Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Paradoxes of Survival

Have you ever noticed that there are several paradoxes within the ideas of the prepper and survivalist communities?

A paradox is defined as two contradictory statements that both derive from sound reasoning. In essence, both statements are apparently correct, even though they seem mutually exclusive. Within the prepper and survivalist communities, these paradoxes are often the source of much argument. In my opinion, our survival depends on successfully navigating these paradoxes.

Paradox:  "You need people/community" vs. "You're on your own/trust no one."

Many folks, including myself, tend to push the need for community during and after a major SHTF event. We point out that humans need rest, and that no one can work or be on guard duty 24/7, therefore we need others to give us rest. We also point out that a lone wolf, or even a lone family, will only have a limited set of skills to draw from, and that a larger community of folks will have a much greater range of skills and knowledge. 

Other folks point out that larger communities can have their share of problems, such as disputes over leadership and conflict between opposing personalities, opinions, and beliefs. They point out that the bigger the group, the greater the chance of not remaining unnoticed, and that a larger group size means a greater chance of problem individuals, which will jeopardize the group. They also point out that we cannot know how individuals will react under extreme pressure until they actually face it, and that desperate people do desperate things, no matter how "good" a person they may be under normal circumstances.

Actually, both sides are factually correct. They make equally valid points. There are both benefits and disadvantages to being a lone wolf (or lone family) and to being a part of a larger community. Navigating this paradox will require thought and effort before any SHTF events happens. No matter which way we choose to go, we need to be honest about its potential problems, and figure out ways to address those problems ahead of time.

Paradox:  "You need to be armed, trained, and wiling to defend yourself & family" vs. "Avoiding conflict is paramount to survival."

I commit this paradox all the time in my articles. I am a firm believer in being armed,  well-trained, and willing to defend yourself and your family. Yet, I also say that you should try to avoid potential conflict at all costs, that avoiding trouble is always the safest bet. 

This seems contradictory to some extent. One person may say "You want to avoid trouble, but you're running around with a gun and ready to use it? You're actually looking for trouble, and will probably find it." Another person may say "What? You're armed and know how to defend yourself, yet you don't want to? You're either naive or a coward." I've had people tell me both of those things. 

I navigate this seeming paradox by realizing that both sides are correct: that avoiding conflict when possible is always the best option, but having the ability and willingness to defend myself and my family when necessary is always prudent. I will not go out looking for trouble. Nor will I be "trigger-happy" in my eagerness to earn my macho-stripes. Yet I will not hesitate to lethally defend myself and my family if such a necessity is ever forced on me.

Paradox:  "Skills are the most important aspect of survival" vs. "You need stockpiles of food, gear, and other supplies."

Another seeming paradox in which both sides have valid points. The fact is, we need both skills and tools & supplies to survive any future chaos.  The best my to navigate this is to strive for balance in our preparations. It is not just about one or the other. We need both.

Paradox:  "You need to bug-out as soon as possible" vs. "Hunker-down in your current location for the best chance of survival." 

This is a big within the prepper and survivalist community: bug-out or hunker-down? Actually, we need to be prepared for both. Circumstances we dictate which we actually do. For most people in most circumstances, the best option will be to hunker-down and ride out the event in your current location unless and until it becomes ore dangerous to do so than it is to bug-out. But you also don't want to wait too long to bug-out, as the very act of bugging-out itself is dangerous and may become much more so depending on the event and circumstances. 

Navigating this paradox will require 1) preparing for both and 2) making decisions beforehand as to when and under what circumstances to bug-out.  Think through these issues now, before SHTF. A lot will depend on your individual circumstances, but you need to be prepared for both possibilities.

These are only four possible paradoxes within the prepper and survivalist community. What others can you think of, and how will you navigate them?
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