First off let me start by saying that reading your blog has been a very refreshing change of pace. Often most blogs on survivalism also come with crazy white supremacist or anti-government rhetoric, theres also a lot of what I like to call “lone rangers” building bunkers, stockpiling ammo, food, water…
And these things are very advisable but one thing I see them doing is isolating themselves from neighbours who might actually be helpful to be on good terms with.
I am from rural Montana and for some reason this region attracts a very large number of anti-social bunker dwellers and militia types who I feel quite frankly arent just preparing for disaster, but are praying for one.
I am a marine infantryman and have spent considerable time in war zones, disaster areas, and places where mob-rule, drug lords, or organized crime are the closest thing to law that people have. This idea of the rugged individual standing atop a pile of MREs and ammo in a heroic last stand seems to be a distinctively american one.
Ive been in many firefights, armed stand offs, even spent 6 hours being hunted by a sniper once. I can say that none of the things I have survived, nor locals ive seen surviving did so soley because of their ruggedly individualistic defiance and personal grit. I lived because I had a unit of good men I could trust watching my back as I watched thiers and most locals were very self reliant, but they were always networking with each other for the things they couldnt make or get by themselves.
“help me dig this well and I will help you fix your car”
“If we hear shooting at your house we will come if you will do the same for us”
“If anyone sees the rebels coming everyone call everyone else”
“We can all pool money for a set of solar panels to charge our batteries”
In one case where our patrol was mistaken as hostile I actually saw a 12 year old boy initiate a “phone tree” which was able to evacuate a village of 2,000 people in 20 minutes, an hour later all villages in that valley had sought refuge in the surrounding mountains, they finally emerged when we convinced them we werent there for hostile purposes.
I think it is a very good idea to address community as a survival strategy, because I can and do tell a lot of these lone rangers my experiences in combat and hostile environments “It doesnt matter how good a shot you are or how many guns you have buried in your back yard, if 15 people decide they are coming into your house the best you can do on your own is run, or die for a pile of food and ammo”
Im not saying people and thier neighbours need to go full vigilante, but maybe setting up a watch, a community fall back area, or early warning phone or hand held radio system could be a much more sound tactic than re-enacting their favourite rambo movie.
These days everyone with a keyboard and internet connection is a survival expert, so that kind of misconception is pretty common. People think they’ll be safe because they live far from cities, that an economic collapse won’t affect them because they grow their own food (guess, they never heard about people losing their farm to the bank) or that they’ll never need to evacuate their home “because we already live in our bug out location” (which by definition is impossible, given that a BOL is where you go when your primary residence is compromised). The thing is, people think these things but they’ve never actually had to try them for real. They think this or that will work out a certain way “when SHTF”, but they’ve never seen what happens when SHTF for real nor have they seriously researched the topic.
The kind of personality you describe is very common in our community. In most cases its people that have problems socializing, they just don’t like people and they rationalize their personal preferences by convincing themselves that isolation is in some way a wise preparedness strategy. Of course, as you correctly state, that’s not the case.
Being isolated and being on your own only makes you an easier target. Even if you fortify your position so as to not be a “soft” target, being a lonely tough nut only means no one will hear you when you crack. If anyone has managed to make the solo bunker idea work, its simply because they never had to actually put it through a real large scale disaster. It will not work long term with severe crime and social unrest. Its like my 7 year old’s cardboard and tape spaceship: It’s a fantastic spaceship as long as you don’t actually use it as one.
Within a socioeconomic collapse, which is the area I have the most experience with, I can assure you that you’ll need all the help you can get. With finding employment, with getting some help with the house and kids when you’re studying or working and just not around and you definitely need help regarding crime, everything from neighbours watching after one another, to hiring security or organizing a neighbourhood watch.
Having said all this, you will not always get the help that you need. Expect to be disappointed. A lot. In fact 9 out of 10 people will not be there for you when SHTF in spite of what they promised earlier. I have a handful of real friends, that have invited me and my family to stay at their home for as long as I need it and actually meant it, a friend that would literally catch a bullet for me, and I’ve met people that have let me down even with the smallest favour. A person I though was a friend did just that when I asked for a small favour. He got back to me the following day explaining he couldn’t do what I asked, but if I was ever caught in a mountain in the middle of a snow storm he would gladly drive up there to save me. We don’t get to pick the kind of help we need, that’s kind of the nature of a situation which involves asking for a favour. My advice would be to see if you can count on people for small things first, something that maybe isn’t a big deal and you could easily take care of yourself, but still ask just to see if your friendship is real or not and if you can count with that person. If they don’t come through for the little things you then don’t expect them to be there when SHTF bad.
When there’s considerable socioeconomic unrest, then there’s other factors to keep in mind. Maybe some people maybe CANT help you, even if they want, because they have their own problems and are already way over their heads. Then again, some people may pleasantly surprise you, maybe people you never expected much of. You just have to put yourself out there and make friends, make connections, test them and see what you’re working with for real when the chips are down.
When SHTF, you’ll need all the help you can get and so will the people around you. Given that in most cases people will not be as dependable as we’d like, all the more reason to work harder at it, build and strengthen those relationships with friends, family and neighbours.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.