In my opinion, the core of prepping and survivalism is building self-reliance - as individuals, as families, and as communities. The more self-reliant we are, the more prepared we will be to survive whatever the future holds in store. Here is my list of the "stuff" needed to build self-reliance.
1- The right mind-set: First and foremost, self-reliance is a mindset. It is a willingness "to do as much as we can without outside assistance" (definition of John McCann in his book Practical Self-Reliance, page 14). It is a mindset in which you both assume responsibility for your own life and take the blame for your own life. You are not looking for others (the government, your parents, community organizers, or whoever) to take care of you or to make life "fair." Nor or you whining and blaming others when things don't go your way. As I've said before, the single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now.
2- Good health and fitness: This should be obvious, but achieving and maintaining good health and fitness is crucial to self-reliance. It will be hard work, but almost everyone can do something to improve their health and fitness. Yes, even if you are old, have bad knees, or "just don't have time to go to a gym," you can do something to improve your health and fitness. No excuses. Quit smoking. Eat right. Get adequate sleep. Be physically active. Walk more. Take a pass on second helpings tonight. Eat a piece of fruit for dessert instead of a piece of pie. Lose weight. Get a check-up.
3- Land (productive land). Productive land is an amazing asset for building self-reliance. You can produce much of your own food (fruit & nut trees, vegetable gardens, chickens, goats), provide your own water (well, pond/stream, rain water collecting), and harvest wood for heat, cooking, and timber. Sure, it would be nice to have a 1,000 acre homestead, but most of us will never be able to afford it. But maybe we can afford 20 acres. Or 10 acres. Or one acre. Even a quarter-acre in a small town or suburban neighborhood could be turned into a productive asset (see the book Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre for ideas).
4- Knowledge, skills, and experience: Just having "stuff" isn't enough to build self-reliance. You have to know, or be able to figure out, what to do with that stuff. That's why you need to develop your knowledge, skills and experience now, before war comes or disaster strikes. Knowledge is what you learn from articles, books, videos, and other people. Skills are what you develop by practicing what you learned. Experience is what you gain by putting knowledge and skills to work in your everyday life.
5 - Tools: Finally, we get to what most people consider "stuff" - actual things we can easily buy from a store or over the Internet. And we do need tools. Tools enable use to make use of our right mind-set. our health & fitness, our productive land, and all those skills & experience we've acquired. Knives, multi-tools, guns, hammers, screwdrivers, saws, axes, shovels, hoes, tractors, and even a pick-up truck are just a few examples of tools that can enable self-reliance (if we have those other building blocks).
6- Supplies: I separate supplies from tools due to their disposable nature. Supplies would mostly be one use and that's it. You'll then have to replace what you used. Seeds, ammo, duct tape, nails, spare parts, food, water, aspirin, and bandages are some examples. When planning on being self-reliant, ask yourself "How can I replace the supplies I use?" Food you stored and used can be replaced by food you grow (can you garden?). Seeds you used to grow your garden can be replaced by seeds you saved from your garden (do you know how to save seeds? Do you understand the importance of heirloom plants and avoiding GMOs?). Ammo you use can be replaced by reloading (do you know how?). The aspirin you use can be replaced by Willow Bark Tea (do you know how to make it?).
In coming weeks, I'll be posting articles on each of these six areas of self-reliance, going into more detail on each. Please check back often.
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