I’ve seen a common meme popping up nearly everywhere of late, so it’s only reasonable that I should address it. The particular idea I have in mind can be phrased as: “What do I bring to the table?” In simpler terms, what knowledge or skills do I have that will help me/make me useful after a collapse?
As so often happens when we talk survivalist skills, we start talking about “post-Big Collapse” ideas. A typical list will include a lot of skills to help rebuild society: engineers and architects, doctors and dentists, blacksmiths and mechanics. My personal belief is that a lot of those skills will take care of themselves the old-fashioned way: trial and error. Even if a Big Collapse/Mad-Max scenario comes about (which I still consider highly unlikely), the surrounding infrastructure of the modern world won’t go away overnight. Sure, there might not be any power from the electric lines, or water from the faucets, but all of the structures will still be there, and can be scavenged for re-use. (In one of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy “collapse” book series, the protagonists even scavenge vehicle leaf-springs for use as swords.)
I think that a more necessary set of skills–particularly right at the start of a post-collapse scenario–are quite a bit more basic. Simple survival (which probably won’t be very “simple”) is a good start–getting shelter, potable water, and food. If you’ve been prepping, you’ll probably be set, at least with the latter two, and rigging even a temporary shelter is pretty easy. (If you’re “bugging-in”, then you’ll have no problem with even that part.) In the slightly longer term, “food” requires growing crops and/or gathering wild plants. Livestock is good too, if you’ve got the room for it. I’m baffled by the number of preppers who plan on gardening and growing livestock “after the collapse,” but don’t do so now–when our vast commercial infrastructure is available to easily supply the things we can’t make, the better to get us started. A good principle to remember: If you don’t have it before a collapse, you’re not likely to be able to get it easily after one.
Once the major part of the mess has occurred, and the population has more-or-less situated itself, there are a lot of things that will be needed, and jobs for everybody in the post-collapse society. For instance, a pair of good friends who would likely bug-out to my homestead are, well, elderly–into their mid-60’s. They’re not in shape, generally, to do much of the work around the farm, beyond weeding the vegetable beds and a few other light chores. They do, however, have lots of “institutional knowledge.” They have experienced a lot; they have the patience to deal with kids, and all of these factors combine to make them excellent teachers. (Would it be a “traditional” school education? No; I think it would be a lot more practical, though, particularly in the long run.)
Then there are some creature comforts: I know folks who couldn’t grow a dandelion if they tried; give them a random set of ingredients, however, and they’ll cook something delicious. Imagine what they could do with all that stored food, post-collapse… At the least, it would be more bearable, if not downright pleasant. There will also always be other little things to be done: someone has to mind the fire, during the winter; clothes will need mending or making; someone will have to haul water from the well or stream. Even if you can’t fix a toilet, as a recent commenter put it, there will be something you can find to make yourself useful.
Next week, I hope to go over bug-out-bags and get-home-bags, as well as to talk about my 72-hour kit. It’s time for the seasons to turn, so it’s time to shift to the cold-weather bags!