When The Schomer Hits The Fan (WTSHTF) and food becomes very scarce, it won’t take very long before people find themselves quite literally starving. And I don’t mean “starving” the way that teenagers say it! To a teenager, they think they are starving if it’s been more than three hours since they’ve eaten a significant meal.
When I refer to starvation, I mean that the body has consumed all of its stores of fat and is now consuming its own muscle mass for energy.
I have been there.
Back in 1995, I was a student in the US Army’s Ranger School, at Fort Benning, Georgia. This was — and still is — an incredibly tough course. Ranger School is an intense small unit patrolling, tactics, and leadership course, that lasts 62 grueling days. The drop-out rate is quite high, especially for those who cycle through the course during winter months. For many of the weeks in that 62 days, you get perhaps two hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, and very little food. There are tough weather conditions, agonizing physical challenges, plenty of running around in soaking-wet uniforms, and so forth. Earning the coveted Ranger Tab is not easy!
Being very trim to begin with, it wasn’t long before what little body fat I had was gone.
And I was hungry!
The Peanut Butter Packet Incident
One particular incident stands out in my memories of Ranger Scool: I had a peanut butter packet in my pocket that I saved from a Meal, Ready-To-Eat (MRE), and was planning to sneak it when there were no instructors around. It was big trouble if you were caught eating anything at all unless you were in a patrol base with security established and priorities of work completed.
Chow and sleep were on the very bottom of the list of priorities of patrolling work, and rarely did you get the time where you could eat in peace.
So I was really looking forward to that MRE peanut butter when I reached into my pocket to get it out.
And it wasn’t there.
Panic immediately ensued!
I turned and ran back down the trail I was on to search for the missing peanut butter. As I came into a small clearing, there was another Ranger student who was just standing back up after bending down to pick up my dropped peanut butter.
When I told him it was mine, he explained that he was just thanking the Lord for providing him with this food.
Now, I’m a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, with a strong faith. So, this guy’s statement would normally resonate with me.
But I was hungry. Like, stupid hungry. And I wanted, nay, I NEEDED, that peanut butter.
So here were two believers, two Christians, standing in a clearing ready to fight over a little packet of peanut butter.
All because of significant hunger.
Consider Hunger In The Near Future
Now, consider that situation and then imagine how people will be when they have loved ones that are quite literally starving, with no fat on their bones and very little muscle mass left.
Imagine what you would do if your own little children have bloated bellies from acute malnourishment.
Imagine the love of your life with cheekbones so prominent that her face looks skeletal.
Imagine the strong man you vowed to spend the rest of your life with reduced to struggling just to stand up because there just isn’t anything left in his body to burn for energy.
Now imagine your neighbors dealing with those same issues in their homes.
And then imagine how they would react if they think you have food.
At first, they ask nicely for help. They just need a little of your extra food. That’s all. Just until things get better.
Then, they get angry because you aren’t sharing enough with them. Why do you have to be so stingy when you obviously have plenty to eat? I mean, just look at you. You aren’t starving at all, they say.
Very soon, they stop asking and start demanding that you give them your food. You have some, and they need some, but you don’t want to give it up. They are thinking to themselves: Your selfishness will make others around you die. Quit trying to play God!
And then, it gets dangerous.
They get killin’ hungry. They get killin’ mad. They get killin’ desperate.
Desperation borne of extreme hunger will drive normally good, loving, and generous people to become dangerous, unpredictable creatures that are a significant threat to your safety, who will be ready and willing to kill in order to feed their families.
Be very aware of that.
Remember that most people don’t have much of a stockpile of food at all, so it won’t take long for them to go through whatever food is on their shelves and then their bodies begin consuming themselves for energy in a real SHTF situation.
That’s when dangerous levels of desperation begin to develop.
Desperate people are dangerous people.
By the way, I walked away from that clearing with my peanut butter back in my pocket and I ate it all shortly afterward. The other guy got nothing.
It’s not something that I am proud of, but it serves to illustrate the premise that desperation borne of hunger can drive decent folks to become people that they never thought they could become.
Desperation can often drive someone hard enough to produce a victory in a difficult situation, especially when that desperation is paired with a sense of “That belongs – or at the very least, should belong – to ME!”
If TSHTF, you need to be prepared to protect your clan because the threats won’t just be people getting mad at you and deciding to not be friends with you anymore. The threat will be grievous bodily harm to you and your loved ones so that the unprepared can steal what was yours.
Hunger can turn good people into desperate people, and desperate people are dangerous people. Hunger-driven desperation can cause people to feel that you are the enemy because you have what they need and you won’t surrender your stores to them.
They will justify to themselves whatever actions they take in order to secure for themselves the food and supplies that you have stockpiled over a long period of time.
In their minds, it’s all morally acceptable since they plan to take supplies for their own unprepared families from a terrible hoarding monster who won’t share his supplies with everyone and doesn’t care if they suffer and die slow, horrible deaths of starvation.
That very real possibility strongly suggests that you keep your preps very secret. And if you are a hopelessly charitable person (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) you should consider keeping the bulk of your stockpile safely hidden away, and then keep a second not-so-secret stash of supplies to share with them, or let them “steal,” knowing that desperate people could very well demand to forcibly search your house for any food that you have, and when that not-so-hidden stash of food is gone, and they see that your cupboard is bare, you’ll be able to at least temporarily avoid any more desperation confrontations.
Ultimately, when it becomes evident that you aren’t wasting away like those around you that are unprepared, there will probably come a time when you’ll still have to defend what is yours, but you will be much stronger physically, and much more able to think clearly than the starving mobs.
Starvation robs the mind as well as the body. The brain doesn’t function very well when it lacks nutrients, so a fed brain is a clear brain.
You’ll be clear-minded while the mob is slogging through a muddy fog in their brains due to malnourishment. The advantage will belong to you.
Survival doesn’t tend to be pretty, and it comes with plenty of hard choices that have to be made. But we prepare for hard times so that we can survive when life gets very hard, and we must be ready to deal with hungry, desperate, dangerous people that failed to prepare and whose only plan of survival is to take from those who did.