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Monday, April 07, 2008

The New Face of Survivalism

The New York Times writes that survivalism is not just for paranoid loner anarchists anymore. It seems that survivalism is seeing a rise in popularity among "normal" suburbanites and/or non-extremists.

Here's the first paragraph of the survivalism entry in Wikipedia:

Survivalism is a commonly used (and often mis-used) term for the preparedness strategy and subculture of individuals or groups anticipating and making preparations for future possible disruptions in local, regional or worldwide social or political order. Survivalists often prepare for this anticipated disruption by learning skills (e.g., emergency medical training), stockpiling food and water, preparing for self-defense and self-sufficiency, and/or building structures that will help them to survive or "disappear" (e.g., a survival retreat or underground shelter).

Survivalism has seen popularity during the Cold War era (nuclear holocaust fears) and more recently during the Y2K "scare." (I was never that scared of Y2K anyways.) The article says that these days, the renewed interest in survivalism has been sparked by credit crises, housing bubble, economic woes, oil prices, and/or looming environment disasters.

So why am I writing about this? Because I found it quite interesting that, to a small extent, (it feels a bit silly to admit this) the JunkFamily has given more than a few thoughts towards Survivalism Lite. It should probably be Survivalism Ultra Lite, since we are still on the grid in many, if not all areas where it's possible to be off the grid and self-sufficient.

Lately, both of us have given thought to how we would manage if some event were to occur that would render us without power, or shut us in our homes. Our garden would be the biggest help. We hope to eventually be able to sustain our vegetable needs from our garden alone. Although much of our canned food is not ready-to-eat meals, they are still edible nonetheless; things like canned tomatoes and green beans. You'd usually not eat these by themselves, but if some crisis were to happen, sustenance is sustenance.

All this talk of food, but I think water would be the most important thing. We had a couple of bulk packages of bottled water in the garage, but I think we used them up, since they had dates of 3/2008. In a doomsday scenario, I believe it would be water, and not gold or silver, that would be most valued as a barter item. The average person can survive weeks without food, but only days without water. Plus the fact that we can use water to cook, clean wounds, etc...

Also included in some of our silly doomsday planning is a knowledge of herbal remedies. We are growing a number of historically medicinal herbs in our backyard. These include rosemary, lavender, thyme. We also have lots of garlic, which is something of a silver bullet, being anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. Read about garlic at World's Healthiest Foods. They say that garlic is helpful against colds, flu, and stomach viruses. Stomach viruses are never a nice experience; stomach viruses during an apocalypse must be much worse ;) Honey is purportedly anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. Read about honey here. Both of honey and garlic keep well, giving them extra pluses.

I must admit that when I get a bad scrape or am feeling sick, garlic, honey, and herbs are not the first things I reach for. However, if you are running low on pharmaceutical medicine, are running low on water, and can't get to a doctor, a minor scrape could turn into an infection, which could turn deadly serious. In that case, you should use the non-pharmaceutical remedies as preventative measures against every little scrape that you get.

If not for the NYT article, I probably wouldn't have written this blog post, since I felt silly writing about the measures that we take. We can't be the only ones who have thought about these things. So now's the time to confess: Have you ever considered these types of situations, and what measures do you have in place?

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2 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Harmony

    "“I now think of storing extra food, water, medicine and gasoline in the same way I think of buying health insurance and putting money in my 401k,” she said. “It just makes sense.”"

    That's sort of how I look at it. I do these things so that we can be responsible for ourselves, not because I'm terrified of some sort of collapse of civilization. I don't want to have to rely on the government or the mega companies to hand me everything I need for life. That's irresponsible.

    What responsible people do is prepare for the worst before the worst actually happens. When you look at it from a financial standpoint, it doesn't seem crazy at all. That's why financial experts urge people to have emergency funds and long-term savings. I guess I just don't see 'survivalism' as being much different. Whether we're setting aside money or canning our garden produce and saving seeds, either way we're just taking responsible precautions.

    And you must admit, 200 years ago that's the way nearly everyone lived. You made provisions in the summer (preserving food, chopping firewood, making blankets and warm clothing, patching the drafty holes in the walls, etc) so that you would be able to survive the coming winter. I wonder why these days that's considered ridiculous?

  • Ginny

    I agree, Harmony. It is just the way I live. I don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about some future disaster. I just do this, because I like it and it makes sense to me. :-D