Ms. S’ Bug Out Bag

Ms. S is a public school teacher and her Bug Out Bag was given to her by the PTSA. She is required to carry her bag during evacuation drills. It contains emergency plans and a roster of her students, water, food, a flashlight, goggles, and emergency poncho and blanket, gloves, and tape. After a bomb scare evacuation Ms. S supplemented her bag with sunscreen, sunglasses, wet ones, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and granola bars.

“Bug Out Bag dissolves the space between us and them, it addresses the flux between the individual and the collective, and it presages massive events that may unite or divide us. We needn’t wait to find out though. We can start the work of existing together now. Surviving catastrophe is about food caches and back-up generator power, but it is more about people power. Your survival depends less on what is in your bag and more on what is in your heart.” -Pete Brook

Bug Out Bag:  The Commodification of American Fear

Hurricanes.  Earthquakes.  Superstorms.  War.  Martial Law.  The Rapture.  The Zombie Apocalypse.

Bug Out Bags are manifestations of the fears and obsessions of the 21st Century self-reliant American.  The Bug Out Bag is the most basic piece of gear for disaster preparedness and it contains the essentials needed to sustain life for 72 hours, or to possibly begin a new civilization.  Each bag becomes a portrait of its owner, showing us their fears in the face of environmental and political change.  Most preppers  are community minded but some are fiercely independent.   Independence is a fundamental principle when describing the American character.  We praise the self reliant man and credit him for the shining city upon the hill, but Twenty-first Century capitalism has changed Americans and our fears are running rampant.  The new self-reliant American no longer experiences transcendence in nature as Thoreau once did, but instead, escapes to nature in an effort to hoard and protect property.  Prepping has become a capitalist enterprise, banking on our fears and desires for stability.

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