When it comes to surviving anything there are a lot of factors that come into play. Certainly the severity of the situation you have to survive in the first place influences everything. The resources you have at your disposal in the way of tools, gear, others, knowledge or experience weigh just as heavily into the equation also but I think two things above all determine your chances of survival better than anything. Those two things are will and flexibility.
At some point in my life I started responding to any circumstance that required change by saying ‘I ate a whole box of rubber bands this morning’; meaning I thought I was flexible and that I could roll with anything. I am sure it sounded more witty in my head than it does when I actually speak it, but the intent was honest and I believe that being flexible or more precisely being able to adapt is a tremendous advantage when you are faced with dire or even life threatening situations. Flexibility can overcome a lot of obstacles because you keep looking for alternate ways to solve the problem or you are not as easily frustrated if something initially doesn’t go your way. If one thing doesn’t work try something else. If you aren’t able to move in one direction, try another. If you have one expected outcome in your mind, you could begin to get tunnel vision and not see alternate problems or solutions. You need to fight this urge and be more flexible both in your understanding, planning and vision.
Will is the other trait I think that above all others will determine your ability to survive. Regardless of what you are faced with, if your will is strong it will affect everything you see and touch. If you are set and determined that you will make it through any trial in front of you that is an automatic advantage. Juxtapose this with people who give up at the first sign of difficulty or challenge. How many of you know people who call it quits too early? Are these the people you want to be surrounded by if the SHTF or would you want someone that presses on and who is determined to make it work?
It is with these concepts in mind that I started to think of potential situations we commonly refer to as TEOTWAWKI or The End Of The World As We Know It and as I was running this morning I thought that one way of thinking of this hypothetical event may never come to pass and that we would need to be flexible in both our thoughts and actions to thrive in a SHTF scenario. For example, we routinely think of something like a global pandemic. It starts with sickness that spreads. As the sickness spreads, death accompanies the contagion and services are affected either due to people being sick or quarantined. The power plants aren’t able to run because the workers either die or are too sick to work and power is affected. Power takes out things like gas distribution, which would affect food supplies, getting money out of ATM’s and the care that hospitals can provide. The spiral turns into our classic TEOTWAWKI scenario where soon you are scraping to survive and we end up with some type of Mad-Max world in which people have to band together for their survival and fight off hordes of cheesy bad guys in souped-up dune buggies.
Natural Disasters happen and the world doesn’t end
As much time as I spend contemplating a total collapse of society like this and what I would do to protect my family, I paused this morning to consider other options today where the entire grid didn’t collapse, but for one reason or another we had limited pockets of disaster or elements that weren’t working, but most others were and how we would need to be flexible in order to survive that situation too.
Let’s say there was a global pandemic, but the death rate was only 50 million people. This would be a disaster absolutely, but could society still function relatively normally? I mean to say, could we still expect to staff hospitals and our police departments and power plants? Would normal distribution lines continue to roll out goods across the nation? Possibly there would be disruptions and potentially some radical changes may temporarily be needed to get us over the hump. Would we see martial law because due to the pandemic, people started rioting for supplies? Would the military be needed in large cities where due to the police shortage, crime was rampant? Would the military themselves be affected, weakened and fall under attack from other forces globally where we are spread too thin? Most likely a death rate of 50 million would be considered TEOTWAWKI anyway and we would be back to square one.
If you look back at the Influenza epidemic in 1918 that killed 50 million people and imagined that happening today, do you think we are better prepared as a society now to survive something similar? The epidemic killed over 600,000 people in the US alone and that was just in under two years. The epidemic certainly affected the world, but power stayed on (or would have), gas kept pumping and people kept eating. My point is that a devastating disaster can happen that doesn’t send us back to the Stone Age like some predict with events like an EMP. We can have disasters where phones and electricity still work. We can go through horrific times where zombies aren’t roaming the streets and we could face a tremendous loss of life not due to a civil war, but a virus.
How to plan for The Changing Of The World As We Know It
In the Influenza pandemic of 1918, the disease killed our strongest population. Young men and women were more affected than the young or very old. The virus caused the body’s immune system become its biggest weakness as their lungs with fluid and they essentially drowned. I have read estimates that the Spanish Influenza had a 10%-20% mortality rate meaning that if you know 10 people with the flu, 1 or 2 of them would likely die. Imagine facing this fear in your own family?
No bullets would be able to take out the virus. No amount of stored up food and water would save you if you came down with the flu and knowing how to start a fire with a flint striker would be needless. I guess you could argue that staying locked in your home for the two years the virus was running its course could keep you safer and possibly alive, but what type of world would you come out to?
When you are considering your plans for survival, you should also think about the less fantastic scenarios that are possible. Instead of planning for Mad Max, you should plan for a simple but deadly sickness. This isn’t as cool as buying weapons or tactical training, but it could be just as likely. I am not putting down any of the other preparations as I have been making those too, but in the realm of being flexible you have to realize that we may face a disaster you haven’t planned for. The government might not send troops in to lock us up in FEMA camps. There may not be a horrible EMP event and we may not be fighting in the streets with foreign armies sent by the UN to put us down.
If you want to be flexible, look to history for other disasters and make those part of your plans too. The worst case is that nothing will ever happen and you will die a happy old wrong-headed person. That’s my wish for all of us.