This is an honest attempt to put into writing the struggle my family and I have with the issues surrounding our involvement in survivalism and the potential of a societal collapse that may or may not occur within our lifetime. I am doing this because I tend to think more clearly if I put my thoughts into writing, and that forces me to be a bit more precise in my thinking. Additionally, perhaps others like me are struggling with the same life-changing decisions and may find my thoughts helpful.
Obviously, the first issue to deal with is whether or not I/we truly believe there is a very real possibility that the economic situation in our nation is so severe that the likelihood or probability of a true economic collapse simply must be considered as we plan for our family’s future. I am not speaking of an economic recession, like that of 2008, but of an event or series of events that will result in an economic collapse greater than that of the so-called “Great Depression” of the 1930’s. The reason for my pessimism concerning the magnitude of the potential collapse is due to several factors:
- The incredible size of our national debt, which at the moment (Spring of 2014) is quickly approaching 18 trillion dollars with no sign of any significant slowing.
- The current situation is clearly unsustainable, yet there appears to be a complete lack of will by our government to deal with our national debt and to curb our governmental spending, which currently is at a rate that requires our nation to borrow $.40 of each dollar we spend.
- The virtually unreported and unconsidered “Derivatives Bubble”, which, if it bursts, would require more money than exists in the world to “fix it”, is simply beyond repair now.
- The irresponsibility of the mainstream media or even cable media to forthrightly discuss the possibility of such a collapse (I believe because no one wants to be the first media outlet to issue a “sky is falling” prediction and be wrong about it) dis-enables our citizens to adequately consider or prepare for such a disaster. Also, our government wants everyone to believe that nothing is wrong at all and that life will go on as usual, even though they know that is not the case.
- The increasing inability of our culture to live independently from governmental support (Social Security, EBT cards, disability support, Medicare, Medicaid, and other welfare programs of various kinds) mitigates against planning to live independently as adults.
- The fact that only about 3.4 percent of our population actually knows how to farm, and even that group has become dependent on modern technology to live an agrarian lifestyle. This means that the ability to sustain the food supply to the 96.6 percent of Americans who live in urban areas, without significant food production capabilities of their own, would be placed in immediate jeopardy if the finely tuned, computer-controlled transportation system that brings food to them were to be disrupted for more than three days.
- Our culture’s deteriorating sense of ourselves as a nation (spurred on in part by the completely uninhibited illegal immigration of millions of Latin Americans and others who are flowing across our unsecured southern border) disenables us to act cohesively as a people for the common good.
- The complete lack of concern about the inflation of our national currency and the economic policies based on the Keynesian economic fantasy mitigate against addressing this concern in any realistic way.
- The increasing tendency of our national population to give up more and more personal freedom to an ever-increasing, centralized, federal government, without any seeming understanding of those values and principles that enabled this country to become prosperous in the first place, coupled with a public education system that no longer teaches these values and principles but is complicit in the general population’s capitulation to less and less personal freedom, has produced a population which is increasingly unable to see themselves as free, accountable people who do not view themselves as independent adults. We are virtually training (not educating) our children to be subservient to and dependent on the government!
This primary issue of whether or not an economic collapse will occur is the foundation for all that follows. If you believe the odds are in favor of the sustainability of the national and/or global economy, then we need do nothing and continue to live as we always have. If, on the other hand, you truly believe that our economy cannot be sustained, then everything we do from that point forward is of critical importance! To honestly believe that there will be a collapse and to do nothing to prepare our families for it would be the height of complete foolishness and irresponsibility. The often unspoken fear of survivalists is: What happens if we completely rearrange our lives only to discover that the collapse never occurs? I hope to address this question and others in this paper.
I would suggest the following principles in considering becoming a survivalist:
- Once a decision is made that you truly and honestly believe that an economic collapses will occur, then there is no going back. Either you’re all in, or you need to be all out! From the moment of decision on, you must plan on living on no income at all, except what you can generate by means of providing a service or product to others in a barter economy when the collapse comes.
- To adopt a survivalist lifestyle is to understand that whether or not a collapse occurs, you will be satisfied with the survivalist life you have chosen.
The second major issue in the consideration of being a survivalist is:
Shall we relocate to a retreat location in a rural area of the U.S., or shall be “bug in” where we live?
This is, by far, the most difficult decision of all for survivalists, but it is more difficult for some than for others. For my family we are fortunate to be retired, because that enables us not to be tied to employment for our livelihood. However, it also means giving up what we thought was our retirement home and adopting an unanticipated lifestyle. The downside of being seniors is that we are simply not as physically capable as we used to be. Rural, self-sufficient living is strenuous! Then again, life anywhere after a collapse will be strenuous! Generally, if you are young (20’s – 40’s), I would be far more willing to head for a new lifestyle than if I were older (50’s – 70’s). For those who are younger, make whatever sacrifices you have to make and just get it done if you are convinced that a collapse is inevitable. This means that if it is necessary to work at a different profession, then do what you have to do to achieve that end. You have the luxury of time and stamina to make that happen. If you are older, like me, then often your own health or that of your loved ones will dictate whether or not a move to a rural area is the wisest move for you. However, even seniors need to keep a few things in mind:
- Lots of older people still live in rural areas and have become comfortable with less shopping (or less frequent shopping) than urban residents enjoy.
- Lots of older people in rural areas are accepting of the inconvenience of longer trips to see the doctor and dentist. It’s a matter of mindset.
- Then there’s the more unpleasant reality of living in a rural setting. Emergency services cannot respond quickly in some rural areas. A long ambulance ride to a hospital an hour or more away can cost a lot of money, and sometimes it can cost you your life. Most older people living in rural areas simply accept that as a price they are willing to pay to live a rural life. Besides, in the event of a collapse, there won’t be any emergency services anywhere anyway. We will all be on our own and the death rate for illnesses and accidents will simply be higher. What’s more that will be true in both urban and rural areas. As a Christian man, I understand that the death rate has been holding steady at 100 percent since the beginning of time (with a few notable exceptions– Enoch and Elijah, for example). Regardless of where you live as a senior, you will likely die sooner in any post- collapse setting than younger people will. So be it! I do not fear death, but I’m not particularly looking forward to the process. That is true whether or not there is a societal collapse! Therefore, the possibility of dying is not a deterrent to living in a rural setting. In fact, it may save me from the indignity of dying in a nursing home. (In a collapse scenario, there will not likely be any functioning nursing homes anyway.) Regardless of whether or not my death comes to me a bit sooner or later really makes no significant difference. I belong to Jesus Christ, and I am very much looking forward to a life after this one. That will likely be even more true after a societal collapse!
What are some of the important considerations for selling a home and moving to a retreat?
- To sell your house now (while the economy is relatively stable and the housing market is better than it was in 2008-2010), will produce the most income for purchasing a new home, and having the resources to improve your preparedness at your retreat home.
- If you choose to “bug in” to your present urban home, you will need to understand that when the collapse comes, your neighbors are both a blessing and a curse. If you are one of the very few in your neighborhood who have prepared with stockpiling food and water, then it is quite possible that you will become a prime target of your otherwise friendly neighbors when they run out of their own essentials in about a week or two. If you bug in, keep your preparations very, very quiet, or you could have a line up of neighbors at your door begging or demanding your food, water, guns, and ammo, and you may well be placed in a situation of having to use lethal force against your own neighbors to keep your own family alive.
- If you choose to move to a rural retreat, the above scenario might still happen, but it is far less likely. First, they have to know where you are and how to get there, and then they will have to overcome whatever defenses you have prepared to secure your retreat. Second, such encounters are much less likely, not only because there are far fewer people in the area to threaten you, but rural people are far more likely to be more self-sufficient themselves and have no need of what you have. Moreover, in such an area you may well be able to establish a network of neighbors who are mutually self-sufficient, who can help support your efforts at provision and security. The likelihood of such cooperation occurring in an urban area is nearly non-existent over time.
- Most survivalist writers believe that lots of people in a societal collapse will “Double Up” with others for living arrangements. This means that family and friends will find themselves living together in expanded “family” structures to provide for security and share the increased workload. Those who plan for this have the advantage of being able to choose their expanded “family” members instead of just sitting back and seeing who ends up coming to your door without sufficient supplies for themselves.
- Other considerations respecting whether or not to have a “bug out” destination or to live in a rural retreat setting are as follows:
- Planning on traveling to a bug out location in the event of a societal collapse means that you have to find a way to safely get there. If this requires traveling through a metropolitan area of any kind, this could be a very dangerous trip because our urban areas will be the very first to see food riots, gangs operating at will in a Law Enforcement vacuum, and unscrupulous individuals setting up road blocks for the purpose of stealing others’ food and valuables. Law and order will very quickly break down!
- Living in a rural retreat setting enables you to stay home in the midst of the societal turmoil and to have the benefit of all your household goods, while even a well-stocked bug out location will require you to leave most of what you’ve acquired over your lifetime in the hands of looters. You will loose your home and all that is left in it. I fully admit that moving (especially if you’re a senior) is awful, but moving to a bug out location and abandoning your own home to looters is even worse!
- Travel to your bug out location may need to be on foot, if our nation is attacked by a high altitude Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), nuclear weaponry. There are rogue nations and terrorist organizations that would love to destroy this country and will do so if they can. An EMP would be the easiest possible way to destroy this country, since an EMP would destroy virtually all printed circuitry in our financial systems, our military, our vehicles, and literally anything electronic. In such an event, unless you own a pre-1975 vehicle, you will not be able to get to your bug out location where all your preparations are, and unless you’ve stockpiled gasoline, the gas stations will not work either.
- Your bug out location is a minimally-secured treasure of preparations for others to loot and steal. If your bug out location is left without someone present to guard it, no matter how many locks you put on the doors and how many bars you put on the windows, a determined thief will have no problem in your absence breaking an entry into your unguarded bug out location. Imagine going to all the effort to become well prepared only to arrive at your bug out location to discover that others have helped themselves to your property. Now, in that situation, you have abandoned your home and have no way to sustain yourself through the crisis.
In the end, one simply must decide if they believe that, given the evidence at hand, there will or will not be an economic collapse in this nation that will likely also be a global economic collapse as well. To disbelieve clear evidence simply because the ramifications of such a collapse are too unpleasant to contemplate is not a rational conclusion. In order to opt out of survivalism, one must honestly and with conviction weigh the evidence of our current economic situation and come to the conclusion that there really is nothing to fear. If that is the case, then no adjustment to life need be made.
However, if we honestly look at the economic situation and determine that what we observe us untenable and unsustainable, then inaction is nothing but foolishness. Also, while no one wants to experience a societal collapse with all the horror and hardship that comes with it, to believe it will happen but to do nothing is to be completely irresponsible for the welfare of our families and our nation. To paraphrase the argument from the gun rights folks: It is better to be prepared and not need it, than to need preparation and not have it.