While the title of this article The Idolatry of Self-Reliance may seem counter-intuitive and paradoxical, since I am in an educator for emergency and disaster preparedness and survival, I am confident that by the time you finish reading you will understand what I am professing. You are encouraged to read the entire article. As an introduction, I believe it is important to know a little about my background and perspective so you’ll understand the basis for my insights.
- 50 years ago – in 1965 – I began my military service in the Army. I was a combat arms Artillery officer. I spent my first year of service in intensive training.
- My first introduction to prophesy, religious beliefs, esoteric opinion, logic and critical thinking was in 1969 while majoring in philosophy at San Diego State.
- In 1975 was the beginning of my involvement with emergency preparedness and the development of these skills, both personally and as a retail business.
- I have a Master’s Degree and the rather academic title of my thesis is Christian Eschatology, Premillennialism and Apocalypticism in Contemporary American Culture that was written in 2004.
- I have taught Critical Thinking and Ethics at our local college.
- I have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.
- I was raised Jewish, had a Bar Mitzvah at 13 and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1984 – this means I am a Messianic Jew, who has studied the old and new Testaments carefully and with reverence.
- I feel spiritually lead to be engaged during these transformative and volatile times in the process of educating, encouraging and motivating all who are serious and responsive to be prepared for the potential scenarios of these unstable periods. I feel a personal – for my family, and a social – for our community, responsibility to share my 40 years’ experience and educate all who are receptive.
I presented this brief outline so you will better understand where I am coming from when I discuss this critical subject. As important as I believe this issue is, I don’t see the topic of reliance and attitude presented quite like you will discover in this article.
Let me be clear about the importance of being prepared in an emergency. I completely support and encourage everyone to be ready and prepared in the event of a disaster, emergency, catastrophe, or any situation that threatens one’s safety and security to survive with the least amount of trauma and injury possible. We must take responsibility for ourselves and loved ones to be a leader and provider during troubling events. We cannot presume that the government, agencies or others will be available during emergencies, and it might be the government itself that causes the very disaster we may experience. I have written many articles on this blog that emphasizes these points.
So why is Self-Reliance idolatry?
It is the worship of the “stuff” of self-reliance and the worship of “self” as the primary focus of the actions taken. We have placed our stuff and ourselves as the object of primary worship and reliance. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the ultimate reliance is on God. While we have a duty to be prepared, we are commanded not to idolize and exalt our provisions and personal position in the preparedness process above absolute reliance on God. During a serious disaster when emotions are intense and fear rules one’s reactions, it is a challenge to rely on a higher power for the supreme guidance and insight on the actions to take. It is not only a challenge, it is a necessity to rely on the greatest ally you can have – Divine guidance. Where does your faith reside – in the Divine or in the human condition?
While I recommend and encourage taking effective physical action to provide the essential provisions, I have been explicit in my teachings that one’s attitude is essential in overcoming and surviving a serious catastrophe. This requires embodying the attitude of God-Reliance first – follow His instructions, assurance and power before we rely only on our self. Self-reliance without God-reliance is what I refer to as “The Idolatry of Self-Reliance.”
I am well aware of the difficulty and struggle involved in understanding, expressing and putting into action the balance between reliance on God and reliance on ourselves – both are essential! This requires prayer, serious reflection, critical thinking and common sense – as does all aspects of effective emergency planning.
Our whole upbringing in our current society and culture has conditioned us to what is known as “ego-centrism.” When our worldview is always filtered through our own self-centered interests, conditioning and survival, then for many letting go and trusting unseen Divinity becomes incomprehensible. For those who have a committed spiritual or religious worldview it is still difficult to truly recognize and realize the vise grip that our ego-centric thinking has on our perceptions, evaluations and actions. Here is the first paragraph of a quote from, Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools, Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder, that I included in my article Barriers to Critical Thinking:
The Problem of Egocentric Thinking
Egocentric thinking results from the unfortunate fact that humans do not naturally consider the rights and needs of others. We do not naturally appreciate the point of view of others nor the limitations in our own point of view. We become explicitly aware or our egocentric thinking only if trained to do so. We do not naturally recognize our egocentric assumptions, the egocentric way we use information, the egocentric way we interpret data, the source of our egocentric concepts and ideas, the implications of our egocentric thought. We do not naturally recognize our self-serving perspective.
Reflections on Contemporary Preparedness Issues
When I first became involved in the preparedness industry my focus was directed in what we called “family preparedness.” The scenarios basically involved natural disasters, personal emergencies or perhaps financial events. Those drawn to preparedness were primarily main stream individuals and families. Many had a religious foundation from which to draw. With the advent of the internet, 9/11, the need for sensationalist media reporting and movies, terrorism, fear, government agendas, the zombie apocalypse, talk of revolution and dozens of horrific and catastrophic potential scenarios, the preparedness industry and the “prepper” community has morphed into a different animal.
The preparedness environment is now polarized between family/household and survivalist, with both groups aware of the serious issues of the day, and the survivalist reaction much more radical, passionate, militaristic and fear based – the survivalist community has plenty of probable scenarios from which to choose. I make no right or wrong judgment regarding this situation, I am just sharing what I observe. It is for my readers to evaluate.
Also consider that the cable and main stream news programs and certain internet news sites need ratings and/or are part of an insidious government agenda to keep crisis and fear constantly on your mind for some possible future shenanigans. Which programs, sites and their celebrity status hosts are sincerely sharing important factual information, suggestions and encouragement, and which are part of the deception and insidious agenda? How many news and product websites do you think that are promoting the fear-provoking aspects of preparedness and emphasize the doomsday scenarios are primarily driven by the profit motive? Oh the necessity for critical thinking and discernment skills!
There are now hundreds probably thousands of preparedness/survival websites, blogs and newsletters. Virtually every conservative talk show host promotes survival foods and products. Most talk show hosts have no idea what they are promoting and are justifying themselves for the advertising dollars, doomsday TV shows make big advertising money by instilling fear and mindless buying, and most of the websites and blogs are run by instant experts with little or no knowledge and experience with the information and products they sell. Of course there are many legitimate product and information sources – how can a customer or researcher discern the truth from the deception?
The preparedness/survival atmosphere of fear, chaos, anarchy and confusion is unprecedented in my 40 years in this marketplace. Because of the total lack of government, media, big corporations and educational leadership, the self-serving delusions and the insanity of those in control, there is plenty of evidence to support the serious problems facing our society. As I examine various websites I am disturbed by the excessive emphasis and focus on military, hard core survival, end of the world as we know it, suffering, potential death, preparing for bondage, war, pandemics and the list goes on and on. Of course virtually all of this sites emphasize the “stuff” you need to survive and the extreme practices you should master to fend off the enemy. This stuff is sometimes valuable and appropriate, however – be it food or other supplies – much of the stuff is junk, cheap and ineffective. I ask again – how can a customer or researcher discern the truth from the deception?
I have viewed and evaluated thousands of articles, videos and presentations in the last 40 years – I am not naïve about the serious potential scenarios that may very well come to pass – and be advised I am not a psychic or do I channel some spirit from the other side. All of the predictions, concerns and theories about what may soon occur could very well happen, and maybe you will need some of the stuff that appears radical and maybe you should prepare for a dramatically altered lifestyle and mindless zombies coming after you.
For those with discernment skills, a desire for the truth, an accurate perception of reality and an attitude of true Godly reliance for guidance, the coming times will place you in a position of leadership and service. My concern however, is with the effects on our population of a constant barrage of negative, fearful, mindless nonsense – from media, “progressive” colleges, government and special interest groups. These people are our neighbors, family, those who we all have to come into contact with daily and those who vote.
My advice and counsel to all that read this post, and why I presented the material I did, relates directly to the title of this article. If severe and life-threatening events do occur, where will your ultimate trust and reliance rest?
So What Do I Think is Happening and Going to Happen?
- The underlying reasons for many events of our time cannot be understood by reason and logic, because what we are engaged in is “spiritual” warfare. And spiritual warfare requires spiritual/Biblical solutions and responses. Read Ephesians 6 in the New Testament.
- We live in an unprecedented time of lying, deception and self-serving by those who are in positions of authority and control.
- The domestic and global condition of negativity, confusion, evil, delusion cannot continue without serious implications and the creation of a world of great repression, suffering and loss of freedom. For those of our population who have been programmed and indoctrinated and unfortunately are delusional, no degree of reason, common sense, facts or intelligence will change their worldview and perception of current events.
- We have entered a time of great transition. This is my assessment and that of many diverse spiritual, religious, Native American, intuitives, prophets, interpreters of ancient prophesy and others – and I as they, believe good will triumph over evil, however we must first go through a very difficult and challenging period of incomprehensible trials, adversity and tribulation. The length of this transition is to be determined – keep tuned in. I do not believe what is referred to as “The Rapture” will occur at this point in history – it’s for the future.
- We have the choice to find meaning and purpose, positively contribute and encourage others during these times by adopting an attitude of faith, hope and love in the midst of darkness and uncertainty.
From Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl was a doctor, teacher and philosopher who lost his entire family, and was the survivor of four Nazi concentration camps.
Will to Meaning: Our inherent capacity to continually search for meaning under all circumstances.
Self-Transcendence and the Will to Meaning: I can see beyond the misery of the situation to the potential for discovering a meaning behind it, and thus turn an apparently meaningless suffering into a genuine human achievement. I am convinced that, in the final analysis, there is no situation that does not contain within it the seed of a meaning.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
Psalm 46:1-3 NKJV