Persistence: Thoughts From An Old Prepper, by Bulldog

After a lifetime of living the prepping lifestyle, and as I reflect upon it, I would describe my prepping journey as an evolution of sorts. Such evolution appears present not only with my life but also within the entire movement. When I look back at my upbringing and early experiences of the mid 70’s and early 80’s I cannot even remember the term “prepping”. Certainly, however, I remember the term “survivalism”, particularly as I considered myself a student of the late Mel Tappan. I think it is safe to say that in those days and to a great extent, Joe Public looked down upon…and, I think, sometimes feared the latter [the result of media bias, even then]. Certainly, it could be said that they viewed them with suspicion.

Although we might categorize these two terms as relatively similar, traditionally I have found that people typically identified themselves as either one or the other, and similarly they seemed to likewise embrace slightly different ideologies. Into this mix, we could then throw in the term “homesteader”. Although a generalization, I think it might be said that Joe Public typically groups persons within the prepping and homesteader groups together, there would likely be a tendency to see the survivalist as a bit more militant.
We would likely all agree that the events of each of our lives, sometimes even the seemingly small ones, shape and mold us. They make us who we are. They make us unique! Again, reflecting upon my life…certainly my upbringing, the basic person I became was shaped by my parents. Looking back, I can see that they always strived to be prepared and the pantry — a 16′ x 20′ reinforced concrete cellar — was always full. This was, for the most part, food we had grown there on the farm which was then canned or dry canned. I bring this up only because my parents never seemed to adhere to or embrace any of the aforementioned labels. It was simply how they lived. We must remember that they were shaped by their childhood memories of World War II and the Cold War era.

A small few, particularly those within the psychology profession might even go so far as to suggest my parents were “hoarders”. To that, I would have to laugh at their foolishness and point out that nothing then seemed to ever go to waste or was not used. My parents simply and very strongly believed that “life happens”! They believed situations and/or circumstances could, and probably would, come up outside of our control so they taught us to be as prepared as we could. They were a bit like the guy that always…and I do mean always has a handkerchief [in my case a bandana] in his pocket. Why? Because you…or someone you meet, might need it.

What then is the purpose of my rambling and reminiscence? The point I wish to make is that, as preppers, or whatever term it is that you identify with, we are different and yet, the same. The forces that shaped us and made us who we are, are very different. Regardless of whether you identify as a prepper, survivalist, homesteader…or like my parents, “none of the above” we are still largely alike in our ideologies. We all hope to take care of ourselves and those we love and care for.

Here I refer to that tendency to group people into categories. Having said that, always remember that no two of us are alike. Similar yes, but certainly not replicas. Over the years I have been involved in various prepping groups, particularly the online groups. One by one I left them, even though my intended presence was to teach. There were always a few that tried to put people into one box or another. To shape them “into their own image”, and certainly their image of what a prepper or survivalist should be. One by one, I saw persons within those groups insist on, to the point of belittling, exactly what new preppers should do, exactly what supplies they should get…must have, at least in their minds. More importantly, if you didn’t do it that way… their way, you were wrong. For the most part, I was able to avoid these individuals, although often negotiating those spats felt more like traversing a minefield. In time I found these groups might be described as a vacuum, consuming far too much time that could otherwise be productive and worse the frequent drama that could suck the life out of you if you let it.

For the last several years I no longer participate in any of the social media group sites devoted to prepping or survivalism. Frankly, I’ve lived this lifestyle for a lifetime and have a rather diverse skill set when it comes to prepping and survivalism. I came to realize that within those sites I was seldom finding what I considered “good ideas”, instead I was listening to the bickering and ugliness. Only SurvivalBlog has remained. It, along with online news [from select sites] is the first thing I turn to in the morning…with my morning coffee of course. With SurvivalBlog not a year has gone by that I am not thankful, receiving numerous blessings in the form of ideas or encouragement that I can use. A side note: This was the first year that I felt I was able to afford the  SurvivalBlog memory stick archive…to all that have contributed articles to SurvivalBlog over the past 19 years, I want to let you know that I am thankful.

Another point I would make is that if you are a new or fledgling prepper/survivalist [or just a well-prepared family] there seems to always be more than one way to do things. Different ways to accomplish a task, meet a need…or complete the mission. Everyone’s situation is different, their income and available discretionary spending monies differ. Whether one chooses to obtain the more expensive Motorolas versus the Baofeng HTs…or the Kenwoods that fall somewhere in the middle, they are working toward meeting their communication needs. Their geography and their USDA growing climatic conditions are different. Their background, education, and life experiences are different. Don’t become discouraged because someone insists that the newer digital radios instead of the older analog radios are the only way to go. Don’t become disillusioned because you can’t devote $500 a month to buckets of freeze-dried foods as someone suggests.

Ours is a journey and a lifestyle. One of the most important tasks of new preppers is preparing and teaching our children these life lessons so they will not have to start from scratch. These were lessons and practices that we should have never moved away from, but society implied that the successful person or family should move to the city, or only obtain their food from the grocery store…and these days that our food should be already prepared, pre-packaged, and delivered by someone from DoorDash.

To make my point, in certain more advanced areas of the military…areas and/or schools that are particularly challenging, there are always those that drop out…thus returning to their original units. To be blunt, they quit! There are many reasons, but the bottom line… to use the military term, they “ring out”. As a fledgling prepper always keep in mind that in almost all cases there is always more than one way to do things, more than one approach, more than one brand. My late father was the epitome of finding another way to do things…of not quitting. If you are blocked from buying an item…can you build it? Can you build the wood lathe from scratch? Can you barter your work for the pair of breeding sheep? Can you share pasture with a neighbor? I am saying that we must find ways to achieve the goal or complete the task. If we cannot do this during relative times of civility, how do we expect to do this during complete anarchy?

We must not quit or become discouraged by others…especially those who insist that theirs is the only way to do things. Many of us here are approaching the end of our prepping or survivalist journey. Likewise, many of us who have taken this path hope that we have imparted some of our limited wisdom to others. I encourage young families to watch for similar or like-minded persons in their area. Those of us moving into further advanced age…well, you may find opportunity…if for no other reason than your combined talents may support each other if SHTF actually happens. As an opinion, it appears such a cataclysmic event may be far closer than I have ever seen in my lifetime.

If TEOTWAWKI occurs, then we each must be resilient. The most prepared family will not survive if they are not creative. They will not survive if they cannot [or will not] seek other ways to approach a problem. They will not survive if they cannot reach inside themselves to find the strength to persevere. If you learn only this one principle from prepping… don’t quit, don’t ring out! Your family and your community depend upon you.
Lastly, it is my hope that you have placed your trust in Yeshua, the Christ. It is said that there are no atheists in a foxhole. Something I very much believe. In a world of complete anarchy, I profoundly believe that one’s belief and trust in God will be important to keep going in total chaos and to keep our sanity. Possibly even more importantly, such conviction will likely be needed to retain our own humanity.