I don’t remember the exact date, but it was close to a year ago that, on a whim, I downloaded and read “ Patriots “  on my iPad. As I read through the fictional account my world was turned over and an amazing trip down the rabbit hole of preparedness began. I scoured the blogs and read every account, both fictional and non, searching for and accumulating knowledge that would lead me to effective action in order to save my family’s life. I learned the distinctions of TEOTWAWKI  and more, then began to design a way to “bug out” of my current city-dwelling life should the SHTF .
My wife and I accumulated the basic essentials and built contingency plans while we searched for places to bug out to, move to, acquire or otherwise get out of dodge. In the process, we’ve started a local preparedness group and talked with others about the best ways in which to survive the coming hard times. My moods alternated between sadness, fear, accomplishment (at getting ready), and resolution. Focusing on my survival and the survival of my wife and two young kids was actually a relatively straight-foward process. We need food, water, shelter, and protection no matter if it’s economic “collapse”, EMP , solar flares, martial law, war, or any other chaotic life-changing event.
As we made progress, a new question kept nagging me. It wasn’t until last night, when I read your blog and the post by T.N.P. about his retreat’s rules , that it really clicked that something was missing. I think he did a wonderful job organizing the requirements, expectations, and parameters for his group. I’ll probably use some of his ideas for our group. (Do you hear the “but” coming?) Yes, there was something missing. It was the answer to these questions: For the sake of what are we living like this for? Why would I give up whatever freedoms I still had, and subject myself to the complete authority of a single individual? You may or may not have caught it, but his narrative stated that he had the final say on issues. He maintained the authority (and supposedly force) to kick you and your gear off his land, which would supposedly be during crisis times. The consequences of which would be unknowable, but most likely not very favorable to the banished.
I served over a decade in the US military and in combat in Iraq. I learned and explored the dictatorial nature of military structure and chain of command during that time. I know firsthand that this type of “government” is necessary for good order and discipline. Yet, in this all-volunteer military, there are still checks and balances to power accumulation and usage in the ranks. More than anything, however, we choose to give up some of our rights and privileges for a clearly defined purpose and trust in the system against abuse. That purpose is to preserve and defend the US Constitution against it’s enemies foreign and domestic.
What makes this different from other countries though? I assert that it is the content of the US Constitution that really gives meaning and power to ones decision to fight and die for. I didn’t willingly join the military to fight for a “leader”, or just in order to “survive”, nor for the simple “common good”. I committed my life and limb to an idea that the US Constitution is the most superior document designed in which to secure the blessings of liberty for me and my family. I willingly decided to join the ranks of other men who were will to live and die for the freedoms that our country have nurtured and enjoyed. In other words, freedom and liberty became the cause for which to fight and survive.
That indirectly leads us to the core philosophical question of why do we prep? Why do we work so hard to survive? How do we do it and maintain a philosophical and spiritual harmony? If the answer is simply to survive, we could accept all manner of bondage and survive. We could submit to an authoritarian regime, be it a US Government, a feudal lord, or a survival retreat owner. We may indeed survive. What then is the cost? Would we then have to shed more blood to regain freedom and liberty? History is full of these examples.
As we stand on the precipice of world chaos, a potential economic collapse, and surely hard times, we must continue to make a stand for Liberty. We must embody it even in the darkest of times, and keep it alive even as we plan our survival. We must build our retreat constitutions not only with laws, but also checks and balances, commitments to individual rights and freedoms, and model it after what we as patriots hold dear, The Founding United States Documents: The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.
I fear, more than anything (in this world), losing the individual freedoms we are assured by these documents. If and when the SHTF , lets keep liberty alive in our survival groups. Be that shining light others will rally around. Don’t become an authoritarian regime. Practice love, charity, kindness and guarantee individual freedoms. Don’t do it at a whim, but build it in your survival constitution and build in a series of checks and balances. Distribute power.
I am confident that fiefdoms will arise. Gangs will gain power. In an economic collapse scenario, the US Government will lose power and a power vacuum will occur at local levels. People and groups will accumulate that power through force, financial power, or entrepreneurial power. Conflict will occur. I intend to align my family with those whose practice is to build individual freedoms patterned after our founding fathers. Many US patriots will flock to those groups and a new power (grounded in liberty) will arise in a distributed authoritarian nation. This ideal of liberty is what will save our country as we’ve known it. This power and promise of liberty is what will give us hope. It will give us something to really survive and live for.