The survivalist community is often perceived as a bunch of gloom and doom types sitting on a pile of MREs, ammunition and guns in some far out corner of the North West. Of course the survivalist is also typecast as expecting TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) to occur any day now, in fact he is actually hoping for it. Honestly it is time for this stereotype to die a deserving death. Modern survivalists are many things but very few are actually concerned about the infamous black helicopters or FEMA Camps. Most instead are simply realists who understand that sometimes things do go wrong and it is better to be prepared than to expect someone else to solve your problems.
The real key to modern survivalism is the Modern Survival Philosophy which is a group ten key principles that guide the actions of many survivalists. While all are important it is tenet number one that really sets the stage for separating the doomsday stereotype from the reality. Survivalists are generally thought of as people who prepare to deal with disasters, shortages and anything that disrupts society. Modern survivalists do this but they do so in a way that improves their lives even if nothing major ever goes wrong.
For example many survival-minded individuals grow gardens and develop more permanent food-producing crops like fruit trees, berry bushes etc. on their property. They generally stick to organic production methods, focus on water harvesting and attempt to maximize production per square meter. This is a classic survival technique designed to remain sustainable if anything hits from simple loss of personal income all the way up to a collapse of US infrastructure. So yes in the event of economic collapse this makes a tremendous amount of sense as a modern survival tactic.
Now let’s examine the other side of the issue. What if we never have an economic collapse, what if there are no food shortages in the next 30 years and what if the survivalist never even has a layoff to contend with? Flat out for the foreseeable future absolutely nothing goes wrong. If you have your property landscaped with sustainable organic food-producing crops are you not still better off?
Consider that by setting up sustainable and productive organic agriculture that your property value will be increased if for no other reason than environmentalism is a huge movement right now. You will spend less money over the years on buying food which can be saved, invested, used to reduce debt, etc. Further your health will be improved by eating high-quality fresh produce not to mention the exercise you get. Of course the list of benefits from having a solid sustainable edible landscape on your property is exhaustive and could go on a lot further but hopefully this begins to make the point.
Let’s examine more briefly a few more common things that survival minded individuals do and consider what benefit they have to us even if nothing ever goes wrong.
- One key to modern survivalism is debt elimination. In the event of a disaster from personal up to global those in less debt are better suited to handle what comes their way. Yet even without any type of disaster having low to no debt will result in a much more sustainable and rewarding lifestyle.
- Having firearms and the training to use them is useful in anything from a garden-variety home invasion to a true societal breakdown and it can be the difference between life and death. Yet if nothing goes wrong the armed citizen is still more confident and makes decisions based on reality vs. fear.
- Storing extra food is “Survivalism 101” and there are many things that can go wrong from a personal up to a global level where such stored food is potentially life saving. Yet by following the mantra of “store what you eat and eat what you store” modern survivalists actually spend less money via a classic method known as “capital deferral.” This is accomplished by purchasing what will be used anyway at today’s prices to beat inflation, much the way Southwest Airlines does by purchasing fuel contracts while prices are lower.
- This concept simply continues though just about every facet of survivalism. If you put in solar panels and/or wind generators, and you are ready to handle a black out no matter what the cause or how long it lasts. Yet even if nothing goes wrong, and you pay less for you electric bill and increase your property value.
- Learn to “live off the land” with hunting, fishing and foraging and you will be more likely to survive a disaster but if nothing goes wrong you are enjoying the outdoors, getting exercise, saving money and eating better quality food all at the same time.
This formula is practically bullet-proof as long as you keep the first tenet in mind as you make lifestyle and purchasing decisions; again that tenet is,
“Everything You Do Should Improve Your Position in Life Even If Nothing Goes Wrong”
This keeps you from using survivalism as a convenient excuse to blow money and go into debt, which would violate one of the other tenets anyway. For instance fishing is a great way to add another low cost protein source to the household if done with practical and modestly priced equipment. Yet if you go out and purchase a 25,000-dollar bass boat and fancy equipment you will never get an ROI on your production. Now if you want a nice boat, this is America, there is nothing wrong with that but if you want to be a survivalist, save your money and buy what is adequate with cash. One version is an expensive hobby, the other is a way to improve your lifestyle.
It is really a simple core guiding principle: each time you are making a decision about where to spend time, money or resources you simply ask the question, “Will this action improve my ability to live a sustainable lifestyle if we have a disaster or even if we don’t.” When the answer is yes you make it part of your survival planning. If the answer is no, that doesn’t mean you don’t do it, it simply means it is a luxury not an investment in an asset that provides for your future and hence you prioritize it accordingly.
There is a fundamental reality that most Americans are living beyond their means in an unsustainable way. They are one or two paychecks from poverty, consuming food that is unhealthy, working far to hard for far to little and above all many are miserable. Yes miserable! They work at a job they hate, drive on a commute they hate even more and give up the best parts of their lives simply to earn enough money to pay the interest on their debts. They then retire with a social security check that keeps them just to the south side of the poverty line and by the time most 30–40 somethings retire they won’t even get that.
The modern survivalist simply realizes that is not good enough, that life is precious and as humans we have a fundamental liberty that many choose to sell for far to low of a price. The good news is you have a choice, you can choose to walk though life with a credit card at the ready or you can choose to live a life that can be sustained in both good times and bad. It all starts with asking the simple question, “will this choice improve my long term sustainability,” on a daily basis. Simply asking that question will put you on the path to becoming a modern survivalist.
Jack Spirko [send him mail] is a former U.S. Army Airborne soldier and the host of u201CThe Survival Podcast,u201D a daily online broadcast that helps listeners learn ways to live the life they want if times get tough or even if they don't.