Before it does another generation’s worth of damage to the American psyche, let’s put an end to the foul reign of “Self-Reliance” and let the scholars pick over the meaning of its carcass. One question first, though: Is there anything worth salvaging among the spiritualist ramblings, obscure metaphysics and aphorisms so pandering that Joel Osteen might think twice about delivering them? Is there an essential part of Emerson’s signature essay that we’ve somehow lost sight of?
Action is a part of self-reliance, but so is introspection, else how will you know what action to take? We’ve got to remain fixed on our own path, and can’t know what that path is unless we’re tuned into our true wants and desires, and are able to admit that those aims are valid — even if they’re not connected to the kind of status markers of which society typically approves.
Finelli sits across from me at the food court picnic table inside the Sam’s Club on Sunshine Street, where he requested we meet. The retired computer systems designer-turned–radio show host and homesteader has salt and pepper hair, wears a plaid shirt and jeans and carries a .45-caliber automatic firearm on his person (he won’t say where). Below his strong jawline hangs a leather bag full of crushed sapphire, meant to enhance his overall health.
And why shouldn’t they? National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers doesn’t exactly help viewers understand the plight of the average prepper, the one without 60 guns, scuba diving equipment, a bunker and an armored personnel carrier. “I knew going into it that they would try to sensationalize a lot of stuff,” says Allen, a Springfield prepper who refused to divulge his last name; he appeared on the show in 2012 showing off his aquaponics setup. “If Doomsday Preppers had shown typical preppers on a typical day, it would’ve been pretty boring.”
Over the phone from the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Shields attributed the spike to the onslaught of natural disasters that left thousands of Americans without food in 2017, and rattled many more. “You got the hurricane that hit Florida, you got the hurricane that hit the Houston area, you got the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico,” he said. “Geologists are coming out and saying that California is severely overdue for a big earthquake. You got these major events that are taking place that affect mainstream America. So how do you protect your family?”
Opening and staffing the EOC is one of the primary missions of the Health Emergency Response Operations unit. Specific tasks can include management of patient movement operations, establishing and staffing an alternate care site, providing resources to support hospitals and alternate care sites, supporting mass care and other emergency support functions.
Viewed in light of self, history is thus the biography of a few unusually powerful figures. Having emphasized the importance of nonconformity, he begins to explore the philosophical basis for self-reliance. According to Emerson, there is an instinct or intuition in each individual drawing upon the Universal Spirit as the ever-dependable guiding principle. Because of the identification of intuition with the Universal Spirit, one is simply following its command when one acts in accordance with one’s intuition. The presence of the self-sufficing and self-contained Universal Spirit in each individual thus justifies one’s living in and for the present without having to refer either to the past or to the future.
This is a very slim little book that for at least two reasons might take longer than it takes to read a much bigger book. First, it compacts some powerful thoughts that require time to digest and translate into action. Second, although Emerson is sometimes referred to as a great writer, those who read both Emerson and Thoreau might find Emerson's writing style less crystal clear than Thoreau's, possibly because writing styles have changed and Emerson was 17 years older than Thoreau. Anyway, it's well worth the effort to digest this little gem.
In his book Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times, Mitchell, the sociology professor, develops a working theory of survivalism as a response to living in a society where every object we could possibly need is already taken care of for us. “The shelves are full, and the channels are full,” Richard tells me over the phone. “This is a response to a culture that has stripped away from us our sense of efficacy, our capacity to craft culture.”
Young’s observations rang true: Though the Wise Company meals would keep me alive in the event of an emergency, they were simply a lot more carbheavy, with a lot less animal protein and a lot fewer vegetables, than what I eat on a typical day (many of the Wise meals I bought substituted small globules of vegetable protein for actual meat). For the next two days, I supplemented my diet with freeze-dried vegetables, fruit, and yogurt I’d bought from another company, called Thrive Life, and felt the low-bloodsugar sensation dissipate. (Wise Company also sells individual ingredients, in addition to full meals, but I thought I’d diversify my sources.)
Bogwalker, a Washington state native with a degree in ecological agriculture who built much of the compound with her own two hands, says she considers herself much more of a homesteader than a prepper. Still, she says she’s seen many women who identify as preppers take her courses. “I think no matter where you are on the spectrum with your definition of prepper, a lot of the people, probably 65 percent of my students, are curious about the future,” Bogwalker says.
I bought this for my son because I believe the greatest gift we can give a child is self reliance. In the days of enabling this book is timely and will help infuse the independence that every child needs to survive. The basic concepts of self trust, self acceptance and embracing individuality. I love the fluidity of Emerson. He was already one of my favorites but this book really resonates with me and many levels. It is my mission to raise my son and daughter with these ideas that will sustain them when I'm gone. "Nothing will bring you peace but yourself" RWE
For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. The by-standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend's parlour. If this aversation had its origin in contempt and resistance like his own, he might well go home with a sad countenance; but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs. Yet is the discontent of the multitude more formidable than that of the senate and the college. It is easy enough for a firm man who knows the world to brook the rage of the cultivated classes. Their rage is decorous and prudent, for they are timid as being very vulnerable themselves. But when to their feminine rage the indignation of the people is added, when the ignorant and the poor are aroused, when the unintelligent brute force that lies at the bottom of society is made to growl and mow, it needs the habit of magnanimity and religion to treat it godlike as a trifle of no concernment.
I am guessing, I am the homesteader. Or, I would call it “shelter in place prepper”. Since, I am in advanced age, I don’t have the mobility of a 20 year old, to bug out. The problem, I see with a homesteader, is if you don’t have the arms and man power to defend what you, then it will all be taken away. Reason, I am into hiding food in plain site. Pecan trees, oak trees, black berry patch, mushrooms, and such.
If there was anything my freeze-dried food experiment taught me, it was how lucky I was to be able to walk down the street and buy a sandwich whenever I wanted to—but also how far I was from being self-reliant in the more quotidian sense. If freeze-dried meals are becoming increasingly popular in America, then maybe it’s because many of us realize that if something really bad happened, we wouldn’t know the first thing about surviving for a week on the ingredients lying around in our pantry. But as we continue to be bombarded by headlines foreshadowing epic floods, economic collapse, and nuclear escalation, there’s nothing wrong with finding a little peace of mind in a bag of dehydrated Chicken A La King.
While media coverage has often focused on a certain gun-toting, masculine segment of the subculture, both women described being drawn to prepping as a form of female self-empowerment. As Bedford sees it, finding yourself unprepared in the midst of a crisis can be a “terrible feeling of weakness” for a mother. “It makes sense to be empowered and trained and have the right supplies—and in this case, to have extra food on hand—because as a mom in particular, your family just relies on you,” she said.
“Self-trust is the first secret of success, the belief that if you are here the authorities of the universe put you here, and for cause, or with some task strictly appointed you in your constitution, and so long as you work at that you are well and successful. It by no means consists in rushing prematurely to a showy feat that shall catch the eye and satisfy spectators. It is enough if you work in the right direction.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude
1. In what prayers do men allow themselves! That which they call a holy office is not so much as brave and manly. Prayer looks abroad and asks for some foreign addition to come through some foreign virtue, and loses itself in endless mazes of natural and supernatural, and mediatorial and miraculous. Prayer that craves a particular commodity,--any thing less than all good,--is vicious. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft. It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg. He will then see prayer in all action. The prayer of the farmer kneeling in his field to weed it, the prayer of the rower kneeling with the stroke of his oar, are true prayers heard throughout nature, though for cheap ends. Caratach, in Fletcher's Bonduca, when admonished to inquire the mind of the god Audate, replies, --
Other newsletters and books followed in the wake of Ruff's first publication. In 1975, Kurt Saxon began publishing a monthly tabloid-size newsletter called The Survivor, which combined Saxon's editorials with reprints of 19th century and early 20th century writings on various pioneer skills and old technologies. Kurt Saxon used the term survivalist to describe the movement, and he claims to have coined the term.
Imagine the kind of abuse your body will go through when things do get crazy. Depending upon the situation, you might have to swim for hours and walk for days! You might have to battle through extreme weather and take down several bad guys (or girls). Now, this may be a bit of an exaggeration – but you never know until it’s time to jump into action! Preparing for survival isn’t any different than preparing for war. So to be a real prepper, you have to have an exercise and diet plan.
If we cannot at once rise to the sanctities of obedience and faith, let us at least resist our temptations; let us enter into the state of war, and wake Thor and Woden, courage and constancy, in our Saxon breasts. This is to be done in our smooth times by speaking the truth. Check this lying hospitality and lying affection. Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse. Say to them, O father, O mother, O wife, O brother, O friend, I have lived with you after appearances hitherto. Henceforward I am the truth's. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law. I will have no covenants but proximities. I shall endeavour to nourish my parents, to support my family, to be the chaste husband of one wife, — but these relations I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men's, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. — But so you may give these friends pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility. Besides, all persons have their moments of reason, when they look out into the region of absolute truth; then will they justify me, and do the same thing.
From 1836 into 1837, Emerson presented a series of lectures on the philosophy of history at Boston's Masonic Temple. These lectures were never published separately, but many of his thoughts in these were later used in "Self-Reliance" and several other essays. Later lectures by Emerson led to public censure of his radical views, the staunch defense of individualism in "Self-Reliance" being a possible reaction to that censure.
Religion, however, has everything to do with prepping—there are things about your faith that affect the way you live, Fletch says, offering me an example. “Today, a great deal [on the menu] was the special you had,” he says. “Every one of the specials had pork in it. Well, depending on your belief system and where you’re coming from, Dan, you could’ve made several decisions about me.” He’s right; I could’ve thought he assumed the breakfast was on me, so he ordered the most expensive dish on the menu. And those assumptions, he says, can break up a group. “If 99 percent of the people in your group don’t eat pork, and you bring in some person eating a ham sandwich next to you, that’s going to cause some conflict.”
“The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. Act singly, and what you have already done singly will justify you now.”
Terrorist attacks including the 911 plane attacks, bombings in London, Madrid, Bali and many other places, led to a strong online interest in discussing personal readiness and self reliance. Fueled by United States disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Ike and international disasters including earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia, Chile, Japan and elsewhere, the Prepper Movement gained a lot of momentum without having a particular date in mind (unlike Y2K) which led to many people recognizing a need to change their lives to be more prepared and self reliant.
For years I blamed Mr. Sideways — and the money fever of the 1980s — for this weird episode of hucksterism in English class. But that was being unfair. Our teacher had merely fallen under the spell, like countless others before and after, of the most pernicious piece of literature in the American canon. The whim that inspired him to lead a seminar in house-flipping to a stupefied under-age audience was Emerson’s handiwork. “All that Adam had,” he goads in his essay “Nature,” “all that Caesar could, you have and can do.” Oh, the deception! The rank insincerity! It’s just like the Devil in Mutton Chops to promise an orgiastic communion fit for the gods, only to deliver a gospel of “self-conceit so intensely intellectual,” as Melville complained, “that at first one hesitates to call it by its right name.”
In the late 1990’s there was a resurgence of interest in Preparedness stemming from fears that computer systems would fail and society would collapse due to the “Y2K Bug”. The Y2K Bug concern revolved around the potential for computers to not be able to handle the year changing back to “00” which had not previously happened in the lifetime of computers. While it turned out the the Y2K bug was successfully neutralized, the world stood on edge at the turn of the century, concerned that society would collapse from a catastrophic computer failure.
Today, Luther says she keeps a pantry with three different levels of “defense.” The first consists of boxes of cereal, frozen foods, and other items you might fall back on if you couldn’t make it to the grocery store for a week or two. The second, her “short-term” food storage, includes canned goods and other items with a longer shelf life — “Stuff you’d use if perhaps you lost a stream of income and times were tight for a few months,” Luther explains. The third is her long-term food storage: Mylar bags full of dry goods like beans, rice, and wheatberries, as well as some freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, and meat. Layer three, she says, is for “a situation in which all hell has broken loose.”
There are different ways to get you properly prepared with a one year food supply for you and your family. The trick is knowing just how much you have to spend and how fast you want to get it. This might seem like a daunting task, but Cheryl gave us a great break down of just what is needed. Put it in your plan and you'll hardly feel a pinch of financial pain.
This group has a primary concern with maintaining some form of legal system and social cohesion after a breakdown in the technical infrastructure of society. They are interested in works like The Postman by David Brin, Lewis Dartnell's The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch, or Marcus B. Hatfield's The American Common Law: The Customary Law of the American Nation.
You forgot one…..the invisible prepper! There are more than enough of these preppers! We have the ability to shop and store without anyone noticing. I don’t need to brag, because when the SHTF, there is going to be enough people that are unprepared and begging. We’ll just state, we are in the same boat…but little do they know. I can’t save the world, only my family.
If we cannot at once rise to the sanctities of obedience and faith, let us at least resist our temptations; let us enter into the state of war, and wake Thor and Woden, courage and constancy, in our Saxon breasts. This is to be done in our smooth times by speaking the truth. Check this lying hospitality and lying affection. Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse. Say to them, O father, O mother, O wife, O brother, O friend, I have lived with you after appearances hitherto. Henceforward I am the truth's. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law. I will have no covenants but proximities. I shall endeavour to nourish my parents, to support my family, to be the chaste husband of one wife,--but these relations I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men's, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last.-- But so you may give these friends pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility. Besides, all persons have their moments of reason, when they look out into the region of absolute truth; then will they justify me, and do the same thing.
Another sort of false prayers are our regrets. Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will. Regret calamities, if you can thereby help the sufferer; if not, attend your own work, and already the evil begins to be repaired. Our sympathy is just as base. We come to them who weep foolishly, and sit down and cry for company, instead of imparting to them truth and health in rough electric shocks, putting them once more in communication with their own reason. The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. Welcome evermore to gods and men is the self-helping man. For him all doors are flung wide: him all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire. Our love goes out to him and embraces him, because he did not need it. We solicitously and apologetically caress and celebrate him, because he held on his way and scorned our disapprobation. The gods love him because men hated him. "To the persevering mortal," said Zoroaster, "the blessed Immortals are swift."
Then, as the show-and-tell ended, he gave the prize for Best Bag to a precocious young Prepper whose kit included a fishing line, a seat belt cutter, ready-start fuel cubes, several types of multi-tools and a smoke hood. The winner had come with his mother and had dutifully prepared a bag for her. I wanted to talk with him, but when I approached, he asked if I was “press” and suspiciously refused to give his name.
This group consists of people who live in tornado, hurricane, flood, wildfire, earthquake or heavy snowfall-prone areas and want to be prepared for possible emergencies. They invest in material for fortifying structures and tools for rebuilding and constructing temporary shelters. While assuming the long-term continuity of society, some may have invested in a custom-built shelter, food, water, medicine, and enough supplies to get by until contact with the rest of the world resumes following a natural emergency.
These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.
In his professional opinion, the next big development in prepping will be the arrival of entrepreneurial capitalists, and this made me think of Fabian Illanes and Roman Zrazhevskiy, two men in their 20s I met at the show-and-tell. Former classmates at George H. Hewlett High School on Long Island, Mr. Illanes and Mr. Zrazhevskiy have been prepping since their teens and recently created Readytogosurvival.com, a Prepper Web site that sells prepacked bug-out bags with paramilitary names like the Tactical Traveler ($439.99) and the Covert Defender ($629.99). They told me that they had been visiting Prepper meetings across the New York region in order “to discover their customers.”
Survivalists maintain their group identity by using specialized terminology not generally understood outside their circles. They often use military acronyms such as OPSEC and SOP, as well as terminology common among adherents to gun culture or the peak oil scenario. They also use terms that are unique to their own survivalist groups; common acronyms include:
“The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. Act singly, and what you have already done singly will justify you now.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The thing is, if you buy all this stuff, you need to learn how to use it. If you have a kid and you’re making a bug-out bag for them or you don’t want to learn how to use a Sawyer, you can use LifeStraw. They’re very simple; it’s a no-brainer. Put one side in your mouth, the other side in the water, and just start drinking. That’s for people who need something a little more basic.”
“One misconception about prepping is that you’re always thinking there’s going to be some kind of epic disaster,” she told me over the phone from Virginia. “The most common disaster that we prep for, or that happens to us, is a financial problem.” A longtime single mother, Luther said her interest in food storage grew out of a period of “abject poverty” following the 2008 recession. Lisa Bedford, a Texas-based writer who runs the site The Survival Mom, told me she got into disaster preparedness around the same time, when she wasn’t sure if her husband’s construction business would survive the downturn. (Bedford also works as an independent consultant for Thrive Life, meaning that she promotes their products online, and receives a commission on purchases from customers she refers to the company, as well as a discount on products she buys herself.)
Mr. Edwards has sufficient recognition in the prepping world that just last month someone calling himself Hudson Valley Prepper left a message on Preppergroups.com warning that one day in the not-too-distant future he might head north. “This guy Aton Edwards,” the message read, “a dangerous man in his own right, is currently holding prepper training in New York City and has stated that the number one goal is to get out of the city. Do you think you could stop Aton and his followers once he has been on the road for a week and is starving?”
The article mentions “The Commander Prepper”. I get it, yet I don’t get it! Especially, when bounced against “commanding and leading”. I guess if taken in the context of just prepping, I sort of get it. But if associated with after the catastrophe trigger has been pulled, I definitely have a problem with it. I do not know the leadership experience the author has had or even claims to know, but I do know from personal experience that situational and operational awareness, eminent actions and the make-up of your individual team dictate the three leadership styles. There is not enough time for discussion here, but you should research this on your own. Their is no replacement for hands-on experience, but leadership disciplines can be quickly studied, learned and put into practical use.
"If you are a serious prepper—serious about survival, about you and your family's well-being, serious about being warm, being able to light a fire, and you want something to count on—depend on and bet your life on—these simple matches are what you need to get. The matches themselves are tanks. They are tough and dependable. They light up automatically when blown out and burn from eight to ten seconds."
But that image is fostered in part by the public's biggest route to being made aware of preppers: Doomsday Preppers, which aired on the National Geographic channel. (The show has also infiltrated the academic literature, as Mills cites a study that analyzed the psychology of people who appeared on the show.) Although Mills doesn't explicitly say it, it's reasonable to wonder whether one can get an accurate cross-section of the prepper community purely from watching people who were chosen to appear on the show based on whether they make for good television.
I am sure that Mr. Sideways lectured dutifully on transcendentalism and its founding ideas — Emerson’s “transparent eyeball” and its gift of X-ray sight; Thoreau’s flight from a life of “quiet desperation” in society to the stillness of Walden Pond; the starred ceiling of the heavens that Ralph Waldo called the “Over-Soul,” uniting us with its magnetic beams — but what I remember most about that English class was the week that Mr. Sideways told us to leave our anthologies at home so that he could lead us in a seminar in how to make a fortune in real estate by tapping the treasure trove he referred to as “O.P.M.,” or Other People’s Money. He drew pyramids and pie charts on the blackboard. He gave us handouts.
Status can be a funny thing. Of course its most obvious iteration comes with shiny hardware and easily recognizable logos, but it gets far more interesting as you narrow it down to the more opaque signals — when the way you tuck your shirt, or what you eat for breakfast, or your particular brand of notebook can mark you as in or out. And of course, what counts as a status item varies wildly across human tribes. In our series, Insider Goods, we’re talking to tribe members (some with their real names, some anonymously) to find out the status items among art-gallery assistants, or Broadway actors, or architects. Today, we hear from Todd Sepulveda, editor of Prepper Website and host of The Prepper Website podcast, who always has a bug-out bag (that’s a go bag ready for any instance in which you might be bugging out, from a power outage to a hurricane to a nuclear war) at the ready.
“I’m actually responsible, indirectly, for the end of the meetups,” Dr. Shealy tells me inside his Springfield clinic off Chestnut Expressway, and not just because he thinks the earth is more than 6,000 years old. (Andrew: says you can’t trust anyone who believes that.) He sports a red crewneck, navy blue sweatpants, a stretchy metal watch and rectangular glasses. The 85-year-old—he’s more energetic than most people half his age—specializes in holistic medicine; the first thing he asks me is my birthday, and do I know what my astrological sign means. On my way out, he asks if he can hug me, and when I oblige, a toothy grin pulls wide the spritely doctor’s cheeks. “I believe it’s an important part of human contact,” he says.
The ability to construct a survival shelter is one important requirement not just for a scout, but also for anyone who wants to make it through the night alive while out in the wild. The Boy Scouts of America has at least 15 proficiencies that must be met before a member may be bestowed with the Wilderness Survival Merit Badge, one of which proves their ability to...