Much has been written on The Blog concerning the 4 G’s, getting right with God, Ground, Grub and Guns. I believe that another “G” exists for most, if not all, of us and that is “Group”. The family unit is the original group and the most basic. This is not to say that individuals cannot go it alone. Man, however, is a social creature and survives best (biology aside) with others.
We have faced the challenge of preparedness as a family. The issues are, of course, the same as for anyone like-minded. Most issues have to do with mind-set, some with tangibles.
For us the challenge is essentially a two-edged sword. On what could be considered the downside, we have to take care of the whole family. There is the added responsibility for the other family members, especially those too young to accept adult responsibilities or too old to accomplish strenuous activities or other challenges. Additional supplies must be laid in to account for all. Ours is a large family, 9 children at home, age 6 to 23 years. All efforts must be multiplied accordingly, then each member’s specific needs considered. Are there individual health problems? Will physical size matter for whatever is at hand? Which of the family members cannot reliably handle such things as weapons, driving, etc? Do some members actually require a significant effort spent on their behalf to survive?
The upside to a (large) family is division of activities. The old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.” That is certainly true in our family, where responsibility is met fairly head-on. Because of this division of labor, we can actually accomplish multiple tasks concurrently and fairly efficiently. The head of the household, although ultimately responsible, cannot hope to “do it all” and must depend on others to share the responsibility. This not only unburdens the head, but also furthers maturity in the other family members; it gives them self-worth, for they are depended upon. Even the youngest and the elderly can be given tasks that fall within their capabilities, thus giving them the satisfaction of being a contributing member.
Being a family means that we all are in touch at least daily. Good communication is stressed. We try and avoid emotionally-charged “conversation” and instead share information. The former tends to create division, the latter one-mindedness (togetherness). Anger and hurt feelings can be dealt with in private with one or both parents, instead of being expressed publicly in a relationship-damaging manner. Openness and truthfulness are encouraged and expected. Venues which encourage communication are, for us, meal-times and prayer times. Occasionally, a family meeting is called. Actually, any time throughout the day is considered appropriate depending on the information or need. As both parents work at home, availability is rarely a problem.
Being a functional family doesn’t mean that we exclude others. It actually opens our hearts to include others, integrate them in and help them to feel a “belonging”. We have “adopted” many into our family; they know that they are always welcome. They can call, show up, or even stay any time they want or need. Most will either ask what to do or just chip in and help when they see a need. Others will come and hang around while this one or that one works; when that occurs they are usually handed something to do to allow them to feel needed. They all return to join us again.
We have adopted a simple team approach as our organizational model. The Team is us, or whoever is grouped together for a common goal (the Mission). A Team Leader is recognized and all of the rest are Team Members. The Team Leader is ultimately responsible for the Mission and the Team. The Team Leader is considered the “ultimate servant” for the Team, making certain that all needs are met and that the Mission proceeds. Each Team Member has skills and responsibilities on which the Team is dependent. If, for example, 4 family members go to the store for a particular purpose (mission), then a Team Leader is recognized for that situation and all act accordingly, usually by dividing the activity into manageable parts and accomplishing each. The beauty is that all function together without establishing rank, but still with a functioning head to guide the overall Mission. Each member of the Team is responsible for the other members. Sometimes we use a “buddy” system that pairs the oldest with the youngest, the next oldest with the next youngest, and so forth, to insure that all are accounted for and none left out or behind.
To further this team concept, we have divided areas of preparedness into individual teams. For example, we have a Resources Team that gathers information regarding provisions on hand and those needed. This Team has a Team Leader responsible for keeping the group goal-focused and reporting to the overall (family) Team Leader. Recommendations are made and information shared. We have 6 of these Teams that cover the areas necessary for us to become and remain prepared.
The Team practices Operational Security (OPSEC) at all times. There are neighbors, friends, and even relatives who would not understand what preparedness involves. The Team has no desire to exclude anyone; however, we do recognize that information shared even innocuously can be detrimental to the Mission and the Team. Even the 6 year old is taught to say “Dad is not available”, instead of “Dad is not here”. We try to put feelers out in conversations with others by asking, “Where do you think the country is headed in the next 5 years?” This approach generally reveals who we might discuss things further with and those we cannot.
What counters the effectiveness of the Team is undermining the Mission or the Team Leader, complaining, slacking duties, or avoidance of responsibility. We have found that the tongue is the single worst enemy of the Team. Using words to counter, control, demand, whine, or denigrate defocuses the individual and the group. The Mission has to be set aside to deal with rebellion, passivity, or other manifestations. The ramifications of “one bad apple” are farther reaching than one would suspect. The influence of corrupt speech on Team members is viral. The way we deal with it? First, we as a group recognize it for what it is and then deal with it accordingly. Usually, just bringing it to light is sufficient. Again, good communication is the key.
Likely, this sounds extremely militaristic; however, in the context of a family, it is not. Once we altered our mindset to one of cooperative sharing and recognized the need for a system whereby we could accomplish the most, it was easily the best system. The benefits are that the most is accomplished for the least effort, everyone feels worth-while and has a sense of belonging (even the 6 year old), and we all take care of each other. The foundation for our Team is God. We recognize God is love and we define love as the laying down of self for someone else. Selflessness defines the Team Leader, as well as the Team Members.
What’s next for those who have accomplished group organization (a Team)? All you do from here is buy the right stuff, get the right training, and stick together. Post-TEOTWAWKI, the Team will continue its basic functioning with a revised Mission. Whereas the pre- Mission is preparedness; the post- Mission is survival.