Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We gotta take the title back!

The new survivalist, the modern survivalist, bushcrafter, and prepper are just some of the terms used by SURVIVALISTS to explain the lifestyle that they live.  I use the word survivalist proudly even though that name has been preverted over the years.  The brand survivalist has often been reserved for one of two different types of people and neither is accurate.  The first mislabeled survivalist is the wacko in the fringe groups that lives alone or in some colony counting down the days until the end of the world.  His entire concept of survival is to simply continue breathing.  I just can't seem to figure out why a person would want to live separated from all the joys that are out there to be had. All to often they are full of hate and bigotry or irrational fear of the government, FEMA death camps, the Illuminati, aliens and mind control.  These people have also been referred to as "the tin foil hats" which is more accurate.  The other mislabeled survivalist is the outdoors man, hunter, backpacker or any other group that seeks recreation in the outdoors.  When occasionally one of these people gets caught unprepared and ends up in a survival situation.  We have all heard about the guy that wandered off the trail, fell off of a cliff, broke both legs and lived off eating ants and licking the dew off the grass for a week.  Maybe not that exact story but there are many tales of the untrained, unprepared outdoors man surviving against the odds.  While they do have a strong will to survive,  they are not survivalists either they are simply survivors. 

The true survivalist is the person that lives a full life and enjoys as much of it as they can.  They do not hide from daily conflicts nor do they welcome it.  They are smart and attentive to the world around them.  They recognize the dangers in everyday life and use their knowledge to navigate through the turbulence.  When they do get caught up they do the best that they can and learn from the experience to avoid having that happen to them again.  They analyze patterns leading up to events and learn where the similarities are in daily life.  Now here is the important part.  They train plan and prepare for likely problems and learn to recognise them early and deal with them.  They also understand that the knowledge and skill to prevail do not come cheap.  They take considerable time, energy, study, practice, and discipline to learn their craft.

A master of lithic arts is useless if he doesn't know how to hunt. A master hunter is useless if he cannot prepare game, A butcher is useless if he cannot sharpen a knife, A blade smith is useless if he cannot start a fire.  A chef is useless if he cannot acquire food. All these things are related and the ability to recognize and develop complementary skills is the key trait of the survivalist.  He does not seek mastery in many of these disciplines only competence although he is often a master of a few.  Competence in a hundred skill sets beats out mastery of one hands down.  As R.A. Heinlein put it "Specialization is for insects".  So the next time someone ask you "What are you? Some sort of survivalist or something?" tell them you are the only kind of survivalist.