Survival Instincts

Posted: April 12, 2013 in Thoughtful thinking.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I had an interesting thought tonight. It was this. What if the world came to an end as we know it tomorrow? What if some huge political catastrophe went down and the leaders and governments of the world were to suddenly collapse? What would it take to survive and how would you work it out for you and your family? Priorities would rapidly shift and things very valuable now would suddenly turn utterly useless. In fact, it would be polar opposites. Things like paper money, jewels, and other things immediately thought of as being very valuable would be completely worthless in a world without a economy. The things that would be priceless are the things that we take advantage of know. Electricity, water, food, gas, and heat. 

The need for jobs would turn into the need for self-sustenance. The social flip would be catastrophic and those with a lot of education would suddenly be wondering how their desk job could help them grow food in their backyard. The learning curve would be swift and brutal. I can imagine that those people who we call “nuts” now preparing for the apocalypse would be having a grand time telling everyone, “I told you so,” while guarding their property with thousands of rounds of stockpiled ammunition meant for a zombie attack. 

But would it not also be liberating in a way? To fend for yourself? To owe no debts but the responsibility to keep you and your family alive and safe? To say, “I built this house with my own hands.” To eat, drink, and sleep of your own labor and handiwork. I can imagine that, given a little time, there would pride in people’s way of life again. People would begin to reach out more and help their neighbors in need. They would respect another man’s time, efforts, and abilities because they know the value of hard work. 

I think that in a way, a refresh button might just be what many people need. Something to remind them that life isn’t something that is to be given to you. You have to earn it. And in a world now where people work for the weekends, night life, and are constantly expecting more for less, they have forgotten what it means to earn their living. Instead, many have accepted the chance to mooch off others who do know what it means to do an honest day’s work.

What kind of survival instincts do you have? What traits, skills, abilities, or things would keep you alive if the world were to crash tomorrow? 

  1. Josh Payne says:

    This is an interesting idea. If you do not mind, I would like to expand it with the effects human nature would play within the scenario. You pursued this from a view that people are naturally good, and when left to themselves will behave in a manner that respects the life and property of others. With such a view, I agree that it harkens back to a more simple, even more noble age.

    Personally, I believe that human nature is intrinsically self-seeking. When left to their own devices, (whether by sudden collapse of government, isolation upon an island, etc.) people will degenerate into their basest, most instinctual form. I do not imagine a tough but simple life of hard work. I see rampant crime and chaotic survival until the coming of a despotic ruler can bring about an oppressive order. Then will begin the age-old fight for freedom. Government and society, in all of their many forms, are methods by which the masses attempt to protect themselves from each other. It is why the best forms of government include checks and balances.

    What kind of survival instincts do I have? Slim to none, I am afraid. I am a child of a blessed society, and it would be a steep learning curve for me without it. Nevertheless, it has taken many generations of dreamers, innovators, leaders, and muckrakers to fashion the society of today, and I, for one, have sworn my all to protect and defend it. Thank you for the thoughts.

    • Perhaps you’re right Josh! I was writing on the assumption that people are inherently good, even though I really didn’t think about it at the time. Maybe it’s just who I am. I tend to be a very trusting person and project how others react with how I would react should something like this happen. After all, I must draw instinct from somewhere…

      But with this thinking in hand, it would seem like the world would go into an opposite degradation of its already broken state in which the collected evil of those who are the strongest would oppress and destroy those who are good. I suppose I was theorizing that the total collapse of any sort of material possession would somewhat cut off the “root” of selfishness that is so prevalent in society today. But it would seem that people are always attempting to step on others to raise themselves up even in the bleakest of situations.

      The decision would rest in how people act after the disaster. Would we help each other, realize the world out of ourselves and carry one another not because we have to but because we’ve learned compassion in our strife? Or have we already fallen too far for anything to break us of our mindset and just use a catastrophe to further our greed and selfish goals?

  2. paulbrodie says:

    I’ve contemplated this topic a lot. My church emphasizes emergency preparedness and general self-reliance, so that encourages me to be more prepared than I probably would be otherwise. My parents are very good about having a reserve of food, not to a fanatical point, but to the point that if any situation comes up that they can’t make it to the store for a while they can still eat well. This is a good idea even without preparing for a huge catastrophe. A few years back the company my dad worked for got rid of all of their technicians, so he was out of work for a while. Having food storage helped ease the financial strain.

    But since the topic here is catastrophe, I’ll address that. My last job I had was working as tech support. I’d help people over the phone and through the computer. I would often think about what would happen if the electricity was out for good, as in a solar flare or some type of collapse like what you’d addressed. I wouldn’t have a job. I look at our society and see so many jobs that are dependent upon electricity. With a full societal collapse, either politically or economically, I think a lot of people would be hurting. Initially a lot of people would likely die in the resulting panic. As you alluded to, how many people actually know how to farm or hunt, and how many people live in an area where those activities are plausible? 8 million people in New York aren’t going to be able to roll out a 1/2 acre garden and start subsistence farming.

    Unfortunately I’m not very prepared for such an event myself. I know some basics about surviving, but I don’t have property, land is going to be key again, just like it was when the U.S. was being established. Carpentry and metal work will be valuable skills. I have neither. Plumbing will be useful. I know nothing about that. Electrician skills will be useful and I don’t know those either. My plan right now is to return to my parents house and use my physical labor to carry out the knowledge they have of basic skills (my dad knows a lot about these things I’ve just mentioned) and gardening (my mom has developed a green thumb over the last few years).

    I think these are good things to think about, and it doesn’t mean we are paranoid or conspiratorial like some people like to paint preppers. Obviously there are people who are paranoid and conspiratorial, and those are the ones the media likes to highlight, but not everyone who prepares for catastrophe is. I’d like to have a chance to live where my day to day sustenance depends a little more directly upon my labors. I think it would be satisfying, although extremely difficult.

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