Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Any Amy. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

During this past summer the uneasy knots in my stomach kept growing and ultimately transformed into what felt like a massive “nesting” urge, which led to my plunge into prepping. I’m way behind most of you, but I’ve been gaining significant ground each week. I do have some advantages, like being a health professional and having grown up as a tomboy, but I’ve still got a long road ahead before I can reach at least my baseline comfort zone.

I’ve been reading myriad articles posted on various prepper sites, both extremist and more middle-of-the-road sites, for the lack of better terms. Unfortunately, one common theme appears to prevail – the philosophy that preppers should under no circumstances help the unprepared, who in essence deserve to be punished for their lavish lifestyles and lack of foresight. I do understand many of the reasons behind this belief as well as the very real and purported risks associated with not following it. But I don’t believe it has to be an all or nothing proposition. Consider this – what if, during said SHTF catastrophe, all of your preps were destroyed and you were left with nothing? Or what if it was your elderly grandmother who needed assistance in another town; would you still agree with her prepper neighbor who chose, when she knocked on his door, to shoot first and ask questions later?

I know, I know… a lot of you will reply by saying that YOU have multiple stashes of preps, so there is no possibility that you’d ever lose everything. Well, that may be true (albeit unlikely) in your case but not in everyone’s. We all can’t afford bunkers and remote cabins to (attempt to) escape to. Besides, what about your unprepared elderly grandmother or (fill in the blank) other relative or friend? Or have you completely given up on non-prepper society, including blood relatives?

What I find incredibly amusing is the number of prepper articles or blog postings that reference certain fables or even Bible passages in a truly pitiful attempt to justify the position of not helping others. Ah, yes, the story of the ant and the grasshopper. Fine. Whatever. I’ve seen it a dozen or more times in the past few months. And then there are those who claim to be Christians and who pull statements from the Bible and use them out of context. Very convenient. Are you trying to convince others or yourselves that it really “is” acceptable not to help others? What happened to things like the Golden Rule? What about, for those who profess to be Christians, what Christ considers to be the second greatest commandment – to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:31, Leviticus 19:18)? Do you find such concepts too difficult, contradictory, or troublesome to incorporate into a prepper mindset? Or do you simply prefer to pick and choose what you think supports the way you believe and ignore the rest? Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way, and you know it.

what about your unprepared elderly grandmother or (fill in the blank) other relative or friend?

Many prepper articles and advertisements proclaim, “…we’re all in this together!” (while trying to sell you more outlandish gear that is “guaranteed” to be the absolute one thing to have that will save your life). Yeah, right, we’re all in this together… that is until the SHTF, and then it is every person for himself or herself; you are seriously on your own; don’t come knocking on my door! These statements of supposed collaboration are so ludicrous that they just crack me up. I don’t believe for a second that any seller profiting from preppers is in this “with me”… other than to try to get as much money out of me as possible prior to the SHTF event. I’ll even admit that I idiotically purchased two of these products, which both turned out to be defective or useless pieces of junk resulting in my returning them for refunds. Real friends, real teammates, and real partners don’t sell you crap so they can make a buck, so don’t believe for one minute that these sellers give one damn hoot about where your ass ends up when the SHTF. They won’t hesitate to shoot you, too, given the chance.

And in an article just recently (11/1/16) published on this very site, a seemingly well-meaning prepper stated that “…it’s not your job to feed and clothe your neighbors or your community.” Hmmmm, really? I wonder if she ever read in the Bible about feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, or providing a drink to the thirsty? Everything you did not do for those in need, likewise you did not do for Christ (Matthew 25:40-45). Yes, it is your responsibility and mine to care for our neighbors, contrary to popular belief, regardless of whether or not you like them or approve of their lifestyles.

What if all your preps are destroyed?

If this is getting annoyingly theological for you, how about we switch gears and take a look at the show “The Walking Dead,” of which I am a serious fan. Have we not just seen demonstrated in Season 6 and the beginning of Season 7 the idea that people can, and do, change? Look at how both Morgan and Carol have changed. And then there is Daryl, who keeps saying in retrospect that he “should have killed” so-and-so, but then he goes on repeatedly trying to save people episode after episode. Yes, I realize it’s a television show, not real life. No joke. (I don’t waste much time watching mindless television anyhow.) But people can change. So who are you to say that your neighbor can’t change, too? Do you think that being a prepper gives you the right to judge another human being’s ability (or lack thereof) to change and therefore possibly condemn that person to death? Who suddenly made you judge, jury, and executioner? I’m not talking about giving up the safety and welfare of your family. I’m suggesting you plan – yes, PLAN – to include helping others in your prepping. If you’re smart enough to prep, then you’re most certainly savvy enough to figure out how to do this. And if you choose not to, then you will be held accountable, one way or another, for failing to not at least try to help your neighbor in need… and this goes beyond simply trying to convince them to prepare in advance.

I am not inexperienced enough to claim to understand the situation of every person out there who might read this. But I can tell you that my family is not wealthy. My family doesn’t take vacations or go to the movies or drive fancy cars or have a bunker or cabin to escape to. But our meager preparations do include provisions for others. It can be done without breaking OPSEC or exposing your family to danger. Take a recent article published elsewhere about what one person learned from a “redneck neighbor.” I was deeply moved by that article. The redneck neighbor had over 20 emergency kits for his neighbors… the same neighbors who constantly rolled their eyes at him, looked down on him, and ridiculed him. I don’t know if the kits were expensive store-bought kits or homemade kits, but what does it matter? He still believed in caring for his neighbors and had invested in substantial supplies to help them when they inevitably came knocking on his door seeking help in a crisis. Who is the Christian in that article? Who is the one person who followed the Golden Rule despite being mocked? Can you not see it? Who do you want to be?

Do you really want to be the last person standing after TEOTWAWKI? Do you honestly want to sit there and watch your neighbor’s kids starve or die miserably painful deaths from disease outbreaks? Do you want your neighbors’ blood on your hands and your conscience? I’ve read that some preppers are looking forward to having a “short” SHTF event in order to wake everyone else up. Let me tell you, I doubt we’re in for anything short unless you are talking about a local flood. In the meantime, I challenge you to find a way to prep for those outside your four walls. And if you aren’t a Christian, at least remember the Golden Rule. Find a way to implement it. If you don’t, you will be held accountable for your actions or inactions, one way or another… when society/rule of law is restored, or upon your own death, or just by plain old Karma. Yeah, what comes around goes around.

Do you need a couple of ideas to get the juices flowing? Okay, here are a few simple ones, without exposing your personal stash during the early stages of a crisis:

1) Build some rough, homemade emergency kits… not the expensive, prepper-style buckets. Start with a small plastic grocery bag from your local store. Add a book of matches (preferably obtained from a local establishment) and a few small tea light candles OR a dollar-store-type of flashlight. Throw in some cans of caffeine-free soda or small bottles of water. Include a couple of pop-top cans of low-sodium store-brand soups or ravioli and/or pop-top cans of generic tuna or chicken, all of which can be picked up for next to nothing when your store (or Wally World) has discounts, coupons, or buy-one-get-one-free offers. Top it off with a couple of granola bars, fruit strips, applesauce cups, or maybe one or two sealed pouches from a box of Pop-Tarts™ or something similar. Don’t forget to include a plastic-wrapped set of disposable utensils leftover from having purchased take-out or delivery food, especially if the person isn’t familiar to you.

Have these little “kits” easily accessible in a closet somewhere near the front door, but don’t just go run and grab one to hand out to every visitor like it’s freaking Halloween. Allow the person to remain outside, behind your locked door while someone else is watching them (from a window or wherever), and then act as if you are taking a little time to bag up a few items. Bang around in the kitchen pantry a little bit before coming back to the door. Apologize that this is all you can afford to share, as you, too, are strapped for necessities. Also be sure that each plastic bag “kit” does not contain the identical contents. Make 5 kits or a dozen kits – whatever works for your situation and budget. Perhaps reserve them only for people you know so that you don’t have to risk opening your door to complete strangers.

2) If you prefer to focus on one aspect, consider choosing water/fluid. Assume your neighbors just might have a few cans or boxes of food on their pantry shelves. If a neighbor comes looking for help, give them a 2 liter bottle of caffeine-free generic soda. It will provide some calories as well as fluid without promoting dehydration.

Again, you don’t have to go overboard, but it is essential to try to help in any small way, while being safe, particularly during the beginning of a crisis. You may even end up making a new friend or ally. But if things drag on, there will eventually come a time when you will have nothing left to give out without the risk of compromising your family. At that point you (hopefully) can simply commiserate with your neighbors and perhaps try to figure out the closest Red Cross or other water/food-distribution site. This is somewhere a person from your household absolutely must visit along with the rest of your neighbors, so as not to raise suspicions. Bring along some empty containers to fill with water in case there are no water bottles, a cardboard box to carry any food, and a backpack with extra room that also contains your hidden EDC (Every Day Carry). Preferably go in a small group with other neighbors rather than alone. Be certain to carry additional concealed weapons for protection.

3) Another option could be to select a specific neighbor to help, such as an elderly person who lives alone or a single-parent household where your kids know their kids. Take a small care package of whatever water, food, and lighting items you can to that person or family and see how they are doing. You can even explain to that person or family that you had time to fill up a couple of leftover 2 liter soda bottles with water before the taps ran dry and that luckily you’d just been to the grocery store the night before. Then if anyone else comes to your door looking for assistance, you can explain you shared what little you had with one neighbor already or simply say you have nothing available.

4) Anonymously donating food, water, and/or other supplies to a nearby charity or church at the very beginning of a crisis can be another way to keep your family protected. If someone comes looking for assistance, you can point them in the direction of the known charity or church or elsewhere without having to directly give out any assistance.

5) Or after you’ve implemented your family’s SHTF emergency plan, consider trying to knock on the doors of (or call, if possible) at least 2-5 of your closest neighbors, who you at least know by name, and alert them to the emergency, in case they are unaware. You might even casually suggest that you heard on the radio that people should fill up everything available (buckets, tubs, sinks, pots, bowls, pitchers, etc.) with water while they can, just in case, and to send someone else from their house (if available) to the store to purchase bottled water and/or food, assuming the roads aren’t already flooded with cars, etc. Doing this simple, proactive step might save you from having quite as many people knocking on your door looking for assistance. It may also win you some allies. Of course, it could go the other way and send those same people looking to you for aid if they fail to follow your suggestions; but I believe in an actual SHTF situation, there will be sufficient evidence (such as non-functional cars & cell phones, widespread power outages, mass confusion, lack of communication, etc.) that even the most reluctant person would try to do anything possible to protect themselves.

Obviously, none of these suggestions is foolproof nor are they appropriate for everyone. These are just some ideas. Do what you can or come up with another suggestion to share with others in the comments below. Not helping anyone at all (outside of your family or group) is simply not a realistic option unless you plain don’t care whether or not you gain the world but lose your soul. We will need others – including those who are different from us – to rebuild society once the event ends.