Rod Serling’s eerily accurate portrayal of preppers vs. everybody else

image by meltwater

image by meltwater

A piece of prepper conventional wisdom is to keep all your “preps” secret, telling no one. If people, friends, relatives, neighbors, or friends-of-friends find out that you have stored food, water, and other supplies, they’ll be banging on your door demanding their share.

Recently an “emergency manager,” named Valerie Lucas-McEwen caused quite a stir when she wrote an article accusing preppers of being selfish. In a second article she tried to backtrack a bit but still stuck to her guns in the belief that people who seriously prepare for emergencies should be willing to share with others.

Columnist and blogger Patrice Lewis wrote a brilliant response here, and you’ll find numerous similar articles around the web.

My concern isn’t so much the issue of selfishness. After all, what do I care if a woman I don’t know has a less-than-positive opinion of something I choose to do with my own money and on my own time. My concern goes back to the responses of people who have been told they have a “right” to what I own based on the words of Ms. Lucas-McEwen and others like her.

This led me to an episode of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone”, called “The Shelter”. As you watch this, keep in mind that Serling had to compress the actions of the characters to fit the time constraints of a TV show, but the reactions of the doctor’s neighbors in a time of a deadly crisis seem to be right on the money.

Those who have been preaching OpSec! OpSec! OpSec! are probably more right than not.

These three videos take about 25 minutes to watch.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Your thoughts?

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  1. says

    I vaguely remember this Twilight Zone. Which shows my age somewhat. The behaviors of these neighbors are a good lesson for us to remember what kinds of choices we hope we never are faced with. Thanks for sharing.

  2. says

    I was really taken aback by the Valerie Lucas-McEwen article and even her second article that was meant to clarify the first. How is it selfish if we elect to spend our money that we earned on ourselves? I don’t go out to dinner with my friends because I see that as an unnecessary expense, but I see my food stores as vital. My friends and neighbors aren’t sharing those dinners with me now, why should I share mine with them later? If they made the same choices I did, they would have food in the future as well.

    Why is do people like Ms. Lucas-McEwen think that there should be no consequences for their actions? She has said she couldn’t make it two weeks without government help in case of an emergency. She knows what she should be doing and yet she is not preparing even herself. That to me is selfish, expecting others to support her when she should be doing it herself.

    Thanks for the Twilight Zone episode. It is so realistic. Those other people thought their families should be saved at the cost of the family who actually prepared. I’m glad Rod Serling showed that the community wasn’t going to be the same afterwards, because it wouldn’t. It was destroyed the second the mob took control.

  3. says

    Good grief. That defies all logic. Loved Twilight Zone when I was a kid, however. I remember folks building fallout shelters in the 50s. Not buying into the war-mongering and fear (that’s all about money). And not much I can do about a pole shift. But bad solar weather knocking out a power grid. Or extreme weather/disasters due to climate change. I will be ready!!

  4. Grace says

    I loved Twilight Zone so I probably saw this episode altho I dont remember. Thats probably why there was that little tingle in my brain when I first started listening to my sister and my son about prepping. Combine that with what happened with Katrina and Sandy. Who’s crazy?

  5. Stealth Spaniel says

    Yep, I loved the Twilight Zone and think that Rod Serling was a definite genius. I also think that Lucas-Mcewen woman is a nitwit. Why should preppers, spending their own money and their own time, be obligated to take care of “the masses”?? I have given up trying to convert friends and relatives who have buried their heads and pretend everything is hunky dory. If they show up on my doorstep, knowing me, I will probably take them in-but I am not inviting anyone. I prepare for disasters, but for me that could be a 10.5 earthquake or TEOTWAWKI. l probably have a softer heart for dogs, the elderly, or children then I will ever have for the people who deliberately ignore the obvious. The obnoxious 20 yro who lives across the street and takes delight in parking so I can’t get the trash out on garbage day is gonna be REALLY skinny before I decide to share any ham and bean soup. ;-D

  6. Kris says

    Dear Valerie Lucas-McEwen: according to your logic, I’ll take my kids on vacation every summer. When it’s time for them to go to college, I’ll expect you to split everything you’ve saved for your child’s education equally with my 3. And when my husband and I decide it’s time to retire, we’ll be expecting an equal share of your IRA just when you need it. Don’t be so selfish; we deserve an education fund and retirement plan, too!

  7. charley says

    This episode was on not too long ago. SyFy shows several episodes most every sunday morning. Here again, we go to the ‘zombie’ mentality. The group stuck outside the shelter quickly turned into an angry mob that turned on friends and neighbors, with no rational thought to the fact that they were destroying the very shelter that they wanted to get into for protection. Like the ant and the grasshopper fable. The grasshopper plays and sings while the ant spends the summer storing food. When winter comes the starving grasshopper begs the ant to share his food. No one comes knocking on my door asking me to share my car with them. Why should I share my food and water.

  8. says

    We see this now! How many scramble for anything other than the norm? VERY few save, it’s spend spend spend and I’ll worry about it tomorrow. We’ve doubled the garden last year and extended family always says WTSHTF they are coming to my house….with no plans of how etc….I used to laugh it off till I realized they were serious. Had to inform the no way unless they were ready to add to the stores. and skill set. It’s the entire attitude they have “someone else will do it for them”. These same folks (during canning time) say hey I’ll take some of those beans……my response of sure, come help pull some weeds and pick a few generally leaves them upset that they would have to “work” for what they want.

    • charley says

      my family and my neighbors, some of which are the same, trade. One has a good year for tomatoes, another has better luck with potatoes. One came into a fallout of extra dish soap, another has more coupons for something than could possibly be used….etc.
      It can’t be one makes beer and the other drinks beer. Start asking what they have to trade for the beans.

  9. Eeriekat says

    My grandfather was director of Civil Defense of our hometown, of course so it didn’t sound so threatening they changed it to Emergency Management. I learned from him and by moving around in the military growing up that you have to be prepared for anything. Most people are sheep. They think someone else will take care of them. It is individual responsibility

  10. bob says

    I don’t consider myself selfish for being prepared to NOT use the resources of FEMA or the Emergency Management of my area and that leaves my “share” for someone else who CHOOSES not to prepare for whatever happens!!!

  11. Puterbum8 says

    Isn’t the preparation of individual families in turn the preparation of a community? The original article missed the mark and I suppose that is also why organizations such as FEMA also miss the mark. Prepared individuals creats a prepared community and society without the government having to foot such a huge bill and burden. Maybe the author should refocus an what her job really means to prepare a community. My small community knows we have storage, but they also know we are more than happy to share information and help them to prepare their own families. That should be the response of the emergency management professionals as well. Help individuals prepare a community.

  12. Magpie57 says

    Thank you for posting the Twilight Zone episode. I thoroughly enjoyed it even if the actors did chew the scenery. I guess the take home lessons here are to make sure your neighbors don’t know about your preps, make sure the door and door frame to your safe room is solid enough to stand up to battering from looters and other criminals and have some loaded firearms with you just in case someone does manage to break in. As for Ms Lucas-McEwen, she should understand that Communism and other non-voluntary socialist experiments to share private possessions are failures and that in a widespread emergency you are on your own. Law enforcement and other public service agencies can not possibly be everywhere at once to rescue and feed everyone affected by a widescale disaster. Failure to plan to provide for your famiy’s survival until social order and replishment of the food supply is restored is just plain irresponsible. I am willing to help the helpless (children, elderly, handicapped and injured) in a disaster but feel less charitable toward able-bodied adults who coud have prepared, but chose not to do so.

  13. Lynda says

    It’s an individual choice. I suppose it depends on how well you know and trust your neighbors. Some I would take in in a heartbeat. Others I would not and give minimal assistance unless they demonstrated a willingness to contribute to the cause.

    Yes; by not standing in a FEMA line others can have my families’ share.

  14. Jeanne says

    In reality, the “selfish” ones are, in fact, those who do not prepare for the future but demand that others give to them in time of need. There are many of them.

  15. says

    Jeanne you hit it right on the head. Selfish people don’t care about helping anyone but themselves. So many people rely on the government to save them. They make fun of all the preppers whether they are extremists or not, but when times are tough they are the first ones in line with their hand out.

  16. zooeyhall says

    I’m old enough to remember the Cold War (especially the early 60’s when the it came close to being “hot”). And as a “Zoner” I am so glad that you provide the opportunity for a new generation to see this amazingly prophetic and profound episode. This is one of the reasons the original Twilight Zone is today considered a “classic”.

    But more importantly it shows why it was important both then and now to “be prepared”. Preppers today should be glad to know that back in the days of fallout shelters us folks who built them were ridiculed too. And even though they were eventually not needed, as more details of the Cuban Missile Crisis have come out over the years, it could very much have been otherwise.


  1. […] This is how people are gonna act when the Feces hits the Oscillator The Twilight Zone – 1959 – Season 3, Episode 3 The Shelter – what would your neighbor's do? If you were Prepared and your neighbor's weren't, what do you think they'd do [even being your friends]? When people panic, all rationale goes out the window – although this is a 'movie', it still is a good example of how people can be. Rod Serling’s eerily accurate portrayal of preppers vs. everybody else | The Survival Mom™ […]

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