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Understand Egypt: Making stone soup

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Editor’s note: The Blaze is featuring some guest posts to help our readers gain a deeper understanding of the situation in Egypt.  This post, by financial analyst Damon Vickers, looks at the potential effect of Middle East instability on the financial markets.

We are facing a moment in history that is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. Never before have so many people in so many regions of the world simultaneously beat the drums of revolution. While change is inevitable, what can we do to prepare ourselves? And how might a widespread transition to extremist Islamic rule in the Middle East effect your pocketbook? Your investments? And perhaps the politics here in the United States.

Consider that a large part of all the oil produced in the world flows thru the Suez Canal and the strait of Hormuz. Consider these passageways as chokeholds. The rabble in the Middle East must be keenly aware of the effect this disruption would have on global supplies, economics, and your pocketbook.  The practice all along has been to hit the west where it hurts. Collapse their towers, blow up buses, planes, and other targets that effect the mass psychology of the west. Therefore it is likely that if the momentum of change persists, they will likely exercise their option and hit us where it hurts, oil.

The price of oil is a very significant part of everything we buy in the US. Consider that plastic, food, fertilizer, tires, asphalt, and the price you pay at the pump, the hourly wages that are paid to employees are ALL driven by oil prices.

So what would $200/barrel oil look like? Well, food prices here and around the world are likely to spike dramatically, this spike would likely further drive the political instability in the region and further provide the tinder for the fire of extremism to spread throughout the Middle East region and into Africa. $200/ barrel oil will hit the stock market very hard, likely putting the rally we have seen in recent months (since 2009) to an abrupt halt, if not an all out reversal. Oil shares will likely rise, but in an all out rout the stock market will offer few places to hide. If a significant trend change should occur, all exposure to the equities markets might need to be reversed to short, so profits may be made from the markets decline. You might consider owning ETF’s that rise as the market falls, or accumulating more Gold.

Higher oil will affect the entire world's political stability. Higher oil will effect the entire worlds confidence. Higher oil will draw the entire worlds attention to focus on the Middle East. Higher oil is what they want.

So what might we do to be prepared, not alarmed, not panicked, not impulsed or reacting (which is the most weak position we could have), but prepared. If you ask survivors of some of the most horrific events, like plane crashes, fires, or even 9/11. The common thing  you’ll hear almost all the survivors tell you is that they had situational awareness. We need situational awareness. It is what Glenn Beck pounds home pretty much every week -- “ be prepared”. Be prepared as a person, a family, a community, a nation and a world. “For change is a comin'.”

•    Start keeping your car on full not empty, in addition if you have any extra gas cans – keep them full too.

•    Immediately put together a  6 month supply of food for your family – these should be non-perishables, rice, beans, grains, pastas, and buy at least one large freezer if not two. You should buy meats as well, while you can, as grain prices may really spike...thus driving all protein prices higher (grains are fed to cattle).

•    If you heat with oil, consider locking down your costs for the next year – now.

•    Get lockable gas caps on your car if you don’t already have, as some folks might get adventurous with your cars gas reservoir.

•    Put a lock on your oil tank for your house.

•    Consider buying a bicycle if your commute is local. Consider carpooling.

•    Conserve electricity, now. We have way more devices "on" than we realize. A rise in oil will drive utility prices higher.

More than anything else, consider the fact that there is strength in community.  Whatever we face we will make it through this together.  Be more supportive of your local food bank and church outreach, practice random acts of kindness, your 80-year-old neighbor may need your help. Consider the pride of someone who may need your kindness but be too proud to ask…follow your heart as your heart will see more clearly the suffering of your fellow man than your eyes.

As for our leaders…“lead or get out of the way.”  Take a stand for something…define what that is and project it. Our president has the ear of the world and is whispering nothing inspirational nor uplifting with any depth. The time of political platitudes and empty vague agendas is long over and easily seen though.

The American people and yet the world is looking for leadership. Not the leadership of exploitation and merciless global commerce. But leadership of compassion, of courage, and shared values.

Regardless of religion, or class, or ethnicity, or any other decisive elements that would seek to divide us, we are human. Let us come together all over the world as mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, and Mormon. Let us put aside our differences for the benefit of our children. Let us no longer be manipulated by governments and principalities, nor divided by what we disagree about. Let us instead come together where we agree. The most basic elements of life that we love -- our children, our families. We all seek happiness, and freedom of expression. We all deserve the right to have a relationship with our creator. On this we will find that we agree more than we disagree, and that what has kept us apart as brothers and sisters of our world was our fear all along. With faith we will put this aside, with compassion we will see the pain of our fellow man and with strength we will walk forward. ALL together.

My wife recently got together with her friends…17 of them.  They went to one home and each brought an ingredient.  They had good company and enjoyed a great meal together as they made stone soup. This comes from an old  story…

Stone Soup

Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. The travelers fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire in the village square. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making "stone soup", which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with just a little bit of carrot to help them out, so it gets added to the soup. Another villager     walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all

Our differences , our varying cultures, are the beauty of this world – we are more nourished but its variety and healthier for it.

May we come together and cook the soup .

Damon Vickers bio can be found here.

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