If you are reading this, you are a member of a relatively small, unique group of people. You have pulled your head from the sand and are no longer blinded by Normalcy Bias: the belief that tomorrow will be like any other day, week after week, year after year. You see the signs and know that the relative tranquility we have enjoyed won’t last. You feel deeply that preparation is essential; you want to live.
There are a lucky few, with a stone castle and moat high in a mountain retreat, who clutch their custom AR-15s to their chest while watching for the sky to fall. However, most of us get up and go to work every day, grateful to make it home to put another day to bed. We know we need to do more to prepare, but how?
I am in awe of the vast knowledge base in the prepper community. Never have people been so creative and inventive, open sourcing their ideas to help others. Personally, I marvel at the ingenuity shown toward self-reliance. However, being prepared is more than having a ready bug-out bag and a tricked out emergency escape vehicle.
If we take history as our instructor, we will clearly learn the simple fact that in times of upheaval, war, or crisis mobility is life. Instinctively we know this as naturally as breathing. In the aftermath of every natural disaster in modern history, the survivors are those who moved first, moved the fastest, and went the furthest from the epicenter of the problem. Without belaboring the issue with all of the possible threats to our way of life as we know it, preparation for survival can be simple. The Readiness Matrix takes into account the critical need for mobility and allows each individual to evaluate their readiness a single level at a time. Anyone can simplify their readiness understanding and survival priorities to better themselves and help others.
The Naked Self: This is the first level, of seven levels, with which to evaluate your readiness. Step out of the shower and take a good look in the mirror. What you see is the first and last resource to keep you and yours alive, safe, and happy. No gear, no gizmos, no handbooks, or hardware can surpass the importance of your personal knowledge, spirit, and attitude. Cultivate your knowledge and positive attitude, and share them with others. Nobody thrives alone. Life is a group activity.
The Running Man: When the ground starts to shake, the sky starts to fall, and you start running, what you have in your pockets or purses becomes your only physical resource. From this point of view, the guy with a Leatherman tool on his belt is king. A woman with a big handbag can have a treasure trove of goodies to save the day. Think about it; a smart phone, pocket knife, and lighter that you can carry in your pockets could be salvation in any number of scenarios. Even with no cellular phone service, my smart phone contains maps, a compass, and a flash light with a signal strobe. Like I said before, survival can be determined by the simplest of things on the most basic levels of preparation.
A Foot: With boots, or feet, on the ground, what you can carry on your back is your test. As the levels of the readiness matrix become more complex, allowing for more gear and gadgets, everybody has a list of critical supplies to have on hand or in a bug-out bag. I’m a gadget guy and have to have two of everything, but my intent is not to tell you what you need. I will say this level of readiness requires individual commitment. A thoughtful selection of gear, good physical fitness, and really good shoes are essential. The details are up to you. At the end of the day, the question at this level is: Can I really afford to carry this? You can never carry everything you might ever need or all the food you can eat. The key is to prioritize, simplify, and make a mean and lean mobile machine.
The Biker Gang: The natural progression in readiness is the inclusion of the group– your very own gang. In preceding levels, the focus has been on the individual. As your mobility increases, it is comforting and useful to have your gang of trusted friends and family around. This is where group planning and readiness becomes important. A family or small group trying to move on foot can cover up to fifteen miles a day, provided they are not carrying a refrigerator. The same family on bicycles can travel a hundred miles. Bicycles outfitted with a trailer or saddle bags can cover that hundred miles and double the amount of supplies to support your relocation. In most survival scenarios, speed and distance is critical. Mobility at this level may not be just on bicycles. Many people live on or near water, so travel by boat or raft may be needed. Other folks have access to horses or pack animals (llamas, goats, burros, or mules). When roads are impassible, there is no better time to be familiar with Mr. Ed. Again, I stress the need to evaluate you and your gang’s readiness by level, keeping each level as simple as possible, but the specifics are up to you.
Emergency Evacuation Vehicle (EEV): This is the level of readiness that gets the gear guys all spun up out of control. Emergency evacuation vehicles can be lifesaving and life changing. Not only can a motorized vehicle be a distance and load multiplier, it can also be a symbol of hope. I sleep on the ground more than my share of days every year, and I cook my meals in a tin cup while enjoying the wilderness. So the idea of having the comparative luxury and convenience of an RV in a crisis would put a big smile on my face. I caution those who go whole-hog with putting together their escape vehicle and neglect the far more important levels of the readiness matrix. Chances are that freak circumstances will neutralize your best engineered plans, if you put all your effort into escaping in a vehicle. The point is, when you are prepared at every level, give yourself options and flexibility to fall back, re-group, and be able to push ahead.
The Homestead: The next levels of the readiness matrix may seem to go against the mobility doctrine. The Homestead or sheltering-in-place may be the only best option in some circumstances. Circling the wagons can be extremely dangerous in heavily populated areas or for long periods of time. Nobody has enough ammo to defend a homestead in a major population center. The upside to circling the wagons is that you will have the home field advantage and those familiar surroundings can help improve the worst circumstances. Many people may choose to make a stand, no matter the circumstances, as long as they die on their own ground. I can appreciate the sentiment, although futile. If you want to live, mobility is life. That being said, your home or your castle can give you and yours hope. It has been said “Man can live for forty days without food, three days without water, five minutes without air but only for one second without hope.”
The Compound: The last level of readiness– the compound– in some ways is self-explanatory. Imagine a group of like-minded motivated people, on defensible ground, sharing resources, labor, and social structure. The idea almost makes me want to stop and sing Kumbaya. Really, if you and yours have evolved to this level, you may survive just about any end-of-days scenario. Sure, you have to be ready for drama within the group or becoming the target of the authorities, but you will survive and thrive. That is the goal. I understand that as each level increases in complexity, the relative monetary costs rise. Not everyone can afford to go out and buy an RV or build a castle. Do what you can do, and do it well.
We all hope to preserve our life, liberty, and our ability to pursue happiness, in spite of the crazy world and the signs of collapse, but how do you start and how do you determine if you are ready? The seven levels of the Readiness Matrix can help anyone evaluate priorities and simplify their understanding of the process of surviving and thriving. Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Start with the simple before moving to the complex. Don’t build the super swamp buggy before you expand your knowledge and adjust your attitude. One last thing: Surviving and thriving is a group effort; you are only as good as your team. One well-prepared person can help several along; a prepared group can withstand almost anything. Two and a half thousand years ago, the great general Sun Tzu said, “Confront them with annihilation, and they will survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory.” I would that it could be said of us.