How many of you have played this game on a long car trip where you asked the people around you what is the worst way to die? A version of this goes something like; would you rather drown in the ocean or be burnt alive in a building fire? Gruesome stuff I know, but I think all of us face our own mortality in different ways at different times of our lives. We hypothesize situations that we could find ourselves in that would bring about death as a way discussing our fears in the hopes of possibly looking the boogie-man in the face and laughing at him.
For me, dying of old age is not something I ever really consider and perhaps that is common to anyone who at my age should be more or less half a life away from that possibility, unless something tragic happens. Dying of old age or quietly slipping off to sleep and never waking for me seems to be a pleasant way to depart from this earth. It should go without saying that I hope I have a very long time left on this earth before that happens, but when it comes to subjects that we frequently discuss on the Prepper Journal, dying quietly in a peaceful bed doesn’t often raise to the top of the conversation. It is usually death by a mob, starving to death or succumbing to other evil in some way.
For a long time, I have viewed the possibility of dying through some lens of a disaster. This is the TEOTWAWKI version of that same game but with a more bleak and sinister twist thrown in. Would you rather die defending your home from marauders who bash your skull in with bats to get to all of your stored prepping supplies or die in the woods after you bug out, suffer a fall down a mountain that leaves you critically injured and a bear slowly eats you?
Thinking about death
I had a frequent contributor, Elizabeth ask me this question a while back:
“Why do you think it’s important for as many people as possible to be self-sufficient in the event any disaster occurs?”
I guess it depends on her context but I assume the question is to be taken on its face. I thought about this for a while because the answer seemed so obvious on one hand but it caused me to wonder if there wasn’t a deeper motivation as well. On the surface it seems simple, doesn’t it? I want as many people to be able to take care of themselves so that you aren’t reliant on anyone else (within reason) for your survival. By taking steps to get prepared for all manner of life’s surprises, individuals and families everywhere would be better able to provide for their own survival.
But if you take that a level deeper you have to say, what is survival? Are there different ways to survive? Does survival mean the same thing to everyone or is it simple a biological function where your body has what it needs to keep doing that miraculous thing it does? You have enough calories, water and shelter for your organs to keep doing what they are designed to do? Is survival all we should hope for?
Prisoners are surviving in jail aren’t they? I wouldn’t want that kind of life, but they have food, shelter and all of the things they need for their organs to function. Slaves are surviving too I guess, but I wouldn’t want to be a slave. Indentured servants, prostitutes, congressional pages…So I believe that being self-sufficient should be about more than simple survival. Maybe you are focused on survival in the short-term, but the longer goal should be a more full life. I won’t try to describe what that means for anyone else. Each of you likely has your own vision of a perfect life if we can ever achieve that. Instinctively you likely know your own measure of the difference between living and surviving.
For me being prepared has many facets. The first and easiest to achieve is that simple survival – the basics of life. Ensuring you have a way to obtain clean drinking water, food, shelter and security all check the box on the survival aspect, but assuming you are able to do all of these things, is that enough? Is all that you are preparing for distilled down to simple survival? Is there anything more we should be keeping in mind for ourselves and our families?
The worst way to die
For me the worst way to die is to fail my family in a way or ways that cause them to not be able to survive first of all, but to live a full life after the reason for survival has passed more importantly. Do I want to be able to provide food and clothing, shelter and security for them? Of course I do, but I don’t want to stop there. I focus on the survival aspect because in some ways that is the easier option to consider initially. It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to plan on ways to feed your family. The logistics all need to be worked out, but the usual path is with food. Duh!
Water, Shelter and even Security are pretty similar when you think about it too. Of course even the most prepared individual isn’t an island unto themselves. You can have other forces come into your life to change or impact your preparations, but as far as what you can control; the survival basics seem to be just that. Basic.
The living part; what you do with your life after survival has been achieved, is what makes you smile. It is what gives you hope and a will to go on I think. Do you think you would be happy living in a FEMA camp even if you had three square meals a day, a roof over your head and relative safety? Would you feel content if your children were taken from you even though they were fed when you might not have been able to provide for them? Do you think you would be happy (living) hiding in the woods, wondering if every twig snapping was another person you would have to defend your life from?
I guess for me, I want the same things for all of the readers of my blog that I want for my own family. That is the ability, resources and motivation to be able to provide for our family’s survival so that once the danger has passed we can all live life again. We should strive for more than just existing because I think if that is your only measure of success you can fall into a trap. I draw some parallels to the analogy of trading freedom for security. We should strive for both on our own terms as much as possible. By prepping today we are positioning ourselves both to be able to react more quickly to situations we see approaching as well as coming through on the other side in better shape because of what we do now.
Prepping is about more than buying a bunch of supplies. It is a mindset that we have because we are thinking ahead to what the future could hold. Initially that future might bring chaos, disaster and sorrow but we as preppers have to think beyond the disaster. We have to plan for a life further down the road from the tragedy. We should be planning to survive so that we can life a full life again, not simply exist. The worst way for me to die is to fail at that mission for my family. What’s yours?