There are a lot of things to keep in mind when considering the “prepper” lifestyle, for it is just that – a lifestyle. In order to be successful, to have what you need and to gain the knowledge and skill set that will help you survive in the event of a catastrophe, survival must be always present, hovering around the perimeter of your brain in every situation because there is no way of knowing if or when you may need to fend for yourself.
You have to be prepared not only with amenities but with know-how because amenities are only a short-term solution to survival. You have to know how to take care of yourself and your family, after the canned food and batteries run out, when things take a turn for the worse and supplies get lean.
First, it is important to be on the lookout for new information. If you are presented with an opportunity to learn a new skill, you should pursue it because the more you know, the better off you’ll be if you find yourself in a long-term emergency situation. Learn how to hunt, fish, grow crops, build shelters, make soap and mend clothing. Learn how to can fresh vegetables and make jerky – freezers may not always be available. Learn first aid and natural remedies for common illnesses because there won’t always be a doctor to write you a prescription or a Walgreens to fill it. A common cold could mean death in a survival situation.
Learn how to defend yourself and your family in any sort of hostile encounter whether it be hand-to-hand, knife-to-knife, or gun-to-gun. Learn how to make a weapon out of anything. Learn the difference between harmful and beneficial vegetation, learn to track animals (and people) – there is no end to the kind of knowledge that may be helpful and the best thing you can do for yourself in terms of extended survival is to stay ahead of the pack. Know more than everyone else.
Second, I find it helpful to view this lifestyle as a kind of hobby rather than a duty or a task or anything else that I have to do. It can be a lot of fun, especially if you do it together with friends and family, testing your skills against each other – iron sharpens iron and all that. It also eases the nagging anxiety that you may have about the potential need for these skills. You can share new information with each other, teach each other and learn from each other. Go on camping trips without store-bought amenities and see how efficiently you can get through a weekend.
Of course, when the time comes to put to use all of the expertise you have gained through living the “prepper” lifestyle, it won’t be all fun and games and “what-ifs.” Your life will depend on it and so will the lives of anyone you are responsible for, i.e. children, spouses, parents, siblings, etc. Having knowledge won’t be enough. Hunting, growing crops, building shelters are all very important things to know and understand, but bear in mind there will be a whole lot of people who are not prepared. There will be many people who are lost, people who go hungry, and without knowing how to take care of themselves, they will invariably resort to theft and violence (as demonstrated in every hurricane, earthquake, tsunami and other disaster that I can think of). Along with the knowledge of rebuilding a life for yourself and your loved ones, you have to have both the means, the ability, and the willingness to defend what is yours.
I’m not talking about one petty thief, I’m talking about cities full of people who are absolutely clueless when it comes to living without the convenience of a Walmart. I’m talking about people eating rats and garbage to stay alive. I’m talking about extreme desperation. And the only thing standing between you and extreme desperation is your willingness to defend whatever you have to in order to keep food in the mouths of your family members. That is not to say that you may not choose to help others, but I urge you to consider the picture that I am trying to illustrate here. Compassion will only go so far before you become a target. It will be important, in that time of upheaval, for people to know that you are not someone to be taken advantage of, that you will defend your life and your property to the bitter end, come what may.
These are not pleasant things to think of. I know that, and I don’t relish the idea of social and economic upheaval. I think that getting past all of the tips and tricks and lists that go along with learning the lifestyle of preparedness, getting down to the bare bones of it all, the absolute most important thing to be armed with in a time of crisis is the determination to survive. That is what it means to have a mindset of preparedness — having the ardent resolve to be the last man standing.