another reader commented that I should move to Arizona because there are no natural disaster there. Since then there have been massive wildfires, destructive dust storms and in 2020 144 days over 100 degrees F. "Nothing bad ever happens here and nothing bad ever will.” Really?


Lt. General Russel L. Honoré (Retired) who was the 33rd commanding general of the U.S. First Army and commander of Joint Task Force Katrina said:


"Each of us has a personal responsibility to be ready. We need to prepare our families and our homes. In many cases, family and personal preparations can be fairly simple. All it takes is a shift in our thinking."


“In this new normal, we have only two options: We can exist in a culture of fear and dependency, or we can do the responsible thing: Live comfortably in a culture of preparedness and readiness; a culture where individuals can save themselves and empower their local, regional and national governments to better respond to any disaster. It's time for America to adopt this culture of preparedness."


We, however, want more than just a culture of preparedness - we are striving for a culture of self-reliance. What is the difference? Preparedness: State of being ready, possession of adequate resources. Self reliance: Reliance on one’s own resources, decisions and abilities. While the prepared person may have the goods they will need to survive an emergency, the self-reliant individual has in addition the capabilities, judgment, and resourcefulness to manage their own affairs, independently.


How can we create a culture of self-reliance within our homes? A yearning for independence in temporal matters must become a constant in our homes. It must become second nature in everyday living. As with a diet, we cannot starve for a short time, lose a little weight and then assume we are done. Self-reliance needs to be a change in our lifestyle in the same way weight loss requires a change in lifestyle. It means not just a change in our habits but a change in the very way we think.


Over the next few weeks and months we will examine activities and other steps to help create a family centered on self-reliance.


Step One: As a family begin by determining which emergencies and challenges may affect your family. Could there be a flood, house fire, burglary, hurricane, earthquake, wildfire, chemical spill, terrorist incident, tornado, civil unrest, or dust storm? At dinner address at least one of these. This should be easier now that we have experienced a pandemic. Our families understand there may be things out of our control that cause big changes for our family. Explain the things you had during the pandemic that you were grateful you had prepared. Discuss the things you did not have or could not easily get and help your family understand you want to be even more prepared next time a challenge arrives. Too often we want to protect our children from these crisis events but that is a huge mistake. Children sense when parents are stressed and they become more insecure if they are left wondering.

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