I (John Lovell) am a bit (a lot) of a prepper, and like any prepper, I can geek out on things like emergency food, water, gear, guns, and ammo. I like thinking through scenarios of what might happen and how to respond when/if the "end of the world" comes upon us. I mean I don't like pondering the demise of society, but I like to be mentally prepared for it. But most people who think they're prepped, probably are not.
There's a critical component that seems to be missing as prepping discussions venture beyond hobby and into reality. Here's something we should all ask ourselves: Am I a future marauder or a future builder of society and culture?
Let me explain why this matters in discussions about prepping for the apocalypse.
Remember that old show "Doomsday Preppers" from a decade ago? We got into it back then and recently watched some episodes for the sake of nostalgia and maybe a few laughs.
The show follows people from all over the United States who are preparing for some type of apocalyptic event–the dollar collapsing, high-altitude EMP, etc. and the collapse of society.
Some of it is humorous. Guys in "gun free" cities who think their collection of knives and martial arts will see them through the apocalypse while living in an urban environment. That couple who thinks their high-powered paintball gun will do the trick against zombies trying to feed their families.
Of course there are the more serious folks digging out bomb shelters and stocking up on guns and ammo and food provisions.
It's always fascinating to hear what scenarios people think are likely and what preparation might be necessary. It's hard to say what's going to cause the collapse, of course, if/when it ever does happen, and I'm certainly not going to weigh in on that topic right now.
However, I would like to offer my two cents as a tactician about what might happen in the days, weeks, and months following such a catastrophic event.
Don't Be Lured in by a False Sense of Security. Your Long-Term Security Plan Is Critical.
There's a commonality I observed with most of those Doomsday Prepper folks, and that is this: I could have easily walked into their homes, taken everything they had stockpiled, and they wouldn't have been able to stop me.
Their stockpiles were ready, but they absolutely were not. They were sitting ducks and didn't realize it. Their defenses were just terrible. So just imagine when they were actually facing down a father with starving children and nothing to lose.
I'm not trying to promote calloused thinking or to encourage people to refuse help to their fellow man. Such thinking goes against what I believe about how humans should treat other humans in need. But there's also a very ethical sense in which your job is to provide for and protect your family, so take that for what it's worth.
Anyway. If a true societal collapse happens, the people without the resources will find you, and they won't all be fathers down on their luck. And no matter what scenario actually caused the collapse, as time progresses and resources become more and more scarce, everyone's going to do anything they can to be able to get your resources.
You at least have to be prepared for such an eventuality.
If your family hasn't eaten in three days, a panic will inevitably set in as you begin to wonder if you'll ever be able to eat again. Someone famously said "we're only about nine meals away from anarchy." What wouldn't you do to feed your family, to keep your little kids from starving? What kinds of laws would you break?
In that scenario, it's possible that everyone becomes everyone's enemy. (And if you think you'll just bug out and stay off the grid, it's possible you'll just become a prime target without the safety of home to protect you and your resources.)
Not to belabor the point too much, but let's say by some miracle you survive for a few months. Then you decide to break open a large can of green beans and begin cooking a meal. That aroma is going to carry. All the other people who survived the first few months have either managed to hang onto their resources or else they've become masters at taking everyone else's.
The folks still alive several months into an apocalyptic famine probably didn't get to that point by playing nice. A number of those people would have by then become professional marauders. They're pros at taking away from others.
If you want a modern-day example of this, just consider some of the countries in Africa where armed bands keep communities in constant conflict. Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Etc. Your apocalypse doesn't have to be worldwide or even continent-wide to devastate your future.
Your Long-Term Security Plan Requires a Lot More Than Guns and Ammo
If you have 50,000 rounds of ammunition and a whole bunch of guns, but only a couple of competent shooters, you're stockpiling on behalf of your future enemies. If stockpiles are your only prep, you're not even close to being ready. You would need incredible training. Training is more important than the guns and ammo.
I'm not saying don't get your guns and gear and ammo, but please understand that that's just the beginning of preparation. More important is to get tons of tactical training and to devise a security plan that is sustainable for the long term . If the world collapses, there will be a need for constant security. If it's just you and your wife and maybe your kids, and even if you're all well trained, you will reach a breaking point. That brings me to the bigger point.
You Will Need Your Own Societal Structure
I realize that this probably seems like a crazy thought–that you'll have to create your own society–but just think about it. You probably already have thought about it, but maybe you know someone who hasn't. Maybe they need this article more than you.
Let's think about it.
A feasible security plan requires lots of people to plug into that security plan. You would likely need a network of people all committed to the same vision and outcome. Before technology and all the modern day comforts that we have now, people survived by banding together. Now you need a doctor in your society. You'd need mechanics. You'd probably want a welder (or two), some skilled hunters, builders, and carpenters, and probably some professional soldiers.
So as you can see, this goes much deeper than being able to survive a weekend or week-long power outage. We're talking about perpetuating human culture and flourishing in the midst of catastrophe. This is what will separate you from the marauders. It obviously begins with outward defenses, but it requires inward structure and governance.
Wow. It gets deep.
We're talking long-term survival here, and this requires a society built around a common worldview, governed by common morals and ethics. Without that underpinning your community, it'll likely turn in on itself and collapse or a strong man will rise above the rest to rule with force. In that case, might will make right. Yay for that. Do you want a "might makes right" kind of society? Vikings. Stalin. Hitler. They all believed in that, too.
(Apocalypse Pro Tip: Start now. Identify the people in your circle of influence willing to think through and prepare for this level of preparedness who share your moral code and fortitude, and who also can carry their weight when the sky falls.)
So to recap, if you're out there preparing for come what may, and you think it's good to just bug out or hide in a bunker, isolating you and your family with your food, weapons, and resources, you might think a little more long-term. You can only hide out for so long on your own. Eventually they will find you. It's worth thinking about and considering and preparing for a better outcome.
Believe me. I understand if you think this is a bit out in left field, but just let it sink in. Food for thought.
Train Hard. Train Smart. Live Free. Build the Culture and Community Now That You'd Want to Have During the Apocalpyse.