Orwell was onto something. Redefine a word and you eliminate an idea. “Survivalist” was a perfectly acceptable word. To “survive” implies “not prone to die easily”. Where’s the nobility in dropping like flies? Who has a problem with surviving?
Well, one group has a problem with it. People who’d rather lord over a populace of weaklings find themselves by definition at loggerheads with survivalists. They fired up their pet press and went to work until intentional wordsmithing had redefined “survivalist”. Now it brings to mind tinfoil hatted paranoids plotting mayhem in their parent’s basement. In a world where there are real threats I think it’s stupid to invent pretend ones but that’s why I’m not electable or employed by the press. By now, “easily defeated” is treated as a noble trait and personal duty by people who otherwise look like adults. I call bullshit. Who the hell thinks “surviving” is bad and why would we listen to them?
Also “prepper”, the replacement word, sounds like the brand name for baby wipes. A truly unfortunate word.
At any rate I’d like to point out that “survivalist” in a connotation completely devoid of politics is still a generally positive idea that may pay off in a totally mundane way. It doesn’t take a zombie apocalypse; it just takes normal life.
Here are two “small ball”, non-paranoid, utterly uncool, survivalist successes. I hope to illustrate that even in the absence of Ebola laden politicians from hell dropping nuclear fallout on my backyard… being prepared (as the Boy Scouts knew) is a good idea.
Like everything, the price of ammo has gone through the roof.* Something happened in oh, I don’t know when exactly…. lets just say it all started around the time of an unspecified event in the fall of 2008. I’m not saying what the hell happened, maybe it was space rays or bad guacamole that struck the nation en masse…
Ammunition, formerly an unexciting manufactured commodity made of brass, copper, powder, and lead… became far more expensive than market forces would imply. I don’t buy the gold plated investment grade bullshit that ammunition is somehow suddenly made of unobtanium. The price spiked due to unspecified events right around November 2008 and/or a reaction to it that was widespread and honestly felt. (Also, if I hear any horse shit about “hoarding” in the comments I’ll strike it. Americans are free citizens. They can buy whatever the hell they can afford and do whatever the hell they want with it… including amassing great piles and lying on it like Scrooge McDuck. “Hoarding” is a word coined by the economically illiterate to define a situation where people do something with their money that doesn’t meet with their approval.)
Anyway it’s not rocket science to make the stuff so it should (and hopefully will once again) cost about the price of raw materials (which also soared) plus the cost of manufacture and a reasonable profit. Economics are math and math always wins.
At any rate, I never cared because I’ve been too busy breaking tractors to spend much time at the range. It just wasn’t part of my reality. Until last week…
I had a hankerin’ to sight in a .22 and maybe hammer a bunch of tin cans until they cried for mercy. It dawned on me that a brick of .22 is harder to acquire than a nude supermodel holding a McRib. What the hell?
Being a guy who doesn’t shop if I can avoid it (and I’m good at avoiding it), I naively stopped at a few sporting goods stores for the first time in a long while. I learned what you’ve all known for years. A box of .22 is rarer than the Ebola vaccine. Also everyone at every store is royally pissed off about it. Imagine that; nearly 100% hatred right to the core. If I’d have been in power (which is something I studiously avoid) I’d never had stomped on toes like that. What kind of jackoff thinking is it to pick one group and get them riled up like rabid hornets? Here’s a hint. If people hate you because of what you’ve done, and they’re otherwise studiously law abiding (possibly even boring) people, you’ve done wrong. I let them vent because it seemed therapeutic. Then I skedaddled back to my homestead.
What’s a survivalist to do? Nothing. The die was already cast and, of course, I was already prepared. Duh! I just dug around on my shelves and found enough tin can puncturing goodness to tide me over. Why not?
This is where the rubber meets the road of survivalism. I didn’t have to do anything.
Without options I’d be more likely to internalize the bullshit. I, like many, would be prone to anger over such a crappy situation. A shortage of .22, like a shortage of coffee, bacon, or oxygen, clearly indicates humanity is on the ropes. When small game season comes, you need ammo or you’ve let the squirrels off the hook. Since when are Americans logistically incapable of shooting a freakin’ squirrel? Only politics could give a damn rodent the upper hand!
I could burn too much cash. I could get on e-bay and sell my left nut for a pack of “match grade” bespoke gold plated squirrel rounds. I could wait in line at dawn like a strung out groupie hoping to score on the next shipment to Wal-Mart.
Nope! I didn’t have to do any of that. I simply turned to my own resources. That’s why you maintain your own resources… to avoid buying match grade ammo to shoot a tin can.
I spent the afternoon popping tin cans and having a grand time. I can afford patience while waiting for the world to turn sane again. No need to sweat the small stuff. That’s the whole point of preparedness.
2. Major illness:
One day, long ago, it dawned on me that I’d been feeling under the weather in unspecified ways for far too long. I looked in the mirror and said “if I was a used car, nobody would buy me”. It’s wise thinking to look reality in the face and react to what is and not what we wish was true. Reality was, I needed to do some damn sit ups. “Fuck this, I’m going to get in shape” I muttered.
That’s precisely what I did. The process was hard earned but deeply fulfilling; feeling like shit sucks and feeling healthy is better. No question about it.
Gradually, with much effort and a few setbacks, I got in shape. The exterior is still as ugly as ever but the inner workings, muscle, lungs, etc… are in decent condition. I’m happy with that. Just as I don’t care if my truck has a dent but I’ll carefully keep the fuel pump in top condition, so too I’ve maintained myself. At least reasonably so. To do otherwise is trusting to fate and good luck. Is it not “survivalist” to minimize trusting to luck?
So what? Here’s the second part; a few years after looking into the mirror and getting serious about working out, shit got real. With no warning and I had a sudden medical event (which I won’t specify at this time). It wasn’t lung cancer bad and I’m not complaining. Others have faced far worse. Yet for me, it was a big honkin’ deal. I’m proud to say I got to the emergency room under my own power but that’s about all I could manage. In serious pain I addressed the surgeon (or doctor… I was hazy by then). “Get ‘er done doc!” Then I quit worrying.
Sometime the next day I was unceremoniously kicked out the hospital door feeling like a pincushion that had been hit by a train. What’s a survivalist to do? Recover. Duh!
I recovered fairly quickly. Did I recover so easily because I’m lucky and my doctor was a miracle worker? Maybe. Was modern medicine great? Certainly! Still, I get some credit for stacking the deck in my favor. As a “survivalist” (or “prepper” if you wish) I had a reasonable bank of “health” upon which to draw. Physical duress, no matter who you are, is tough. It’s less tough if you are in reasonable overall shape before you take a hit. I was in decent fighting trim when external factors pole-axed my ass and it made a difference.
That too is “survivalism”. It paid off in the mundane. It didn’t take an earthquake/hyperinflation/bubonic plague/EMP pulse/bacon shortage. Life tends to surprise you in it’s own way and on its own schedule. In these cases it was nothing terrible on a large scale but I skipped around personal difficulties more or less without drama. I’d banked a little “luck”.
I’ll get off my soapbox now. All I wanted to say was that shooting tin cans on a sunny afternoon and a speedy recovery from injury aren’t flashy or exciting but they’re nicer than the opposite. We all play an unknowable but significant role in our own fate. Anyone who tells you different is out to drag you down and boss you around. Rise above.
* The press and government stats report no (or minimal) inflation. Yet the cost of everything from Spam to screws went up in a way that looks exactly like inflation and was timed exactly as one might have expected during certain events right around late 2008 and early 2009. Math works like that. It doesn’t much care your opinion. I don’t expect the press to address the difference between what they say and what is, until and unless the party in power changes. Here’s a hint, if December 2016 rolls around and the press is still blowing sunshine up your ass… you know the stupid party once again managed to snatch defeat from the hands of victory. (They’re good at it!) If it suddenly dawns on the press that inflation sucks and America has more debt than ever before amassed in the history of mankind (which is a true statement… say it a few times to yourself and remember that math never loses), you’ll know the evil party played its hand all the way to its logical conclusion.