John’s Preparedness History

My long history of preparing for and surviving economic upheaval  from my book "The Frugal Prosumer Philosophy"

 John Feeding Pigeons in Japan

John Feeding Pigeons in Japan

I find very little information written from the perspective of people who over the years got hyped up about the predicted disasters or TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It). Maybe they are too embarrassed about being conned, never want to get involved in that foolishness again, found some other scam to make money on, or died as a result of the disaster that did happen. 

Some may call me gullible. At first I was, but in time I caught on. I would like to share with you from the perspective of someone who took these doom scenarios seriously, did research, made preparations, and made mistakes. By preparing for the disasters I acquired peace of mind and even came out ahead even though, for the most part, they didn’t happen as predicted. If disasters had happened, I probably wouldn't be as well off as I am now, but still would have been better off than the majority of people.

I’m going to deal with the predicted disasters that directly affected me in my short, fifty-some years. If you do any research, you will find the same scenarios since the beginning of time. The top selling book in all of history deals with “the coming disaster”. If you read the Old Testament, the prophets were often predicting bad things were going to happen and their culture was going to be destroyed. The interesting thing is that this book has withstood the test of time. Those things did happen so we can just assume that the rest will come true too. Those prophets would have fit in well with today’s media. Hey, bad news sells, so that’s what will predominate. A lot of money can be made off bad news. As a matter of fact, if you think things are bad enough, you will pay me to help you avoid it. How about that?

 High School Class picture in Taiwan

High School Class picture in Taiwan

Now there are two types of disasters I’m talking about. The end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) and the End Of The World. What I’m talking about in this book is preparing for TEOTWAWKI. Preparing for the actual End Of The World is another subject which I may deal with in later books. Hint! It’s not just sitting back and doing nothing!

No matter what kind of upheavals or disasters: storms, floods, wars, divorce, global warming or cooling, bankruptcy, corrupt government or business, etc. all have the common denominator of economic upheaval. For the astute, economic upheavals or downturns are accompanied with disguised opportunities. This is a natural part of life's ebb-and-flow. There are some people who for whatever reason haven't studied history and have taken to running around like chickens with their heads cut off. They think that what is happening today is a new thing. Ignorance is bliss, but it can cost you financially. Being prepared and understanding history is important.

We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.
— Ayn Rand

Preparedness lessons from my ancestors

As I take a look at my family tree, I can see that upheaval comes to almost everyone in their lifetime in one form or another. The following lessons I have learned from my ancestors.

The Old Johnston Homestead in Ireland

Being politically at odds with those who run the country and being oppressed by them is nothing new. This is a reason why people came to America in the past as well as now. Most likely history will repeat itself. In the 17th century my Scottish forebears escaped what they thought was oppressive British rule by moving to Northern Ireland. Maybe the reason I’m so interested in preparing for the future is because of the influence of the Johnston clan motto “Non Quam Non Paratus” (Never Unprepared.) My father hung it over the mantel and often quoted it.

Preparedness lessons gleaned from my dad’s book

My dad writes about leaving his homeland, “In June 1924 a great change took place in my life which was to have far reaching consequences. My father, at the advanced age of 65, decided to sell the ancestral farm in Ireland and emigrate to New Zealand . . . he wanted to take his family to a new country where they would have better opportunities for living than the small crowded homeland. It was a very courageous action at his age to leave his old home, friends, and relatives . . . We arrived in Auckland in July 1924. There we were met by friends who had gone to New Zealand years previously . . . We stayed with friends at Otakiri for a month or so until my father found work on a dairy farm. It was a strange experience to settle in a new land like this. Everything, including the climate, was so different to Ireland. Yet we soon accommodated ourselves to the new life among the New Zealanders.” 

Lesson: Don’t be so sure you will be able to sit back and retire at age 65. To survive you need the courage to make momentous decisions not just for yourself but also for your descendants. Too many people today think retirement is all about them, and that they have earned a huge break. But what about adopting a mindset that asks how they can use that freedom to better the world?

After spending ten years preparing for his life work and vision of working in China as a missionary, my father left New Zealand and arrived in Hong Kong just as WWII broke out.   He ended up spending the whole war as a prisoner. He preferred to say, “As a guest of the Japanese!” 

My dad writes. “It was the fateful day of December 8, 1941 . . . A policeman from the fishing village arrived and gave us the startling news that the Japanese had attacked Hong Kong by land, sea and air. He further informed us that all foreigners must prepare to leave the island and proceed to Hong Kong in about an hour. So we left our lovely cottage which contained all our earthly possessions. . . Little did we know that we would never see our possessions again, for we learned later that everything was looted shortly after we left.” 

No! He was not a soldier. Quite the opposite. He had no malice toward the Japanese, but that made no difference. They still kept him as a prisoner of war for three years and nine months of his life. “Soon Japanese troops took over and turned buildings into shambles . . . they engaged in wild rioting and looting of property.” He puts it very charitably, “Here we suffer all the rigors and privations of the typical Japanese prison camps. . . Many people suffered from nervous disorders and went to pieces under the stain and tensions of those difficult times.” He goes on to tell how malnutrition, disease, beatings, cruelty, and death were rampant and then how by building community it enabled them to survive. 

Lesson: The best laid plans of Mice and Men can go astray and nasty out-of-control things happen to us. Within an hour our whole world can change. From the idyllic island setting to years of near death survival in prison. Mental as well as physical preparation is very important. My dad told me how he saw people mentally give up and were dead the next day.

Then a horrifying turn of events happened that killed 80,000 people. The atomic bomb was dropped in Japan. This act freed my dad and hundreds of thousands more from a living hell and saved the lives of millions more. If the information I give you in this book is helping you, it is only because of the A-Bomb that I am here. My dad’s camp had been ringed with machine guns to execute him and fellow prisoners before the Japanese retreated, but the A-Bomb so disrupted everything they were not able to carry out the planned massacre. 

Lesson: In the midst of horror is also the seed of new life. The death of those people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki made my life possible. They had no choice in it, yet I must never treat that sacrifice lightly and do all I can to help make this world a better place.

 Father handing out tracks in China (1940's)

Father handing out tracks in China (1940's)

Not many years later both my mom and again my dad lost all their worldly possessions in China when the communists took over. This may be why my father never again accumulated things and never wanted to own a home. When he returned home from his world travels, I would pick him up at the airport. His possessions were in one small suitcase. Any extra baggage held gifts for his family. He came into the world with nothing and left the world with nothing. But he lived a very rich life.

Lesson: Losing all can turn out to be a blessing. Less things equal less burdens. Less burdens equal focus on quality of life, for yourself and for those around you. 

Quoted sections taken from The God-Planned Life: Memoirs and Letters of John D Johnston, 1986 World’s Light Press Co. Taipei, Taiwan