Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Armchair Survivalist - Addendum
After re-reading my post on armchair survivalists, I thought I would take this opportunity to clarify my position.
Some of you may have thought I was scoffing at your level of preparations or didn't think people should research or talk about preparedness. That couldn't be farther from the truth! In reality, all of us have different resources from which to draw on as we prepare for an uncertain future. In a perfect world, we would have unlimited time and money and could build zombie proof bunkers that would see us safely through World War III. The world just isn't perfect, and nobody (at least nobody that I know) has the time or finances to accommodate such a plan.
The real world dictates that we go to war with what we have. My entreaty to all of you is to make sure you know how to use what you have. If you only have a can opener and some canned goods - make sure you know how to use your can opener. If you only have a Buck knife, don't leave it in the box - use it so you know how to when you really need it. If you are fortunate enough to have an AR-15, don't let it become a safe queen. Sight it in, put it through its paces, oil it - prepare it to stand at the ready.
We all learn from one another, but we can't rely on the "experts" that have never done it. Seek out people that have skills that you don't have and learn. Ask questions. Be prudent. When push comes to shove, only the skills you have learned will be of any use to you. All of the research you have done and information that you have garnered will be like so much rubbish unless you have put it into practice.
When Sir Knight and I were preparing for Y2K we read every magazine, book and article we could get our hands on. We drank in stories of living off the grid with nothing more than a China diesel generator and a few Aladdin lamps. We "knew" that you could run an entire household, including freezers and refrigerators, with a few gallons of diesel and a little ingenuity. We read product reviews and researched energy systems. We talked and planned and bought. We smugly waited for midnight on December 31, 1999. We were ready. And nothing happened.
As 2000 ambled into fall, we moved into Little Shouse on the Prairie. Unexpectedly thrust into pioneer life, we were confident that we would have no problems with our new normal. As we put each new skill to the test and each new tool into service, we were awakened to the fact that we were ill prepared for our new life. Nothing worked the way the "experts" said it would. The China Diesel leaked like a sieve. Refrigeration was an impossibility. The Aladdin's burned up one mantle after another and the Petromax caught the kitchen table on fire. Cooking everything from scratch in a wood cookstove was time consuming and hard and the romantic notions of gathering in the evenings to read out loud were marred by freezing temperatures and shivering bodies.
Through the school of hard knocks, we learned that many "experts" were, in reality, armchair survivalists. They talked a good story, but they had never lived the life.
We do need to exchange ideas. We need to know what works and what doesn't. But we need to be prudent when we are acquiring information. Do we ask the guy that has written the book on off-grid living, or the guy who has lived off-grid living?
You don't have to spend a million dollars to be prepared. You don't have to live without electricity and do your laundry on the wood stove, but you do have to know how to use what you have, whether it is a kerosene lamp or a 5KW solar system. Preparedness is going to look different on each of us. What it looks like doesn't matter, how it functions does.