What is a "Survivalist"?

[This article by Bro. Ryan was originally published in 2010]

If a economic crash happens, the worth of the dollar won't be the only thing going down. Civil order, grocery store supply lines and even utilities will go down with it.

We have all seen the Hollywood made movies that present "Survivalist" characters as crazed, paranoid anti-social personalities. Hollywood is a hot-bed of propaganda and mental brain-washing, plan and simple. California, the home of Hollywood, is sometimes referred to as "The Left Coast". This is partly due to the entertainment industry there and the Left, Liberal leanings of script writers, movie actors and television stars. Yet not all actors are politically and socially Liberal. As a political and social commentator, and a Christian minister, I do not see people in "black and white terms", not when it comes to individuals. I reject stereotypes because they are not a way to look at people in a realistic manner. I am a Realist, thus my world view is based on Realism. It is this Realism that not only helps me to deal with people on an individualistic manner, but also leads me to live a Survivalist lifestyle.

Tornadoes don't just hit trailer parks and disasters of all types can hit any family.

People, groups of people and sub-cultures, can be thought of in stereotypical manners. But only if those "stereotypes" are accurate and thus realistically applicable. Yet who defines a particular stereotype of a given sub-culture group? Do movies and television shows present whatever sub-culture group you may consider yourself  being a member of in an accurate manner?
We all are members of some group, or grouping, of mini-cultures. Whether you are elderly, young, or middle-aged we all have interests that we share with others.  It can be art's and crafts, music or sports that we pursue with passion. Our political activism, historical research or religious practices, or hobbies, that we devote much of our life to is shared by others of like mind. This grouping of people of like interests and lifestyles is what is known as a "sub-culture". I think it is only fair to let sub-cultures define themselves and not let "outsiders" define a group they are not a part of. In addition if you let movies and t.v. shows tell you what a group is all about you will only gain a "Hollywood stereotype" perception of that group.

Survivalism is a family value.

In letting sub-cultures and collectives of people of like interests or lifestyles explain themselves you are going to get a better outlook of those people. That is not to say you shouldn't consider the observations of  a culture group by non-member individuals, but as an outsider looking in you need to consider all information.
Members of religious cults will present their own side of their group, and to get the other side one must consult those who are not members, but have intimate and accurate information as well.
Bikers, the rough and tumble ones, define themselves as "One Percenters" ("1%'rs"). They call themselves that and even have a specific looking patch they sew on their leather jackets and vests. The specific tattoo they tattoo on their bodies looks somewhat like the design of the clothing patch. The very term "One Percenter Biker" defines that they are of the "one percent of motorcycle enthusiasts that live the outlaw lifestyle".
Urban youth that label themselves "Thugs" and "Gangstas" are not being slandered when they are called those terms by non-gangbangers and non-street criminals.
Tattoo enthusiasts enjoy the world of Skin Art and certainly are not all ex-convicts or gang members. The tattoo sub-culture can not be defined by the sub-cultures of street-gangs and outlaw bikers who also have tattoos.

Having a few weeks to a few months worth of food supplies is not an act of paranoia, it is an act of Preparation.

In saying all of this I am hoping to open your mind to considering taking up the Survivalist lifestyle. If your mind is somewhat prejudiced towards the very idea, allow me to help put your fears at rest. If Hollywood stereotypes and media news stories have conditioned you to have a mental "knee-jerk reaction" to Survivalists and Survivalism let me, an actual Survivalist, explain what Survivalism is, and is not. In so doing you will get a true explanation of Survivalism from a real Survivalist, and not some hyped-up media story or false movie portrayal.
Let me first say that I believe everyone should be a Survivalist. The benefits of being Prepared, in the event of an emergency are well worth overcoming any initial apprehensions you may have to being called a "Survivalist".

Making serious effort to Prepare for a house fire does not mean you are paranoid. It just means you are Prepared.

Many Survivalist try to avoid the label of Survivalist by referring to themselves as simply being "Prepared individuals". Though that is an accurate description, it is not a practical term for such an individual. The fact is people who "Prepare" to out-ride the "storms" of life are "Preparing" to "Survive" those storms.
Not all of life's "storms" are life-threatening, but they are uncomfortable situations non-the-less. That uncomfortableness can be eased by simply making and taking Preparations. A good example of a non-life-threatening situation is when the electricity goes out in your neighborhood for a 24 hour period. By making sure you have pre-purchased flashlights and kept fresh, unused batteries for said flashlights you have Prepared yourself for such an event. The same principle applies to having smoke-detectors, a fire extinquisher, and a first aid kit in your home. If you have such items does that mean you are a Survivalist? Well no, but it does make you a budding one, and the beginning steps towards being coming a full fledged Prepared Survivalist.

There are Preparedness companies that manufacture and sale food stuffs that have long shelf-lives and can be bought in bulk.

The very term "Survivalist" may conjure up images in your mind of people who are "Preparing to Survive the End Times", or some apocalyptic event. Gun-toting, camouflaged wearing individuals who are seemingly obsessed with the coming of "Armageddon". First let me say to each-is-his-own and if a person wants to live their life like that then so what? I'm not like that and neither are the vast majority of Survivalists. Yes, some are, and that is their right to be so. Secondly I would like to remind you that large scale catastrophic events have happened in the earth's long history. Meteor strikes, multiple volcanic eruptions, even mini-ice ages have occurred, and according to scientists will happen again. Most Americans are aware of  geologists warnings about imminent major earthquakes due Southern California, and the Mid-West area of America. Man-made events such as collapses of governments, economic crashes and mass social upheavals have, do and will always occur as well. No people and no country is immune to major disruptions in daily life, whether man made or natural events.

Having fuels such as gas for vehicles and kerosene for heaters stocked up will be well worth the effort if supplies get interrupted to your area for any length of time. Just be sure to store them safely.

Life, with it's many potential horrors it can throw at you, does not care whether you are ignorant of potential dangers or simply choose to ignore the eventualities of bad times. None of us hope for or want a house fire, but if we dare to accept the reality of our homes catching fire, and act in a responsible manner, we can avoid undue dangers. We practice fire safety around our homes, such as not overloading electrical outlets or carelessly leaving frying pans full of grease on a hot stove. Yet, with all of our precautions to avoid what  house fire events we can, we still accept the reality that they can happen to us and purchase smoke detectors and fire extinquishers.
Survivalists live in reality and take realistic precautions to avoid what troubles they can.
Survivalists also realize that not all troubles can be avoided and Prepare themselves to Survive those troubling events and troubled times.
Survivalists Prepare themselves by purchasing what items they deem necessary to make it through Hard Times.
Survivalists also constantly seek to learn information and skills that will help them if ever needed.
Survivalism isn't about holing-up in the backwoods or in a bunker somewhere, it is about taking responsibility for ones own life and loved-ones. A Survivalist realizes bad things, or Hard Times, can come to anyone and into any of out lives. Those Hard Times don't have to even involve whole communities. Instead personal household economic Hard Times can simply hit your family and being Prepared and having Preparations can help ease those Bad Times and make them a little easier. If your financial income comes to $0 for a time period, having plenty of food, and needed household items and toiletries stocked up before hand is only wisdom in practice.

The very first thing a person can, and should begin to store up is safe, drinkable water.

Whether it be a small scale family disaster or a large nationwide one being Prepared before Hard Times hits makes only sense. To me it should be common sense, but in the modern age in which we live, most have become accustomed to the many modern comforts we have. Clean drinking water, food availability and medical help are all taken for granite that they will always be there. Even if people realize the daily needs of life can be taken away, they assume they will be restored in a timely fashion and therefore don't Prepare.
The Government is looked to like a "Big Brother" that will always be there to "protect and serve" if things go bad on the playground of life. This is a very childish and dependent way to live one's adult life, in my opinion.
Not only can the Government (local, State or Federal) fail in providing the necessities of life in an emergency,  but Government agencies are not very efficient at doing so.

A well stocked and thought out supply of first aid and medical items is something every home should have.

Finally being a Survivalist is not just having a hunting rifle, box of ammunition, hunting knife and some cases of canned food. A Survivalist certainly has those things, but the Survivalist Way of Life is a Life Philosophy all in itself. A Survivalist thinks things through, and considers eventual problems that may arise. It is not a paranoid way of looking at life, but a mature and intelligent one. A Survivalist will also have a gun cleaning kit and spare parts for that rifle. He would have enough ammo to last a lifetime of use hunting, and if need be self-defense. A Survivalist will also "stock-up" on information about, and skill with, that rifle. He will seek to learn  the basics about repairing or replacing worn parts on that firearm and know how to use it well. The same Principle of Survivalism is applied to the hunting sheath knife. It will be a knife of both good quality and design. A Survivalist will also have a sharpening stone, sharpening system or gadget to keep that knife in working order. A Survivalist won't just have a few cases of canned foods, he/she will have other foods put away as well. Survivalists rotate their food stuffs and keeps them fresh by eating what foods he/she stores and faithfully replacing what is eaten.

Survivalists are planners and think out their Survival Plans. Survivalists don't fail to plan because they don't plan on failing. No one can Prepare for everything in life, but one thing is for sure if you fail to Prepare, you Prepare to fail

Begin to become a more Prepared person today, and a Survivor tomorrow. Make a list of the things you use everyday and would miss if you couldn't go to a store for a month.