In calling out to all the misfits and the rebels and the troublemakers, the “round pegs in square holes” who “see things differently” and have trouble with the rules, the ad evokes the ideal first created by Emerson of a rough-hewed outsider who changes the world through a combination of courage, tenacity, resourcefulness and that God-given wild card, genius. While Dreyfuss narrates, archival footage of the “crazy ones” flickers on the screen in black and white: Albert Einstein leads the way, followed by Bob Dylan, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a jubilant Richard Branson shaking a Champagne bottle in a flight suit.
For a time in the 1970s, the terms survivalist and retreater were used interchangeably. While the term retreater eventually fell into disuse, many who subscribed to it saw retreating as the more rational approach to conflict-avoidance and remote "invisibility". Survivalism, on the other hand, tended to take on a more media-sensationalized, combative, "shoot-it-out-with-the-looters" image.
Modern-day survivalists aren't generally regarded as the most sane people on the planet. A quick look at any one of the disturbingly common and frighteningly thorough shopping lists they post online drives home the fact that anyone who self-identifies as a "prepper" most likely went off the deep end a long time ago. Sure, it's fine to keep a few extra cans of food and cases of water around for an emergency, but if you start adding body armor and butt paste to your stash, you might want to tell George Miller that it's time to see other people.
Onto a folding table came a breathtaking array of disaster swag: compasses and iodine pills, hand-cranked radios and solar-powered flashlights, magnesium fire-starters and a fully charged Kindle with digital road maps of the tristate region. Many of the items on display went far beyond the “10 Basic Pillars of Bug-Out Gear” that Jason Charles, the network’s leader, had passed out in advance through the Internet. A good number were tweaked to fit their owners’ needs and interests. A locksmith in the group had a lock-picking set. A vegetarian had a stash of homemade dehydrated lentils. One man had a condom designed to serve as an emergency canteen; another had a rat trap — to catch and eat the rats.
This is actually true of many Preppers but is also a generalization – there are liberals and atheists among us and they are welcome. The Prepper mindset is focused on Self-Reliance and Personal Responsibility, which also happens to lead right into a strong belief in the Constitution and that we need less, not more, government. Christianity also promotes Self-Reliance and Personal Responsibility. So, while the a majority of Preppers may be Christian and strong proponents of Constitutional Government – it is certainly not exclusive to that belief set.
For global catastrophic risks the costs of food storage become impractical for most of the population  and for some such catastrophes conventional agriculture would not function due to the loss of a large fraction of sunlight (e.g. during nuclear winter or a supervolcano). In such situations, alternative food is necessary, which is converting natural gas and wood fiber to human edible food.
“There 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.”
This is something we hear a lot. It is something that the media frequently attempts to portray us as. Preppers are no more crazy than those wacky people who have home owners insurance. Seriously, why do people have home owners insurance? It’s so that if something catastrophic happens to your house you can get money to buy a new one – and not be homeless. Prepping is basically the same thing – we educate ourselves and purchase items that will be essential to continue our way of life in a catastrophic event, creating a Standard of Living Insurance for ourselves. Preppers are those who agree with the Federal Government and subscribe to what FEMA has indicated that every citizen should be doing to be prepared. For the media to call us “nutjobs” or “fringe”is for them to ignore the position of the Federal Government towards citizen responsibility.
Although he had a cold when we met at his office in Harlem, Dr. Redlener was a soothing presence — bearded, erudite and open to the notion that ordinary people have a central role in emergency preparedness. The government, he told me, reacted decisively after 9/11, establishing the Department of Homeland Security, so why shouldn’t everyday citizens react?
To the extent that one exists, the public image of a prepper is of someone who's getting ready for the collapse of society, at which point money and electric grids, along with all the things that depend on them, will become unavailable. Preppers are ready to purify water to drink, hunt and butcher for meals, and scare off anyone who tries to get a piece of their post-apocalyptic bliss, possibly via gunfire. There may be bunkers involved.
That spirit of self-sufficiency runs through the history of American food culture. Lydia Maria Child’s 1829 manual The Frugal Housewife, one of the first American cookbooks ever published, instructed women to contribute to their family’s finances by making sure no scrap of food was wasted: “Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it, however trifling that use may be.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints* encourages members to keep a three-month food supply on hand at all times, and even sells dehydrated food products on its official website. This Mormon connection may be why Utah is such a freeze-dried food hub: Of 21 freeze-dried food companies I counted online, 16 were from the state, and Bedford told me she first learned about long-term food storage by reading blogs by Mormon women.
“If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
9Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry. Hospital Preparedness Program - Public Health Emergency Preparedness - Funding Opportunity. CDC-RFA-TP17-1701. 2017 Feb [cited 2017 Jul 10]. Available from: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=290860
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.
The Lord has declared, “It is my purpose to provide for my saints” (D&C 104:15). This revelation is a promise that the Lord will provide temporal blessings and open the door of self-reliance. He has also declared that “it must needs be done in [His] way” (D&C 104:16). To receive the blessings of self-reliance, we must accept and live the principles of self-reliance, which include the following:
Great suggestions and head’s-up. I’m already on it. Hands’ on experience is next: camping out, hunting, and other essential natural living activity. Learning how to swim, and getting back to running are on my list as well. To collaborate and share the importance of prepping is vital for the lives of our loved ones, so much. Thanks, Emergency Essentials, for your service. Thanks go also to J.D. Phillips, for posting this article.
Whereas Christ alone has traditionally been regarded as the Word made flesh, Emerson regards every human potentially as a reincarnation of the Word. Consequently, regret of the past and prayer for the future as a means to effect private ends are both diseases of human will and should be avoided. Traveling with the hope to see something greater than the self, in Emerson’s view, would simply be senseless. As a result of this moralistic view, society, like nature, may change but never advance. Typical of his conclusions, the end of this essay, which repeats the theme of self-reliance and predicts the subjugation of Chance under human will based on self-reliance, sounds greatly optimistic.
A lot of the ideas and excerpts of Self-Reliance may be misunderstood if read through a narcissistic lens, in which you possess everything you need to be successful on your own. But true self-reliance is, in practice, obedience to something bigger (this can be religious or not — we’re talking about things unexplainable or unmeasurable to us). Self-trust is also trust in the Big Other:
In the wake of these insights, I called a family friend in Ohio, himself half-a-Prepper, and he advised me to purchase a quantity of Silver Eagle coins as an inflation hedge, which I did. Not long after came the hundred-dollar, home-delivered month’s supply of freeze-dried food — in the standard and the vegetarian options — from Costco.com. I bought my wife, which is to say, myself, John Seymour’s homesteading classic, “The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It.” I began the conversation about acquiring a gun.
Our reading is mendicant and sycophantic. In history, our imagination plays us false. Kingdom and lordship, power and estate, are a gaudier vocabulary than private John and Edward in a small house and common day's work; but the things of life are the same to both; the sum total of both is the same. Why all this deference to Alfred, and Scanderbeg, and Gustavus? Suppose they were virtuous; did they wear out virtue? As great a stake depends on your private act to-day, as followed their public and renowned steps. When private men shall act with original views, the lustre will be transferred from the actions of kings to those of gentlemen.
There are few people as quoted and quotable as Ralph Waldo Emerson, founder of the transcendental movement and author of classic essays as Self-Reliance, Nature, and The American Scholar. Emerson began his career as a Unitarian minister and later put those oratory skills to move us toward a better society. More remains written on him than by him. This special collection has many contributors, revealing the range of people under his influence. On the day of this book’s publication, May 25, 2011, Emerson would have been 208.
I connected with Jennifer through Daisy Luther, the Virginia-based writer and survival preparedness expert behind the blog The Organic Prepper, which boasts more than 30,000 followers on Facebook and roughly 32,000 monthly visits on Pinterest. Jennifer says she learned a lot about prepping from the site and is a member of its affiliated private Facebook group, which Luther says is nearly 77 percent women. (Luther and other bloggers I spoke with for this story say that while they approach survivalism from a female perspective, they’ve encountered no small number of men who are interested in these practices as well.)
While survivalists accept the long-term viability of Western civilization, they learn principles and techniques needed for surviving life-threatening situations that can occur at any time and place. They prepare for such calamities that could result in physical harm or requiring immediate attention or defense from threats. These disasters could be biotic or abiotic. Survivalists combat disasters by attempting to prevent and mitigate damage caused by these factors.
This type of prepper prides himself on how prepared he is for any apocalyptic event. He finds it hard to keep his mouth shut about his food preparation, water supply, and his self-sustaining environment that he built as a whole. The problem with this is if a disaster does happen, those ill-equipped groups will surely come for these religious preppers first.
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.
The term refers to the steps you take to make sure you are safe before, during and after an emergency or natural disaster. These plans are important for your safety in both natural disasters and man-made disasters. Examples of natural disasters are floods, blizzards, tornadoes and earthquakes. Man-made disasters can include explosions, fires, chemical and biological attacks.