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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thoughts on Preparedness

I just met this weekend with a group of " preparedness folk." They are on a farm about 30 miles from here. I have become interested in the subject after reading "One Second After" (NYT best seller, highly recommended!) and some James Wesley Rawles stuff. I was surprised at who they were and the mindset I encountered. A couple of observations:

1) The root idea is that whether or not some disaster hits, we are WAY WAY WAY too dependent on a very fragile and tenuous energy and distribution grid. Raising your own chickens, goats, vegetables, rabbits, turkeys, pigs and cows is preferable (and more nutritious and tasty!) to standing around in a Kroger (think "post Katrina") looking at the empty aisles.

2) They were "green" but green in a good way, and not the fashionable mindless silliness coming out of the "environmentally conscious" crowd. (sorry if my contempt shows here)

I am talking about using a local stream to turn a box of old alternators from junked cars to produce current to charge batteries, building a steam fired boiler to run a generator, and lots of other cool ideas that are scavenged from junkyards...., including using a scrapped walk in cooler from a convenience store for a chicken coop (no insulation needed, and no heat source needed during cold weather).

3) The mark of an "advanced" society is division of labor, with the dependency on each other coming from specialization of labor being more efficient and less costly. However, we have evolved into a society of urban dwellers which produce NOTHING necessary for root survival needs. Cities are extremely dependent on everything being trucked in, and the ones who make the most money are the ones most efficient in distribution rather than production (think "Wal Mart"). If that distribution system is disrupted, due to a failure of the electrical grid or a fuel supply disruption, we would be helpless. These folks recognize that.

4) I did not meet any tin foil hat folks, which surprised me. There were realtors, veterinarians, an auto parts distributor, a programmer, a cop, and a contract security guy (a "Blackwater" type, although he never worked for Xe). They were just normal folks living their lives, but concerned about the potential for future instability of a calamitous nature.

5) I was surprised at the political make-up of the group. I expected to see a bunch of rabid Republicans, fearful of antichrist Obama and the New World Order, blah blah blah. Rather, they were amazingly cynical of any politics, and were just as critical of Reagan (for different reasons) as Obama. Their attitude was more that of folks just trying to live their lives while being confident that their best shot at any change would come from being fiercely independent and doing what they could to remain so.

6) I was probably the biggest Bible banger out there. No religious zealotry at all. In my life, I have encountered a BUNCH of religious wack jobs. I expected this crowd to be a magnet for them. It wasn't

7) I was also surprised about their attitude about guns. I expected to find a bunch of hyperventilating folks screaming out MOLON LABE as a password or something to enter the farm. Instead, I encountered a crowd of mostly ex-military guys who understood that guns are TOOLS. They all hunt (mostly deer, but also squirrel, turkey, dove, and some varmints), and they all believe that they have a duty and a right to protect their families themselves and their freedoms and rights against all who would challenge them. Their attitude was that you would no more expect to defend rights and freedoms without guns than try to change a tire without a jack. Especially enlightening to me were the remarks of the contract security guy who worked security in Kosovo. Rather than sitting on his pile of weapons fervently wishing for social collapse so he could play "Rambo" or something, he just emphatically declared that if you ever lived in a society where the social order even partially breaks down, you will want to prepare for it here, but no one in his right mind would wish it.

7) The final funny observation is how close these guys are with all the ex-hippie counterculture who have moved south from Chapel Hill as the area has become completely yuppified. In fact, one of the guys there at the group was a total stoner who had essentially moved down to smoke his own hydroponic, live cheaply, eat his own "organic" produce, and shoot, prepare, and jerk his own venison. The two types of "fringe" groups have a sort of affinity for each other, even if many other ideas are polarized apart.

These folks were not living on the farm. There are only three families there. However, they are all affiliated with it and looking to it as a kind of resource/preparedness area in the event of
1) a major earthquake (we sit on a HUGE faultline in NC.... I never knew that)
2) a failure of the oil distribution system
3) a major currency collapse (my bets are on this one as having the best odds)
4) a major terrorist attack on the US.
5) ..... you fill in the blank.

Carole and I are not moving down there (smile), but we are interested in some people whose ideas about simplicity and "back to nature" mirror what we would like to see ourselves. I think "survival" is an improper goal for a Christian. We are supposed to be "dead" already, having surrendered all this stuff anyway. I do think that "working with your hands so that you may have something to share with those in need" is a proper goal for myself, though.

We will see what transpires.