Defining a Modern Survivalist

      I often get asked by people, why do I practice and believe in survivalism?  To answer the question I often have to explain where the ideas come from first, and then why.  The words 'survivalism' and 'survivalist' are misunderstood, and often misinterpreted in my opinion.  When you use terms like these, you run the risk of people assuming that you are a military guy, gun nut, or wacko with a tin foil hat.  This, in reality, could not be further from the truth.  The terms are currently media's buzz words for ideas and practices that have been around since the dawning of man.  Show's like Discovery's Dual Survival, Man vs. Wild, and Les Stroud's Beyond Survival are becoming more and more popular and are watched by millions of viewers every week.  Magazines, websites, and blogs like this one, about camping, homesteading, and survival are getting more attention then ever.

     Though survivalism seems to be a new idea and it's popping up all over the place in media, its concepts are ancient.  It's been called many different things over the years; survivalism, homesteading, prepping, self-sufficiency, The Prepper Movement, etc.  The survivalist/prepper movement really got its start in the 1960's when global nuclear war became a very real threat.  People started to realize that all our modern conveniences could be gone in a flash, and our societies infrastructure was actually very fragile.  The movement gets, what I'll call "refreshed and renewed" every so many years when something big is on the horizon for humanity (i.e. nuclear war, Y2K bug, 2012.)  These 'movements' lose steam though, as people lose interest and stop caring once the impending doom has passed.  Many a businessman have made a fortune on these trends by playing into peoples' fears and selling ideas, and products that will "save you from the disaster".  You are starting to see that a lot right now with the approaching 2012 scare.

     Before the 60's, prepping and self-reliance did not need to be a movement because it really was just common sense and a way of life for most of the world.  Many of our grandparents remember that way of life as they grew up during those uncertain times.  They lived (though were probably children) at a time when indoor plumbing was not very common, and things like growing your own food, and preserving it for future use was normal for most households.  Most of that generation is now gone unfortunately, taking with them the knowledge that our now elder generations in the United States don't have.  We as a nation have been fortunate enough to have had many years of exceptional wealth.  All present generations only know these wealthy times and have never seen a real major disaster such as The Great Depression, or either World War.  Most of us have witnessed a few regional disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.  These events were drastic, especially in the areas where they happened, but for the most part did not effect our day to day lives.  Our current younger generations have no real survival knowledge beyond how to survive in our rich, and plentiful environment.  They don't get to hear the stories from the generations before that have the hands-on experience that most of us lack.  (Like when my Grandfather was young and had to walk to school 3 miles in the snow uphill, both ways!!  Maybe he exaggerated it a bit, but I'm sure it still sucked...)

     I do use the terms 'survival' and 'survivalism' often in this blog, but I do so with a purpose.  The purpose is to educate and bring awareness of something that we in America, and especially in N.Y.C., have already forgotten; self-reliance!  The modern survivalist is not about stockpiling as many guns and ammo as one possibly can, it's about preparing for realistic, very plausible events that can happen to us in our modern society.  It's about taking control of how prepared you are for these events, while not having to rely on others (i.e. the government.) 

     To me survivalism is more about controlling my own destiny, without having to rely on those that I do not trust.  Self-reliance allows me to live comfortably and confidently with the knowledge that no matter what disaster happens to me and those I love, I am in control of how prepared we are.  No one can control the disaster or if you will even survive it.  That is the unknown, it's out of our control, and should be let go of.  Knowing I can control how prepared I am for whatever disaster (large or small) comes my way without relying on outside help, (that may never come) allows me to live without fear.

     Here is a link to a podcast about Prepping from "The Survival Podcast".  It is a worth-while listen, and goes a bit more into detail of why he, and other people believe survivalism is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved ones, which I agree with completely.
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