I’ve been asked why I believe that planning for survival and emergency preparedness is so important in today’s modern world. The world has become modern in all its ways, with surpluses of every commodity, and wars are not as great a burden, nor as common as they once were. We still have strife within and between nations, but the nature of conflict has become less personal, and therefore seems to require less of a commitment towards it. But it happens far from our shores, so we are safe from war.

Food is more plentiful today than even just fifty years ago, and international aid is available for all who suffer from hunger. Of course, getting that aid to those who really need it can be quite a challenge, but it can be done. But famine happens on other continents, so we are safe from want.

Health care is also an abundant commodity, and available to all who require it. Transportation and communication in the United States has also become a second nature item, and everyone who desires a cell phone to carry around can get one easily, and cheaply. Internet access can be had by those who wish to use it as well. If you have no access in your home, most libraries have an access program in place that allows those who live in that community to use it free of charge. But ignorance and disease is a product of other nations, so we are safe from need.

We are safe from war, safe from want, and safe from need. Or so it would seem.

We seem to have everything we want here in the United States, so why would we invest in a year’s supply of food that we’re told we really don’t need. Why would we accumulate gardening tools, seeds and supplies to grow food in our back yards when we could simply run down to the grocer and by all the fresh vegetables we want?

Do we really need to stock up on water, fuel oil, lamps, candles and so forth? Do we really need to plan on alternative forms of transportation? Do we really need to look into buying property in the middle of nowhere and build a survival retreat? Do we really need to do any of the things I and others talk about when we discuss ways to prepare for the coming times? Is preparedness really a worthwhile endeavor given the abundance we have in our world today?

Well, no, not really. At least not if you are comfortable living in the same manner as the earthquake survivors in Porte au Prince are living today. Not if you don’t mind standing in line for hours to receive meager food rations. Not if you don’t mind putting off medical care because there are not enough staff and medical supplies to tend to everyone that wants it. Not if you don’t mind living in a surplus tent with no power for lights, no heat, no communications, no TV or radio, and insufficient sanitation.

Preparedness is not about running around with a semi auto rifle plinking away at the zombie looters and defending your block from incursion by the people on the next block. Preparedness is not about building a fortress to keep the world away. And preparedness is especially not about building a spacecraft to escape into the great unknown searching for a habitable planet.

But that is precisely what many people believe preparedness is.

What is preparedness and survivalism? In a way, we could simply say that preparedness is the process of becoming ready to survive after some calamity disrupts the world as we know it, and turns it into a much less habitable place to live.

There are several different ways of approaching the issue of preparedness and any one of them can be right, but instead of looking at the issue as a concept of what is right, and what is wrong, we should be looking at preparedness as a question of what is the most appropriate plan for my/our particular needs. Loading up on firearms may protect you, but the guns won’t feed you. You can hunt for game with them, but they won’t hunt game for you.

You can have fifty tonnes of long term storage food, but it won’t protect you. You can have a short wave radio and get information from outside your area, but it won’t give you clean potable water. And clean potable water won’t provide you with protein and other nutrients to keep you healthy and strong.

Survival is the process of your adapting to, and creating a new way of life because the life you have come to accept as being the norm, is gone. Preparedness is the process of your acceptance of the need to be ready to make the changes required to be able to adapt and create a new way of living.

You can prepare for the coming hard times by accumulating knowledge and skills, and then by accumulating supplies and equipment. Don’t make the mistake so many have made and run off an buy tons of supplies, and not learn how to use them. You’ll simply look upon them as a waste of money, then discard them chiding yourself for being foolish enough to buy them, resulting in the probability of your needing them later on, and not having them when life hits the skids and comes to a screeching halt.

Knowledge is life. With the proper knowledge you will be able to survive on much less than you probably think you can. Remember that back in the pioneer days, intrepid souls would head off into the unchartered wilderness with a musket, later rifle, perhaps a pistol or two, and a small pack with some pemmican, ground corn, a small sack of beans and maybe a chunk of dried pork, or similar fare. The outfit was rounded out with a woolen blanket and a good knife. These men lived for years on just what they could carry in their small packs and suffered not at all.

They could do this because they had the knowledge of how to find their own food. They knew how to hunt and trap. They knew what wild plants they could eat. They learned what plants would provide them with medicine to cure their ills. They knew the land. Today, we know the supermarket and pharmacy, and most of the serious hunting we do consists of clipping coupons in the Sunday paper and charging up and down the supermarket aisles while looking for bargains.

We have lost much of the knowledge that we have learned as a society over the last half century or so here in the US. Technology has made us dependent upon the outside for all of our needs. True, there are many who cling to what we now call the simpler ways, and in the long run, these people are much better off than most of the country. When the proverbial crap hits the fan, they will already know how to survive because they have planned to do so.

We can catch glimpses of what may come to pass by watching the news coming out of Haiti after the earthquakes wrought their damage. Hundreds of thousands if not millions are going without because they have to rely upon others to fend for them. Tent cities, food rations meted out, scarce water supplies, no money for their needs, and no jobs with which to earn money. They wait, huddled in small forced tent communities waiting for their rescuers to tell them what to do and where to go.

We say that this will never happen in such an advanced country as the united states, but is this a true statement? I think we would be wise to reflect upon the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and all of the other major hurricanes we have received. The wildfires and mudslides of the west coast. The recent cold spell that locked the Mideast and parts of the Midwest into a practically unheard of frigid, and crippling time.

Natural disasters occur nearly every day in some part of the world. We never hear of them because for the most part, it’s just part of life. People in other nations don’t have the things we do, so they have less to lose, and since they have less to lose, their perception between their lives before and after any calamity is quite different than what ours would be. Their lives are not mired down in possession and wealth.

Suppose for a moment that New York city received a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, the same as Haiti received. What would the outcome be? Skyscrapers would topple like dominos on a playroom floor. Millions of people would be killed and injured. Who would go to their rescue? We would rescue our own of course, but what would be the ultimate outcome of such an event?

It is unlikely we would see an international outpouring of aid such as we have seen in Haiti. In fact, I doubt that we would see any semblance of the same aid this nation gives to other nations at all. In part this is because in spite of what certain leaders would like us to believe, the United States is in fact a nation founded upon Christian values and ideology, and no other nation in the world can say that.

We are always ready to give aid where needed. And we are usually not only the first responder, but the greatest of contributors as well. Although, in many countries we are not welcome because of our beliefs. That is their loss.

But as we creep closer to the end of times we will see an increase in the n umbers and severity of calamities to strike around the world, and this nation shall not be held immune from such calamities. They will come. They will occur, and they will bring devastation. And they shall try our faith as never before.

And when those calamities strike, those who have prepared for them will survive and thrive, while others will curl up into a fetal position and die, crying in their stupidity.

Likely some of us will laugh and point at these people, telling them it’s what they deserve, and in some respects we would be right. But when the time comes, we will need to pause and reflect on the true meaning behind our actions that we have taken to become prepared to survive the coming times. We will see that it is not laughter and mocking these people need to hear, but the truth.

Certain things will be required of us as time goes by, and by being prepared we will be able to provide that which will be needed.

So, to get back to the original question as to why preparedness and survival planning are so important, we need to learn to read the signs. In the olden days a tracker could hunt his prey by reading the signs of the woods. Slightly bent twigs, scuffed dirt, bent branches all told of where his prey went. A farmer could read the weather forecast by looking at the sky and reading the signs from above. The type of clouds, a halo around the moon, the amount of dew upon the morning grass all told of what he may expect the weather to bring.

And so, too, we may discern what may come by reading the signs of the times. What are the signs, and how does today’s news relate to them? Funny, but this question isn’t a new one. Jesus’ disciples asked the very same question 2000 years ago. We can read His reply in Mathew 24, verses 6 and 7; 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

Very much what we see today, isn’t it? Wars are brewing, and being waged all over the globe, both as internal conflicts and between nations. Africa has become a continent rife with drought and starvation. Aids and other epidemics have scoured the entire planet. In the last one hundred years alone we have seen over one hundred earthquakes that have killed more than one thousand people, and in the last half century have seen more earthquakes that have killed 50,000 people of more than at any other time.

And in Matthew 24:8 we read; All these are the beginning of sorrows. And that is the one verse that should prod you into becoming prepared for the coming times. All of what we have seen thus far is merely the beginning of sorrows. Imagine what it shall be like when these sorrows become multiplied.

(This is part one of a continuing series about preparedness and survival. Continue reading with part 2 in Prepare and Defend, where we address some of the issues we need to think about as we develop our preparedness plans.)

For more on survivalism and preparedness, please visit my radio show here:

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