Monday, October 17, 2022

Preparedness vs. Survival: What's the Difference, and is it important?

By Tim Gamble

Are you a prepper or a survivalist? Are you into preparedness or survivalism? Don't these words mean basically the same thing? Is the difference really important?

In my opinion, there is a major difference between these words, and that difference is important. Let me explain:

Prepper / Prepping / Preparedness - These words describe an attempt to get ready (be prepared) for short-term disasters that take place within a larger societal context of stability and normalcy. Examples include house fires, wild fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, a job loss, or an unexpected death in the family. Even most recessions fall into this category, since according to economic historians past recessions lasted an average of only 11 months. 

The real key to the preparations for these disasters, though potentially catastrophic for the individuals involved, is the underlying assumption that eventually things will return to normal. Homes and businesses will be rebuilt. The unemployed will find new jobs. Insurance will pay out. Government will step in. Law and order will be restored. Families will grieve for lost loved ones, then move on with their lives. And civilization as we have known it will continue onwards.

Survival / Survivalism / Survivalist - These words describe an attitude, backed up by actions, of resilience in the face of any adversity or event, regardless of length or severity. Most importantly, it does not include any underlying assumption that things will eventually return to normal. In fact, it is often assumed that civilization, as we have known it, will not carry on, but rather will collapse or morph into something currently unrecognizable. 

Therefore. survivalists do not look to government to eventually save the day. Nor do they count on the stability of current civilization. They understand the fragility of our infrastructure, supply chains, power grid, monetary system, legal system, and so forth. Those of us of a religious bent also see the intentional degradation of traditional values, and even basic concepts such as the family.

I am a survivalist, although I do include preparedness for the shorter term events that happen in life. But my long-term goal is to survive, and help family and friends survive, what I think is going to be a civilization-ending time period, which could last decades. 

Stockpiling food and other supplies will help in the short and mid term, but what is needed in the long term is self-reliance as individuals, families, communities, and tribes. Having a well-stocked pantry is great for a prepper, but a survivalist must also consider how replace all that food when it runs out and the store shelves are still not restocked. 

Although it may seem like a contradiction, survival means both building long term self-reliance AND budling self-reliant communities and tribes of like-minded people. Preparedness is easy - take a bunch of money, go to the store and buy a lot of stuff (yes, I am oversimplifying, but please bear with me). Becoming self-reliant is much more difficult because it takes learning, effort, and time, not just money. And building community and tribe is much more difficult still, because it also takes trust and suppressing ego. But those are topics for future articles.

Ad: Survivalist Family: Prepared Americans for a Strong America, by Pastor Joe Fox (Viking Preparedness), is a great guide to beginner and intermediate preparedness and survival. Highly recommended. 


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