After a Disaster, Who Will You Be?
I really appreciated reading the comments and feedback last week on “Charity vs. Self Preservation.” It was very interesting to see how people aligned in their desire to be prepared for upcoming disasters had such different views. If you didn’t get a chance to read the article or the comments, I’ll put a link at the end of this article…it’ll be worth your time.
Humans are amazing beings. We are all unique in our appearance, how our minds work, the skills that we’re naturally good at, our personalities, how we learn, and what tasks bring us happiness.
Awhile back, I was driving home from spending a couple nights out in the woods practicing survival skills. Dr. Dean Edell was on the radio and happened to be the most interesting thing on the dial. I don’t know much about him…whether he’s generally on the mark or if he’s out in left field.
That particular day, he was talking about hunter/gatherers and farmers/gardeners, how different their personalities are, and how differently they’re built. He talked about how the activity of hunting rewarded people who had a heightened sense of awareness of their surroundings and does not reward people who are able to go on auto-pilot and “zone out.” This is good not only for spotting movement of prey, but also for detecting nearby predators. It also rewards people willing to explore different areas and take physical risks.
Farming and gardening, on the other hand, reward a different set of traits…namely the ability to do many of the same things on a regular basis. You may be able to get away with only going hunting once a week, but if you stop watering, weeding, and checking on your garden for a week, you’re likely to get smaller yields. They get joy out of nurturing and tending to their garden, knowing it, and watching it grow.
Of course, people who are master gardeners can also hunt and vise versa, but usually people are better at one than the other.
Dr. Edell took this idea a step further by talking about methods of learning and risk tolerance. Specifically, he talked about how many entrepreneurs dropped out of school, didn’t do well in school, and how the majority had been diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder of some sort or another. In reality, they were just “hunters” who’s attention flits from one thing to another in an educational system designed for “gardeners” who can focus on the same thing for long periods of time.
Obviously neither personality type is better than the other. They’re different and the world needs both to function smoothly. I am a hard driving hunter/entrepreneur who craves new challenges and school drove me nuts, but I’m very happy that there are people in the world who are more nurturing, and detail oriented than I am and who find comfort in doing the same thing every day.
What’s all this have to do with preparedness? A lot, actually. For the most part, if you are talking to someone about preparedness, they’re going to emphasize the importance of the particular facet of preparedness that they’re best at. Are you a gardener? You’ll probably place an emphasis on how important gardening would be during a long term survival situation. Are you a hunter and/or fighter? You’ll probably place an emphasis on hunting and protecting. Are you a counselor/minister? Are you a cook? Are you a medical professional? You get the idea. For a short period of time, someone with any one of these specialties could survive or even excel, but to truly build stable micro environments after disasters, it takes communities of people with different strengths. And this is true whether you are considering a post-disaster situation in an urban area or a rural area.
Because of my previous training and life experiences, I’ve got an abundance of tactical and me-against-the-world training in both urban and wilderness situations. There is a completely different approach that you may be interested to hear about. A friend of mine told me about a preparedness conference that happened in Austin TX last weekend. Actually, the training started last Monday and is still going. About 200 people spent between 8 and 60 hours getting CERT trained (Community Emergency Response Team) and CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) trained and some are spending another day getting trained to teach CISM.
The organization that sponsored all of this is the Austin Disaster Relief Network. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re quickly getting known around the country as THE example of how local disaster preparedness is supposed to work. Besides these trainings, either their people or members of churches they’re working with have also gone through training to run shelters, cook up to 20,000 meals per day, tarp roofs and run post-disaster childcare. The Baptists even have chain saw crews trained and ready to go out and clear downed trees. They purposely leave out tactical responses to lethal force encounters so that people who abhor violence in any form will have a vehicle to use to get prepared. They emphasize the number of complete strangers that they can support after a disaster as much or more so than how long their family can survive. If you’d like to do something similar in your area, shoot me an email and let me know.
Again, what’s this have to do with you? Well, the reason that I’ve brought up this topic in the past and am bringing it up today is because there is no one-size-fits-all survival plan. It’s the whole idea that the body is made up of many parts and functions best when all are present and functional.
There are people involved in preparedness who are willing to use any and all force necessary to protect their supplies and there are people who would rather die than turn away someone in need. In last week’s newsletter, people on both sides of the spectrum gave intelligent, well thought out reasons for their decisions on this matter. If you think it’s a Christian/non-Christian issue, you’re mistaken. There are strong Biblical arguments on both sides of the issue and I believe that the same God could give two neighbors completely different guidance and both could be correct. The charitable neighbor could show the love of God to several people in the early stages of a disaster and God could suddenly change the heart of the 2nd neighbor when the first neighbor runs out of food. During the whole time, the 2nd neighbor could watch over and provide cover for the first neighbor from wolves seeking to take advantage of him.
If you’ve been following me for very long, you know that I lean towards practicing operational security and protecting what you’ve got stored rather than advertising your home as the place to go. I firmly believe that it’s easier to start out with a protect and defend stance and later decide to be generous than to start out being generous and try to switch to a protect and defend stance. But at the same time, I’m very glad that not everyone’s like me. There’s room for both camps and both sides can learn a lot from the other.
I want to encourage you to think about preparedness through YOUR particular lens. As an example, almost every preparedness “expert” says that you’ve got to have a garden and that you need to be good with a gun and hand to hand skills. I agree that these are vital skills to know, but they may not be the areas that you naturally excel in. I garden but I am not a particularly good gardener and I have a love/hate relationship with it. I have the supplies to garden after a long term disaster, but if I have to garden to survive, it’s not going to be pretty.
I’m counting on giving my seeds and supplies to someone who’s good at gardening and who actually enjoys it. I can provide security, help them market their produce, or do something else for them that they need and that I’m good at and enjoy. They’ll be able to produce more food in less time with less frustration and actually enjoy what they’re doing while I do something in return that is frustrating for them but that I enjoy and excel at.
One of my favorite examples of this is Special Forces “A” teams. In an A team, you’ve got a group of highly trained guys who are all cross-trained in each other’s disciplines, but when things get tough, they rely on their specialists. How do they break things up? Here’s a brief example:
18 Alpha — The officer of the group.
18 Bravo — Weapons sergeant who specializes in weapons and tactics.
18 Charlie — Engineer who is trained to build structures and blow them up.
18 Delta — Medics who are trained to be able to handle trauma in the field and set up 1-man hospitals in remote villages and work on people as well as every kind of animal they might run into.
18 Echo — Communications guy who makes sure that the unit can communicate with each other and Batallian as well as setting up communications networks for locals.
18 Fox — The intel specialist who collects, analyzes, and forwards intelligence and the head guy for interrogations and debriefings.
18 Zulu — Runs the team and recruits locals.
Again, everyone in this group is cross trained, but specializes as well. The medic may have a passion for saving lives, but he is also highly proficient at eliminating lethal force threats as efficiently as possible.
After a disaster, you’ll want to be able to do something similar…ideally you’ll want to be a jack of all trades and a master of one. (Not “none” as has often been misquoted) Maybe your passion will be cooking up big pots of beans and rice, manning a radio communications center, counseling and debriefing. In other words, just because you don’t have a big arsenol and a lifetime of training doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to be a vital part of the group that stabilizes your area.
There is a movie playing in many people’s minds that after a economic collapse or breakdown in civil order after a disaster, life will be a continual war zone…and it might be. But not everyone will be fighting…and even if everyone is fighting, it will only be for a time and people will have to get busy living life between spurts of violence. I’ve talked with lots of guys coming back from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia who told stories about being in the middle of a firefight in a built up area only to see someone walk across the road between them and the enemy with produce or their goat. In other words, no matter what level of breakdown, life goes on. People trade and barter, people specialize, and people seek some form of regular day-to-day life, even though it might get interrupted by extreme violence on a regular basis.
What about you? Are there any stereotypical survival/preparedness skills that you know you need to learn and know how to do, but wouldn’t be the best use of your time in a survival situation? If so, have you figured out something that you could provide in exchange for someone else helping you in that area? What areas do you think are essential, no matter what your skillset?
I included my list of essential skillsets and required knowledge for surviving breakdowns in civil order, as well as some areas where you might want to specialize and strategies for finding other like minded people after economic collapse or other disasters in the www.SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course. Many preparedness groups around the country have called it “required reading” for their members. Career military and law enforcement personnel have said that it was the best book they’d read compiling a lifetime of disaster preparedness into an easy to follow course. If you haven’t gone through it yet, please check it out by going to www.SurviveInPlace.com.
Also, I’ve got a comment and a question over on the forum on how to keep temperatures stable when you live in a climate where there are large fluctuations in temperature. To read more, go to: http://secretsofurbansurvival.com/showthread.php?52-Storing-food-in-extreme-climates.&p=8205
Until next week, God bless and stay safe!
P.S. Here’s the link to last week’s article on “Charity vs. Self-Preservation.” I’d suggest reading the article to get the context of the conversation, but the real meat is in the comments at the end: http://secretsofurbansurvival.com/969/charity-or-self-preservation-after-a/