By Don W. Pectol, Emergency Preparedness Expert (ret.)

Partner, Emergency Essentials, LLC

Martin Luther King, Jr. understood how important it is for mankind to be a brotherhood and work together. I would like to take four principles from the following two quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. and apply them to emergency preparedness.

“But today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge

of change. The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world-wide neighborhood into a world–wide brotherhood. Together we must learn to live as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.” -- Where Do We Go from Here (1967)

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others.” -- Strength to Love (1963)

Principle #1—The ability to “stay awake” There is a humorous saying that goes like this: “Some people make things happen, some people watch things happen, and some wonder what happened.” There are many people today who are wondering what is happening. They are just awaking to the fact that the world is different today. There are more natural disasters and the news seems to bombard us with stories of political, social, educational, and cultural challenges. With this constant flow of information, we sometimes become desensitized to the tragedies that occur. But we need to “stay awake” and recognize that each of us must prepare for the unexpected. By becoming prepared we need not live in daily fear. Principle #2—The ability to “adjust to new ideas” The idea of preparing for an emergency is a new idea for many, in fact almost a strange one. It was only a few centuries ago that people living in an agrarian society literally lived off the land and needed to be prepared for not only each year but for each season. It is simple wisdom that we already accept in many areas in our lives already. For example, almost every car in America has a spare tire. Why? Because there is always the possibility that one of the four tires could malfunction or be damaged. If you are willing to take precautions with your car, should you not consider even more carefully the care of your own family? Principle #3—The ability to “remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change” The word vigilant means “keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.” When a person awakes to possible dangers and prepares for them he is becoming vigilant. Imagine you are going on a river rafting trip. Before doing this it is wise to gain a degree of education and even experience before heading down the rapids. By doing this you are aware of the dangers, and better able to enjoy the journey! Principle #4—The ability to “live as brothers” and to become a “true neighbor [who] will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others” In 1955 a serious flood hit my little town of Blue Lake in Northern California. I was 6 years old. I remember my father putting me on his shoulder and walking to the bank of the creek next to our home. I remember seeing the water almost ready to flow over the bank and flood our home. He then carried me to my grandparents’ home where we were sheltered and fed. This experience has since become symbolic to me. As he hefted me onto his shoulders, I saw my father putting my life above his, as if he was saying to me, “I will drown before you.” I believe that we will need to be “true neighbors” as Martin Luther King, Jr. said and be willing to “… risk [our] position, [our] prestige and even [our] life for the welfare of others.” That is the true spirit of America. We have a beautiful history of being a generous nation and of coming to the aid of others in need. I remember talking to a woman soon after the upper Mississippi River flooded in 1997. She was asked by the leader of her congregation to invite other women with food storage to bring it to their church and provide meals for those evacuated in the lower part of town. The women were happy to share their food storage to bless those in need. Their unselfish service united a town and many friendships grew from that experience. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us over and over again that we are a community of intertwined individuals. We are in need of an awakening. We must be aware of the world around us. Prepare your family now, and should an emergency arise be prepared to call everyone family.

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