Friday, January 30, 2015

Emergency! What do I do now?

Its an emergency... The s***t just hit the fan. You're facing a major crisis. Quick... What do you do now?

Follow the STOP plan: Stop. Think. Observe. Plan.

Stop. Don't panic. Stay calm. Don't get overly emotional. Take a few deep breathes. Maybe even sit down if you need to. What happened, happened.

Think. Take a moment or two to consider your situation. Are you in immediate danger (your house is own fire)? Or, are you in a more drawn-out sort of danger (the economy just collapsed)? You need to make rational, well-thought out, decisions at this point.

Observe. Look around. What is your situation. What are your immeadate threats? Near-term threats? Long-term threats? Take stock of what resources you have available (knowledge, skills, supplies, tools, people, money, etc.).

Plan. Decide how you are going to deal with the crisis. Make a plan, share your plan with others with you, and stick to the plan, making changes only in relation to changing circumstances. (Making unneeded or frequent changes only adds confusion and ensures that your group are NOT all on the same page.)

Depending on the circumstances, you may have only seconds to do the above. Or you may have hours, days, or even longer. Do the best you can do in the time you have. Thinking through possible scenarios ahead of time helps.

What are the priorities in any emergency?

1) Safety. Quickly remove yourself and others out of the path of immediate danger. If your house is on fire, your first priority is to get yourself and your family out of the house.

2) Address any serious medical concerns. Here is the basic order of concern for most injuries:
  1. Stop any major bleeding.
  2. Immobilize the neck/back if there is any possibility of injury to those regions.
  3. Treat shock, hypothermia, hyperthermia, and/or heart attack. 
  4. Treat dehydration.
  5. Treat broken bones (immobilize/splint).
  6. Treat lesser injuries.
Please take a good first aid & CPR course before an emergency hits! 

 3) Shelter from the elements. This may mean a formal shelter, a tent or other temporary shelter, or just warm clothes, rain gear, and/or blanket.

4) Water. Clean water is a must in any situation, emergency or not.

5) Food. Last on the list, and likely unimportant in the short run. You can go longer without food than anything else on this list.


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Improve your health, fitness & vitality

A closer look at point #6 of my Modern Victory Movement concept. Check out my Introduction to the Modern Victory Movement for an explanation of the concept.

MVM #6: Improve your Health Fitness, and Vitality

The ancient Greeks had a moral value called Menos. Very loosely translated it means "life, energy, vitality."  More than just good health, the value also embodied physical and spiritual fitness, and a certain vigor of life. Someone with menos is in excellent health, physically fit, mentally and emotionally fit, and highly energetic - ready and willing to enthusiastically take on life's challenges. The value of menos is one that I, particularly as a prepper and a believer in self-reliance, seek to build in my life. Of course, I have a ways to go yet.

Here is a list of basic rules to promote better health and fitness. Healthy living is a much more complex topic, of course, but this list makes a good starting point.

     1) Avoid smoking and/or abusing drugs or alcohol. This one should be obvious, but a lot of people fail to achieve this important step to improving their health.

     2) Get between 7 & 9 hours of sleep per night. I know plenty of people who claim to get by on six hours of sleep a night or less. You might "get by" with less, but the research is overwhelming - adequate sleep is very important to good health. Lack of adequate sleep not only makes you tired, but according to research, impairs your concentration, memory, fine motor skills, and negatively impacts your mood. Not only that, but a long-term lack of adequate sleep compromises your immune system and plays a role in developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type II diabetes, and even several forms of cancer. Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis really is a must for your health.

     3) Eat 5+ servings of fruits & vegetables a day. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a cornerstone of a healthy diet, and you cannot eat too many. Try to eat a wide variety fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, carrots, and the cruciferous veggies, which include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy, radishes, horseradish, and various greens (turnip, mustard, kale, collard, etc). Legumes (beans, peanuts) should be eaten for their fiber, protein, and other nutritional value. Of course, use common sense and avoid any foods to which you are allergic or otherwise sensitive.

     4) Eat whole grains instead of refined grains. Many studies suggest that the high rate of consumption of refined (or white) flour, bread, pasta, cereals and rice are contributing to the current epidemics of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer. Switch to whole grains whenever possible. Avoid grains entirely if you are allergic to them, or have a gluten sensitivity.

NOTE 1: Legumes and grains are agricultural foods, and as such are more recent additions to the human diet. Human biology has not fully adapted to them (which is why you can't eat most of them raw) and they can create problems ranging from simple flatulence to dangerous, even fatal, allergies. Be aware of how your body handles them, and reduce or eliminate consumption if you have a problem with them. Also, if you do consume legumes and grains, make sure they are always fully cooked.

     5) Consume much less refined sugar. A major contributor to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer is the high rate of sugar consumption in all its forms, especially high fructose corn syrup. Cut back drastically on the amount of sugar you consume, and when you do use sweeteners, prefer natural sources such as fruit & honey (again, avoid foods that you know you are allergic to).

     6) Consume fatty fish at least a couple of times a week. Fatty, or oily, fish contain very important omega-3 fatty acids that are difficult to adequately get elsewhere. Fatty fish are typically cold water fish, and include salmon, tuna, trout, herring, sardines, and mackerel. Please enjoy your fish baked or grilled, not fried in oil. If you don't eat fish at least twice a week, consider taking an omega-3 supplement. Again, avoid any foods to which you are allergic or otherwise sensitive.

     7) Be physically active everyday. Many experts recommend at least one hour of moderate exercise a day, at least five days a week. What is moderate exercise? It should be vigorous enough to cause you to break out in a slight sweat. Walking, hiking, swimming, and bike riding are excellent, ways to exercise, as are gardening and yardwork. Use common sense - if you are elderly, badly out-of-shape, or have a serious health condition, please get your doctor's advise before starting an exercise program.

     8) Visit your doctor & dentist for regular check-ups. Find a doctor you like and are comfortable with, hopefully one who takes a holistic approach to your health care, and believes as strongly in preventing disease as he or she does in curing disease. What constitutes "regular check-ups" depends on your age & health conditions and should be mutually decided on by you and your doctor.

NOTE 2: Industrial foods should be avoided. Industrial foods are even more recent additions to the human diet than are agricultural foods, and human biology has had even less time to adapt to them. By industrial foods, I mean highly processed and refined foods, often with lots of extra chemicals not normally found in foods (preservatives, additives, artificial colors, etc.).

These industrial "foods" include refined flour ("white" bread, etc.), processed oils (especially margarines - butter is typically much healthier), and refined sugars (such as high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS). It also includes foods containing large amounts of preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and artificial antibiotics & hormones. Most prepackaged foods and restaurant meals

NOTE 3: Achieving menos includes not just good health and fitness, but also emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. I will address those aspects in future articles.

See Also

Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan (on the Mayo Clinic website)

Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Pyramid (on Dr. Andrew Weil's website)

Traditional Asian Diet (on the Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology website)

The Paleo Manifesto (fascinating book by John Durant)



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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: A Little Bit Vulnerable

Janine Turner's book, A Little Bit Vulnerable - On Hollywood, God, Sobriety, & Politics, is a surprising mix of intimate personal memoir and insightful political commentary. Far from being a typical Hollywood autobiography filled with scandal and gossip, this book delves deeply into both Janine Turner's psyche, and into the political foundations of America. Moreover, it does so in a way that is both fascinating and educational. Traditional Americans, conservatives, libertarians, and tea party types will all appreciate much of what this book offers.

Janine Turner is perhaps best known for her role as Maggie O'Connell on Northern Exposure. More recently, she has become known as a champion of the US Constitution and America's founding principles through her organization Constituting America, which utilizes the culture and multi-media outreach in promoting education and respect for the Constitution. She is also a columnist, radio show host (hopefully she will be back on the air soon - I really enjoy/appreciate her style of radio punditry) and frequent guest on shows such as The O'Reilly Factor.

The book starts out with Turner taking us on a tour through her life by sharing a selection of poetry that she wrote through the years, along with what was happening in her life at the time (career successes, a broken engagement, her struggles with alcoholism and sobriety, among others). I admit that, at first, I thought that section would be boring and I would quickly skim through it to get to the good stuff. I was wrong. I read every line of poetry she included. It is a very honest, surprisingly intimate and revealing, window onto her soul, which took a lot of courage on her part to share so publicly, in my opinion.

Next up, Turner gets really into her Constitutionalist mode, and also discusses the founding of Constituting America. She includes some of her political commentary, as well as many of her essays on individual Federalist Papers (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 32, 37, 43, 45, 60, 68, 69, 70, 73, & 85). It is at this point that my copy of her book became marked up with many notes as I read, and learned, through those essays. Her commentary on the Federalist Papers is extremely insightful, well-researched, and well-thought out. Chapter two by itself is worth the cost of the book, and more.

Chapter three continues with the more-scholarly portion of her book, as she starts out discussing "Satellites, Northern Exposure, and America's Future" using that as a springboard to an in-depth discussion of Washington's Farewell Address through the prism of today. Really, this transition - and other transitions throughout the book- actually works well, despite the seeming disparity between subject matter.

In chapter four, Turner gets into modern politics, discussing the Manipulation and Mission of Women in Politics. It is in this section that Turner - a single mother who choose life - gives some excellent and much-needed advice to Pro-Lifers. My short - and wholly inadequate - summary of her comments is that we cannot be concerned solely with the unborn child, but need to share that same love and concern for the mother, both during pregnancy and after she gives birth. We should not, must not, treat single mothers as villains, especially while ignoring the role the fathers in those situations. A sentiment I whole-heartedly agree with, by the way. I hope that every pro-life politician, candidate, pundit, and activist will read that column.

(At this point, I hoped to include a link to that column, Can Conservatives be Pro-Life in the Womb, but Not in the World?, on her website, but unfortunately that page gives an error message at the moment. I will include the link later, if and when it gets restored.)

Contending With and Countering the Culture is the next section of the book, in which Turner discusses the role of today's culture, which she liken's to a form of modern pagan-worship, and the mass media. She includes many of her columns on everything from how liberals profit from the Capitalist system they oppose, to why we should reject the race card. I find these columns to be insightful, often taking a surprising tack on various issues. Definitely different then you get from many conservative pundits, and that is a good thing.

Turner closes out the book discussing her Seeking and Keeping Sobriety (including an interview of Bob Beckel on the topic), and dealing with the death of her father (a veteran and West Point graduate). The book also includes transcripts of radio interviews Turner did of Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator Rand Paul.

Janine Turner's book is an atypical mix of personal narrative and political & historical commentary. But it works together very well, and makes for an interesting, and educational, read. It's not a quick read, as she packs a lot of information into its pages, but it will hold your attention.

You can follow Janine Turner on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JanineTurner

You might also be interested in my reviews of Juliette Turner's (Janine's daughter) two books: Our Constitution ROCKS! and Our Presidents ROCK!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death" Speech


Patrick Henry delivered his "give me liberty or give me death" speech on March 23, 1775 before the House of Burgesses at Saint John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, during a debate on whether or not to mobilize for military action against the British. A text of the speech written by Patrick Henry does not exist, but it was later reconstructed from the memories of several people who heard the speech first hand. 




Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death

Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained — we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable — and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!



Return to the #HistoryHub.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Survivalist's Library from 1964

What books should be on a Survivalist's bookshelf? That is a question prompted by a book I'm currently reading (Robert Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold). Its a science fiction survivalist novel about a family that survives a nuclear war. In it, the man (Hugh Farnham) who built and stocked a bomb shelter lists his "must-have" survivalist library (as far as my "review" of Heinlein's book goes, its okay, but not on my list of highly recommended reads).

Heinlein's book was published in 1964, so all the books mentioned are from before that, naturally. I'll do my list of a Prepper's Library for modern times sometime, but for now here is the list of the books in the bomb shelter's library:

At one point in the book, Hugh Farnham mentions regretting not including the works of Mark Twain in his library.

The list is a mixture of practical books (various volumes on homesteading, medicine, engineering, etc), books for entertainment value (note the inclusion of Hoyle's Book of Games for one), general knowledge (a dictionary and an encyclopedia), and several selections obviously influenced by the Cold War (the books on guerrilla warfare, and the Russian/English dictionaries). Hugh even attempted to save some classic works (Homer, Shakespeare, etc.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Monroe Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine, which declared all acts of colonization or interference in the Americas by European nations to be acts of aggression to be responded to by the United States, was established by President James Monroe in his seventh annual speech before Congress on December 2, 1823. The following is the section of his speech declaring this foreign policy.


At the proposal of the Russian Imperial Government, made through the minister of the Emperor residing here, a full power and instructions have been transmitted to the Minister of the United States at St. Petersburgh to arrange, by amicable negotiation, the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the northwest coast of this continent. A similar proposal has been made by His Imperial Majesty to the Government of Great Britain, which has likewise been acceded to. The Government of the United States has been desirous, by this friendly proceeding, of manifesting the great value which they have invariably attached to the friendship of the Emperor, and their solicitude to cultivate the best understanding with his Government. In the discussions to which this interest has given rise, and in the arrangements by which they may terminate the occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers....

It was stated at the commencement of the last session that a great effort was then making in Spain and Portugal, to improve the condition of the people of those countries, and that it appeared to be conducted with extraordinary moderation. It need scarcely be remarked, that the result has been, so far, very different from what was then anticipated. Of events in that quarter of the globe, with which we have so much intercourse, and from which we derive our origin, we have always been anxious and interested spectators. The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly, in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow men on that side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers, in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our rights are invaded, or seriously menaced, that we resent injuries, or make preparation for our defence. With the movements in this hemisphere, we are, of necessity, more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the allied powers is essentially different, in this respect, from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective governments. And to the defence of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted. We owe it, therefore, to candor, and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers, to declare, that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere, as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered, and shall not interfere. But with the governments who have declared their independence, and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration, and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling, in any other manner, their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States. In the war between those new governments and Spain we declared our neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered, and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur, which, in the judgement of the competent authorities of this government, shall make a corresponding change, on the part of the United States, indispensable to their security.

The late events in Spain and Portugal, shew that Europe is still unsettled. Of this important fact, no stronger proof can be adduced than that the allied powers should have thought it proper, on any principle satisfactory to themselves, to have interposed, by force, in the internal concerns of Spain. To what extent such interposition may be carried, on the same principle, is a question, to which all independent powers, whose governments differ from theirs, are interested; even those most remote, and surely none more so than the United States. Our policy, in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy; meeting, in all instances, the just claims of every power; submitting to injuries from none. But, in regard to these continents, circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent, without endangering our peace and happiness: nor can any one believe that our Southern Brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition, in any form, with indifference. If we look to the comparative strength and resources of Spain and those new governments, and their distance from each other, it must be obvious that she can never subdue them. It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties to themselves, in the hope that other powers will pursue the same course.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Prepper Workshop and DIY Safety

Some preppers are lucky enough to have an actual workshop separate from their house. Others have converted their garage or a spare room into a workshop. Apartment dwellers may only have a closet where they keep their tools, pulling them out and using them as and where needed. Regardless of where your work area is, here are some important safety tips and considerations:

1) Your workshop or work area should be well-light and well-ventilated.

2) Make sure your workshop or work area is not cluttered, and that you have enough room to work on your projects without tripping over or bumping into stuff.

3) Your workshop should be correctly wired (and up to code) for the power tools and equipment you are using.

4) Check all extension cords for fraying and other damage on a regular basis. Always use the correct extension cord for the power tool or equipment being used.

5) Have a well-stocked first aid kit in your workshop (or with you, if you are working away from your workshop). Make sure your first aid kit includes a tourniquet, burn kit, and eyewash bottle.

6) Have a fire/smoke detector and a CO2 detector in your workshop. Check/change batteries on a regular basis.

7) Have an all-purpose (ABC) fire extinguisher in your workshop.

8) Store your tools and equipment properly. Make sure items on shelves are secured so they won't accidentally fall off.

9) Read and keep the manufacturers instructions for correct and safe use of your tools and equipment, as well as the MSDS safety sheets for all chemicals and materials that you store or use.

10) Store all paints, oils, glues, cleaning fluids, and other chemicals in appropriate containers, and away from sources of flames and/or heat.

11) Keep sharp or dangerous objects out of reach of children and pets.

12) Store oily rags in an appropriate, safe container, and away from sources of flame, heat, or electricity.

13) Make sure all workbenches are sturdy and stable. Do not use an unbalanced workbench. Do not overload a workbench with too much weight.

14) When repairing or installing anything electric, make sure the power is off at the circuit breaker.

Safety/Protective Gear

15) Wear/use the appropriate safety gear for the task at hand. This gear may include:


Personal Behavior

16) Don't use power tools or equipment for the first time without proper instruction. Don't use tools and equipment that you don't know how to use.

17) Never use tools and equipment while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

18) Use the appropriate tool for the task. Don't try to make do. Don't use tools that are damaged. Only use tools and equipment how they were intended to be used.

19) Wear suitable shoes and clothing for the task (for example, no flip-flops or clogs). Remove dangling items (such as a scarf, necklace, etc.) before using power tools.

20) Lift heavy objects with your legs, not your back. Get help lifting objects too heavy for you to comfortably lift on your own.

21) Don't smoke or use candles around gas, oil, and other flammable materials.

22) Stay focused and pay attention to the task at hand. Don't get distracted.

23) Please, no practical jokes, running, or horseplay in the workshop or work area. This should go without saying, but many accidents do happen while workers are fooling around, goofing off, or otherwise behaving inappropriately for the situation.

NOTE: If possible, have a partner with you in case of accident while working. Always have a cell phone or other means of calling for help if needed.

Please take workshop and DIY safety seriously. Accidents can lead to property destruction, temporary or permanent injury, and even death.

This list is not exhaustive by any means, and is not meant to replace your own common sense. Your particular situation, equipment, and activities may require additional safety precautions. Please read the manufacturers instructions for correct and safe use of your tools and equipment, as well as the MSDS safety sheets for all chemicals and materials that you store or use.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

My "Prepper" Philosophy

Earthquake Aftermath
I started this year with an examination of what Self-Reliance is (and isn't). Then I explained the three foundations for Self-Reliance in the modern world. Now, its time to explain my self-reliance ("prepper") philosophy.

My prepper philosophy is summed up in the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared." Now, before you roll your eyes, please realize that motto is much more profound than it may appear at first glance. Let me explain.

Be Prepared. Its just two words, and gives no detail. Be prepared for what? Be prepared when? Be prepared how? It doesn't answer those questions, and that is what makes it so profound.


Be Prepared. For what? For whatever comes our way. Maybe a hurricane, or an earthquake, or some other natural disaster. Maybe a terrorist attack, or a pandemic, or an economic collapse. Or maybe an emerging police state and the loss of individual liberty. Or, maybe it is something much more individual - a house fire, an unexpected job loss, sickness or injury.

The fact is, we don't know what the future holds in store. We can make educated guesses based on known facts and logic. For example, I think it is very reasonable to expect some sort of economic collapse, leading to a political collapse (which I define as the end to the Constitution). But I cannot predict exactly when it will happen (this year? next year? ten years from now?). Nor can I predicted exactly how it will happen, or how bad it will get, or how long it will last. And even if it does happen, there is always a chance that some other disaster will happen first. As far as I can know, maybe I'll get killed in an earthquake a month before the economic collapse.

Be prepared. It doesn't give us step-by-step instructions because step-by-step instructions are simply impossible. Things are too unpredictable, there are too many variables, and circumstances are constantly changing.

Be prepared. What does it mean? Is it too vague to really mean anything? Not at all. Anyone who has been involved in scouting knows the whole program revolves around those two words. Not in the sense of "do x, y, and z" or "stockpile plenty of this and that", but rather by developing the strength of character, body, mind, and spirit to handle whatever comes your way.

Be prepared. It means having the right attitude, character, know-how, and ingenuity to quickly adapt to any circumstance, no matter what it is.

"The scout motto means that you are always ready in mind and body to do your duty and to face danger, if necessary, to help others." -- The Official Boy Scout Handbook, ninth edition, page 43.

All the activities, skill awards, merit badges, and Scoutcraft is designed to achieve that goal.

For Scouts, it starts with the Scout Oath:

        On my honor I will do my best
        To do my duty to God and my country
           and to obey the Scout Law;
        To help other people at all times;
        To keep myself physically strong.
           mentally awake, and morally straight.

In other words, its about honor, duty, and priorities. Its about preparing oneself  - physically, mentally, and morally.

It then continues with the Scout Law:

        A Scout is:
          Trustworthy
          Loyal
          Helpful
          Friendly
          Courteous
          Kind
          Obedient
          Cheerful
          Thrifty
          Brave
          Clean
          Reverent

In other words, its about actively making ourselves into the best versions of ourselves we can be.

So, my prepper philosophy is simply "Be Prepared." In order to do that, I must work daily on becoming the best me I can be. This starts with attitude and character, health and fitness, then moves on to knowledge and skills. Acquiring stuff, or even making specific plans (I'll bug out to X location with my fully-loaded bug-out bag when Y happens), is actually down towards the bottom of the list. Not unimportant, but not as important.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ronald Reagan's "Our Noble Vision" Speech


Delivered on March 2, 1984 before the American Conservative Union in Washington, DC

Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, members of the Cabinet, and distinguished ladies and gentlemen. I just want to say thank you to Mickey Edwards. I'm honored to stand beside this fine Congressman from Oklahoma and ACU's great leader.

Seeing the size of your gathering here this evening, the exciting program that you've planned, and the media attention you're drawing, and seeing and feeling the drive, energy, and intellectual force that's coming to our cause from the American Conservative Union, Young Americans for Freedom, Human Events, and National Review, I believe the proof is undeniable: The conservative movement is alive and well, and you are giving America a new lease on life.

It is true that many of you are helping now in our Administration. And we're going to add one more in the next few days, because coming to the West Wing, there on our staff, will be the man that organized the first four of these dinners -- Frank Donatelli. We've been together through many struggles. We've known the agony of defeat. And recently, we've seen public support begin to swell behind our banner. What we worked so long and hard to win was good, but hardly good enough. So, in expressing my pride and affection for this good family, for our family, may I say not only Happy Anniversary, ACU, but also, long live the revolution.

The mission of this conference is a mission of principle: It is a mission of commitment, and it must and will be a mission of victory. Color our cause with courage and confidence. We offer an optimistic society. More than 200 years after the patriots fired that first shot heard 'round the world, one revolutionary idea still burns in the hearts of men and women everywhere: A society where man is not beholden to government; government is beholden to man.

The difference between the path toward greater freedom or bigger government is the difference between success and failure; between opportunity and coercion; between faith in a glorious future and fear of mediocrity and despair; between respecting people as adults, each with a spark of greatness, and treating them as helpless children to be forever dependent; between a drab, materialistic world where Big Brother rules by promises to special interest groups, and a world of adventure where everyday people set their sights on impossible dreams, distant stars, and the Kingdom of God. We have the true message of hope for America.

In Year of Decision, 1846, Bernard DeVoto explained what drove our ancestors to conquer the West, create a nation, and open up a continent. If you take away the dream, you take away the power of the spirit. If you take away the belief in a greater future, you cannot explain America -- that we're a people who believed there was a promised land; we were a people who believed we were chosen by God to create a greater world.

Well, I think we're remembering those bedrock beliefs which motivate our progress. A spirit of renewal is spreading across this land. We even have a pro-conservative newspaper in the nation's capital [the Washington Times]. And, if I may just interject, I understand that [Times Editor and Publisher] Jim Whalen will be honored by your group tomorrow night, and that's wonderful news and well deserved.

I think America is better off than we were three years ago because we've stopped placing our faith in more government programs. We're restoring our faith in the greatest resource this nation has -- the mighty spirit of free people under God. It was you who reminded Washington that we are a government of, by, and for the people, not the other way around. It was you who said it is time to put earnings back in the hands of the people, time to put trust back in the hands of the people, time to put America back in the hands of the people.

And this is what we're trying to do. Our critics are not pleased, but I hope we'll be forgiven this small observation: The spendthrifts who mangled America with the nightmare of double-digit inflation, record interest rates, unfair tax increases, too much regulation, credit controls, farm embargoes, gas lines, no-growth at home, weakness abroad, and phony excuses about "malaise" are the last people who should be giving sermonettes about fairness and compassion.

Their failures were not caused by erratic weather patterns, unusual rotations of the moon, or by the personality of my predecessor. They were caused by misguided policies and misunderstanding human nature. Believe me, you cannot create a desert, hand a person a cup of water, and call that compassion. You cannot pour billions of dollars into make-work jobs while destroying the economy that supports them and call that opportunity. And you cannot build up years of dependence on government and dare call that hope.

But apparently nothing bothers our liberal friends. The same expertise that told them their policies must succeed convinced them that our program spelled economic Armageddon. First they blamed the recession on our tax cuts. The trouble is, our tax cuts hadn't started yet. They also warned that when our tax program passed, America would face runaway inflation, record interest rates, and a collapse of confidence. Well, at least they got part of it right. Our program passed, and we witnessed a collapse all right. A collapse of inflation from 12.4 down to about 4 percent; a collapse of the prime interest rate from over 21 percent to 11; and a new surge of confidence in stocks and bonds.

They warned that decontrolling the price of oil would send the cost of gas at the pumps skyrocketing. We decontrolled, and the price is lower today than it was three years ago when we decontrolled.

And then they said that recovery couldn't come, or would be too feeble to notice. Well, from strong growth in housing to autos, construction, and high technology, from a rebirth of productivity to the fastest drop in unemployment in over 30 years, we have one of the strongest recoveries in decades. And we'll keep it strong if they'll get out of the way.

Pardon me if I add something here. You know, I did get a kick out of watching on TV the door-to-door campaigning in New Hampshire. I got to see some of the homes the people have been able to buy since we brought interest rates down. Incidentally, I'm sure all of you have read or seen on the air that in the month of January our sale of new houses dropped, and dropped to a great percent -- about a 9 percent drop below what it was the previous month. Only 688,000 new homes were sold in January. But they didn't add that that drop was only from the sales in December, and beyond that it was the highest number that had been sold since 1979 in a single month.

But our critics moan the recovery can't last. Those awful tax cuts haven't sparked business investment; private borrowers are being crowded out of the capital markets. Well, if that's true, how did the venture capital industry raise four times as much capital in 1983 as it did in 1980? How could real, fixed business investment increase by a 13-percent rate last year, the fastest rate in any recovery in the past 30 years? And how could funds raised in the equity markets zoom from $16.8 billion in 1983 -- or in 1982, to $36.6 billion in 1983? Still another record.

Now, all this means more growth, more jobs, more opportunities, and a more competitive America. Now, lately, the pessimists have been sounding a new alarm: the dollar is so strong, they say, that exporters can't export, and we'll have no chance for lasting growth.

Well, the facts are -- as Secretary [of the Treasury] Don Regan has pointed out -- the dollar is strong because of people's confidence in our currency, our low rate of inflation, and the incentives to invest in the United States. No American should undermine confidence in the nation's currency. A strong dollar is one of our greatest weapons against inflation. Anyone who doubts the value of a strong currency should look at the postwar performances of Japan, Switzerland, and West Germany. Yes, we have a trade deficit, but this isn't entirely new. The United States had a merchandise trade deficit in almost all of the years between 1790 and 1875. I remember them well. 'Course, I was only a boy at the time.

But that was when our economy grew into one of the largest and strongest in the world. Rising incomes have given us the ability to increase purchases from abroad. The U.S. economy is serving as an engine for worldwide recovery, and this will translate into greater demands for our own goods. But even with our current trade deficits, exports of goods and services have made a greater contribution to this recovery than to any previous recovery in the postwar period.

The critics were wrong on inflation, wrong on interest rates, wrong on the recovery, and I believe they'll be wrong on the deficit, too, if the Congress will get spending under control. If optimism were a national disease, they'd be immune for life. Isn't it time that we said no to those who keep saying no to America? If the sourpuss set cannot believe in our nation and her people, then let them stand aside and we will get the job done.

In fairness, I'll admit our critics are worried sick about the future of the economy. They're worried it might keep getting better and better.

Now, those who deal in a world of numbers cannot predict the progress of the human mind, the drive and energy of the spirit, or the power of incentives. We're beginning an industrial renaissance which most experts never saw coming. It started with the 1978 capital gains tax reduction -- passed over the objections of the last administration -- and which was then made greater by our own tax reductions in 1981.

Incentives laid the seeds for the great growth in venture capital which helped set off the revolution in high technology. Sunrise industries, such as computers, micro-electronics, robotics, and fiber optics -- all are creating a new world of opportunities. And as our knowledge expands, business investment is stimulated to modernize older industries with the newer technologies.

Dr. Robert Jastrow, chairman of the first NASA lunar exploration committee, believes the potential in our high-tech industries for new jobs and economic growth is mind-boggling. A year ago, he predicted the computer industry would double in size by 1986, becoming America's biggest business. And now we're seeing the knowledge and benefits of high technology being put to use in medicine, bringing new hope to millions who suffer handicaps and disabilities.

Visionaries see infinite possibilities for new economic growth in America's next frontier -- space. Our challenge of building a permanently manned space station, and of further exploration, can open up entire new industries. Products from metal alloys to lifesaving medicines -- these can immensely improve our environment and life on Earth.

All our space-related activities must begin with the transportation to get there. This is an area of American technological leadership, and I intend to make sure we keep that edge. That's why I've asked Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole to start immediately promoting private sector investment in commercial, unmanned space boosters -- the powerful rockets that carry satellites into orbit. With these boosters, and a thriving commercial launch industry, American private enterprise will be blasting off toward new horizons of hope, adventure, and progress -- a future that will dazzle our imaginations and lift our spirits.

An opportunity society awaits us. We need only believe in ourselves and give men and women of faith, courage, and vision the freedom to build it. Let others run down America and seek to punish success. Let them call you greedy for not wanting government to take more and more of your earnings. Let them defend their tombstone society of wage and price guidelines, mandatory quotas, tax increases, planned shortages, and shared sacrifices.

We want no part of that mess, thank you very much. We will encourage all Americans -- men and women, young and old, individuals of every race, creed, and color -- to succeed and be healthy, happy, and whole. This is our goal. We see America not falling behind, but moving ahead; our citizens not fearful and divided, but confident and united by shared values of faith, family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom.

An opportunity society begins with growth, and that means incentives. As I told the people of Iowa last week, my sympathies are with the taxpayers, not the tax-spenders. I consider stopping them from taking more of your earnings an economic responsibility and a moral obligation. I will not permit an antigrowth coalition to jeopardize this recovery. If they get their way, they'll charge everything on your "Taxpayers Express Card." And believe me, they never leave home without it.

As good conservatives, we were brought up to oppose deficits. But sometimes I think some have forgotten why. We were against deficit spending. Those who would be heroes trying to reduce deficits by raising taxes are not heroes. They have not addressed the point I made in the State of the Union: whether government borrows or increases taxes, it will be taking the same amount of money from the private economy and, either way, that's too much.

We must bring down government spending to a level where it cannot interfere with the ability of the economy to grow. The Congress must stop fiddling and pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget. With strong support from many of you here, we nearly scored a great victory in 1982. It's time to try again. We also seek a line-item veto to prevent pork barrel projects from passing just because they're attached to otherwise good legislation. I'm sure we're united by one goal. The Grace commission identified billions of dollars in wasteful government spending. And I believe the Congress has a responsibility to work with us and eliminate that waste wherever it exists.

Combining these spending restraints with another key reform will make America's economy the undisputed leader for innovation, growth, and opportunity. I'm talking about simplification of the entire tax system. We can make taxes more fair, easier to understand and, more important, we can greatly increase incentives by bringing personal tax rates down. If we can reduce personal tax rates as dramatically as we've reduced capital gains taxes, the underground economy will shrink, the whole world will beat a path to our door, and no one will hold America back. This is the real blueprint for a brighter future and declining deficits.

But economic opportunities can only flourish if the values at the foundation of our society and freedom remain strong and secure. Our families and friends must be able to live and work without always being afraid. Americans are sick and tired of law-abiding people getting mugged, robbed, and raped, while dangerous criminals get off scot-free.

We have a comprehensive crime bill to correct this. It would put an end to the era of coddling criminals, and it's been passed by the Senate. But the legislation is bottled up in the House. Now, maybe it's time they heard from a few of you -- a few million of you. You know, you don't have to make them see the light; just make them feel the heat. I hope you realize that in my comments about some of the shortcomings of the Congress, believe me, tonight present company is excepted.

Strengthening values also demands a national commitment to excellence in education. If we are to pioneer a revolution in technology, meet challenges of the space age, and preserve values of courage, responsibility, integrity, and love, then we can't afford a generation of children hooked on cocaine and unable to read or write. Conservatives have pointed out for years that while federal spending on education was soaring, aptitude scores were going steadily down. Look at the case of New Hampshire. It ranks dead last in state spending on education, but its students have the highest SAT scores among those states where at least half the students take the test. And they've maintained that honor for more than 10 years. America's schools don't need new spending programs; they need tougher standards, more homework, merit pay for teachers, discipline, and parents back in charge.

Now there's another important reform to be voted on soon in the Senate.... Let us come together, citizens of all faiths, to pray, march, and mobilize every force we have so the God who loves us can be welcomed back into our children's classrooms. I'm gratified that Congressman Newt Gingrich [R-Ga.] is organizing a rally on the Capitol steps in support of our prayer in school amendment. Please be there if you can, and please send the message loud and clear that God never should have been expelled from America's schools in the first place. And maybe if we can get God and discipline back in our schools, we can get drugs and violence out.

Now, let me make it plain that we seek voluntary school prayer, not a moment of silence. We already have the right to remain silent; we can take the 5th Amendment. But as we go on, we must redouble our efforts to redress a national tragedy. Since the Roe v. Wade decision, 15 million unborn children have been lost -- 15 million children who will never laugh, never sing, never know the joy of human love, will never strive to heal the sick or feed the poor or make peace among nations. They've been denied the most basic of human rights, and we're all the poorer for their loss.

Not long ago I received a letter from a young woman named Kim. She was born with the birth defect, spina bifida, and given little chance to live. But her parents were willing to try a difficult and risky operation on her spine. It worked. And Kim wrote me: "I am now 24 years old. I do have some medical problems due to my birth defect. I have a lot of problems with my legs. But I'm walking. I can talk. I went to grade and high school, plus one year of college. I thank God every day for my parents and my life."

And Kim said, "I wouldn't change it if I could."

Life was her greatest opportunity, and she's made the most of it. An opportunity society for all, reaching for its future with confidence, sustained by faith, fair play, and a conviction that good and courageous people flourish when they're free -- this is the noble vision we share, a vision of a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world. Just as America has always been synonymous with freedom, so, too, should we become the symbol of peace across the Earth. I'm confident we can keep faith with that mission.

Peace with freedom is our highest aspiration -- a lasting peace anchored by courage, realism, and unity. We've stressed our willingness to meet the Soviets halfway in talks on strategic weapons. But as Commander in Chief, I have an obligation to protect this country, and I will never allow political expediency to influence these crucial negotiations.

We should remember that our defense capability was allowed to deteriorate for many years. Only when our arms are certain beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be used. President John F. Kennedy spoke those words in 1961. Too many who admired him have forgotten that the price of peace is dear. But some members of his party have not, and I am proud to have one of them, a brilliant patriot, Jeane Kirkpatrick, by my side.

And I deeply appreciate your patriotic support for rebuilding our defenses. We're just beginning to restore our capability to meet present and future security needs. I am open to suggestions for budget savings, but defense is not just another federal program. It is solely the responsibility of the federal government. It is its prime responsibility. So, our first responsibility is to keep America strong enough to remain free, secure, and at peace, and I intend to make sure that we do just that.

America's foreign policy supports freedom, democracy, and human dignity for all mankind, and we make no apologies for it. The opportunity society that we want for ourselves we also want for others, not because we're imposing our system on others but because those opportunities belong to all people as God-given birthrights and because by promoting democracy and economic opportunity we make peace more secure.

Democratic nations do not wage war on their neighbors. But make no mistake, those who would hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on our shores, those who would weaken America or give Castro's terrorists free rein to bring violence closer and closer to our borders are doing no service to the cause of peace.

Fellow citizens, fellow conservatives, our time has come again. This is our moment. Let us unite, shoulder to shoulder, behind one mighty banner for freedom. And let us go forward from here not with some faint hope that our cause is not yet lost; let us go forward confident that the American people share our values, and that together we will be victorious.

And in those moments when we grow tired, when our struggle seems hard, remember what Eric Liddell, Scotland's Olympic champion runner, said in Chariots of Fire: "So where does the power come from to see the race to its end? From within. God made me for a purpose, and I will run for His pleasure."

If we trust in Him, keep His word, and live our lives for His pleasure, He'll give us the power we need -- power to fight the good fight, to finish the race and to keep the faith.

Thank you very much. God bless you and God bless America.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Three Foundations of Self-Reliance

Your self-reliance, as well as any preparations to survive any future disasters or crisis, rests on a foundation made up of three aspects - the mental/emotional, the physical, and the financial. No matter how well-thought out your plans, how many skills you have acquired, or how much stuff you've stockpiled, without a solid foundation you will be in deep trouble, if not quickly dead, in any crisis.

The mental/emotional aspect is, in my opinion, the single most important aspect of being self-reliant and prepared. All you planning, skills, and stockpiles will be useless to you if you panic, freeze up, or otherwise "fall apart" during a disaster or crisis. You will make poor decisions (or no decisions) that will endanger yourself, and your family, if you cannot think in a crunch.

The ability to not panic, stay focused, and think clearly in any crisis is obviously crucial. But, how do you develop your abilities in this area? Here is a quick summary of my Prepping Your Mental Health article from last year (please read the full article for more details):

  1. Develop a healthy spirituality
  2. Reconnect with your spouse
  3. Reconnect with family, friends, & neighbors
  4. Weed out toxic people from your life
  5. Get rid of your addictions
  6. Relax, Life. Enjoy life.
  7. Reduce stress
  8. Connect/reconnect with the natural world
  9. Get enough sleep on a consistent basis
  10. Be a life-long learner

Most of these ideas revolve around building positive relationships in your life (with God, spouse, family, friends...) which will build you up, and getting rid of problems that drag you down (toxic people, addictions, unnecessary stress, poor sleep habits...).

Of these, I really consider ones relationship with God to be the most crucial. My relationship with God gives me great comfort, encouragement, strength, and purpose. I really do believe "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

           "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." -- Proverbs 23:7 NKJV

The physical aspect includes your health and fitness. I am constantly amazed at the number of so-called preppers who are quite overweight and badly out-of-shape. Many are still heavy smokers. Worse, they are often doing nothing about it. The excuses flow like beer at a frat party - genetics, bad knees, no time, too hard,I'll get around to it later, even "I'll live off my body fat long after those skinny people are dead."

Folks, ten years ago I topped out at over 330 pounds, and was badly out of shape. Today, I'm down to 210 pounds and in much better shape. I've still got work to do, but I am doing it. Health and fitness is, and will remain, a major area of focus for me.

Don't know where to start? Here are the basics:

  1. Stop smoking and/or abusing drugs and alcohol - Need help to stop smoking? Visit the CVS Quit Smoking website and/or the Quit Smoking webpage of the American Cancer Society. Need help with alcohol addiction? See the AA website. Drug addiction? See the Narcotics Anonymous website. 
  2. Get adequate sleep on a consistent basis - See my webpage on the importance of sleep
  3. Eat healthy - Generally speaking, try to avoid highly-processed, industrial foods. Instead, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, and poultry. I personally try to follow the Mediterranean diet (link is to a Mayo Clinic webpage) as closely as possible. 
  4. Be physically active everyday - most experts recommend at least one hour of moderate exercise per day. This doesn't have to be in a gym or exercise class. Walking, biking, jogging, swimming, yard work, and gardening all work just fine. 
  5. Visit you doctor and dentist on a regular basis - What constitutes "regular check-ups" depends on your age & health conditions and should be mutually decided on by you and your doctor.

Dr. Weil's book 8 Weeks to Optimum Health is a really good resource, in my opinion, and a program I followed with success.

            "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who
             is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 
             you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." --
             1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The financial aspect is also very important, and one some people unfortunately choose to ignore. In fact, I get the feeling some folks are hoping for an economic collapse that will end up being a financial reset for them, eliminating the debt they are already in. I seriously doubt it is going to happen that way. Besides, even if a complete economic collapse happens, we need to be able to pay our bills until then.

We all know the basics we should be doing financially. Spend less than you make. Get on a budget or spending plan. Avoid new debt. Pay off old debt. Reduce your expenses. Build some emergency savings. Get adequate insurance with a financially sound company. Improve your job skills and make yourself more employable.

All much easier said than done. Here are some articles of mine to help you get started:

Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back To Basics - A mega article crammed with information and details.

Top Ten Ways To Save Big Money - These ideas will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

            "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." --
            Proverbs 22:7

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

What is Self-Reliance?

The concept of self-reliance is important, but poorly understood. Some people confuse self-reliance with self-sufficiency. Others assume that self-reliance equals selfishness. Neither is true. The purpose of this article is to correct those misunderstandings.

Let's start with dictionary definitions of self-reliance:

Self-reliance - Reliance on one's own capabilities, judgment, or resources; independence (from The Free Dictionary)

Self-reliance - Reliance on oneself or one's own powers, resources, etc. (from Dictionary.com)

What I want you to notice about those definitions is what is missing from both of them. The word "only" or "exclusively" is missing from both. So both dictionaries define it as reliance on oneself, but not in an exclusive sense. For exclusivity, we need to look to the definition of self-sufficient.

Self-sufficient - Able to supply one's own or its own needs without external assistance (from Dictionary.com)

It is self-sufficiency that requires no external assistance, a task that is probably impossible for any individual.

John D. McCann, in his new book Practical Self-Reliance, does a better job of explaining the difference:

"In my opinion, self-reliance is being able to do as much as we can without outside assistance.... On the other hand, self-sufficiency is the ability to maintain oneself without outside aid, being able to provide for all of one's needs. Unfortunately, in today's world, we must live with a dependence or inter-dependence on others. In the pioneer days people could not produce everything they needed and had to rely on others for supplies they could not furnish. Even mountain men went to rendezvous in order to sell their furs and purchase needed supplies. They were both very self-reliant, but not self-sufficient." (from page 14, emphasis added)

So the idea of self-reliance does not require the absence of any external existence, but rather to rely first and foremost on oneself, turning to others only when necessity dictates.

Is Self-Reliance Selfish?

I've answered the charge in my Introduction to the Modern Victory Movement, but it bears saying again:  Self-reliance is not anti-social or selfish. It does not mean shutting yourself off from your friends or community. It certainly doesn't mean heading for the hills and hiding, heavily armed, in a secret compound until after some dread doomsday comes to pass.

If you have ever listened to a flight attendant give emergency instructions, you may have noticed that they tell parents traveling with a child to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, before putting one on their child. The airlines don't say that because they hate children. Instead, they say that because if a parent is to help their child, they must first be able to do so. A parent unconscious from the lack of oxygen will be of absolutely no help to their child.

Likewise, we will be of little help to our family, friends and neighbors, if we are the ones in need of help ourselves. In fact, our own helplessness may make matters much worse for our community. Far from being selfish, building self-reliance may be one of the most generous things you can do.

What exactly is Self-Reliance? 

There are lots of facets to the concept of self-reliance. A lot has been written on the subject, from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay Self-Reliance, to John D. McCann's aforementioned book Practical Self-Reliance.  I'll include here a short summary of my thoughts on what it means to be self-reliant.

1- Assume responsibility for your own life.  Don't wait around for the government, your parents, union leaders, community organizers, or anyone else to take care of you. Don't sit around whining that life is unfair, or that someone else has it so much better than you. Learn to take care of yourself. You are in charge of your life, so act like it.

2- Take the blame for your own life.  Don't scapegoat others. Don't "pass the buck." If you are blaming someone else, you are not being self-reliant. Even when things happen beyond your control - such as being robbed, being laid-off, or even your house burning down - you are still in control of how you react to those things.

3- Be informed.  It is your responsibility to find out the facts and information you need to make informed decisions. Keep up with current events. Keep up with the trends in your industry. Know where to get information. Ask questions. Be a lifelong learner. Remember the acronym ASK - Always Seek Knowledge.

4- Know where your going.  What are your goals? What is your purpose? What do you hope to accomplish? Don't just drift through life. Think. Plan ahead.

5- Make your own decisions.  Don't let others run your life for you - and that especially includes the government. Don't worry about what others think of you. Don't worry about being politically correct or socially acceptable. Don't give in to peer pressure. Don't just "go along to get along." Be informed of the issues, and decide for yourself. Be independent.

6- Learn skills.  The more skills you have, the more self-reliant you can be. And by skills, I don't just mean various homesteading, bushcraft, and country skills so popular with most "preppers," but other skills as well, including mechanical skills, computer skills, negotiating skills, business skills, financial skills, budgeting skills, leadership skills, networking skills...

7- Gain experience.  Knowledge learned from books, classrooms, and videos, is often theoretical. Your theoretical knowledge may turn out to be wrong, incomplete, or impractical. Skills can be learned under perfect conditions. But real life tends to be messy, not perfect. Your skills may be challenged by difficult conditions or a lack of resources. Nothing beats actual real world experience.

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