USA – Looking In The Balkans Mirror?

mirror

For years I have been following news from the survival “realm” all over the internet. One thing is for sure: every day in those years when I read survival “news” I could conclude, based on the headlines, that the world is going to chaos and end in the next week, next month or next year.

And still we are here discussing, we have all the comforts and commodities. Let’s say we are doing fine.

But now, for the first time, I have a feeling that world is going to chaos really soon.

Too many things are seemingly “moving” inside global calculations, and this time we could be close to a “big one”.

No matter how much food, ammo., training and skills you have when SHTF you are gonna be surprised. Most of us have been in the mode of preparing for something that is not happening for years, and when it finally happens there is going to be a period of shock for the folks, and in that period a LOT of people are going to die.

Since most of the folks who read my stuff and subscribe to my courses are from US, things that are written here are meant for them mostly, but not exclusively for them.

Every now and then I get questions about similarities between situation in US and the Balkans before SHTF. And I have read couple of good articles about the same topic lately.

Since I have lot of people that I can call good friends, and they are from States, I am going to point out some things about my Balkan SHTF and possible US SHTF. There are some serious and worrying parallels,  even we are talking about two different systems.

Feel free to prove me wrong in comments, I am open to discussion…

 

System

“The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness. . . . This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector. . . having a mob entirely at his disposal . . . .” —Plato

I have lived in the system and country where we believed that we are all equal. Different nationalities, different religions etc. Melted all together to make one “big and prosperous” nation, to be great and equal… united.

And then leverage of world  forces simply changed, and suddenly we are being taught that differences between us are more important than similarities and “one nations”, old history battles are been taught again, one group suddenly is more important then other and so on and so on.

And then came “leaders” or saviors that led us against others. After years of carnage, here we are again with almost the same leaders.

I have been through the war and met many folks on every side shooting because they have been told that other side is evil, and yet all sides are the same at the end.

Rich are richer, poor are poorer. Nothing changed. Nobody learned nothing.

 

Big Circles and Small Circles  (and your decisions)

Again and again, there is a big circle and small circle. You may have illusion that you are controlling things in bigger circle, but it is only an illusion. What kind of government you’re going to have and what kind of politics they use in the next years is not up to you, you just have been smartly led to believe that you can make the change.

It is like that…

At the end it all comes to the matter of power and possession, and you are just small piece of everything, you are small part of the tool.

Over the years I have learned that it is more important to have one more month of food stored or one more skill learned then to waste time on worrying who is going be elected.

It is a waste of time, when SHTF they all gonna do the same more or less, oppress people and take their rights and liberties very easy.

 

Your Rights

Living in society where you have certain rights and freedoms for years is a good thing.

The bad thing is, when SHTF and you lose all those rights in single day, and you find yourself so shocked that you simply do not know what next to do, because you had those rights for many years, it became totally natural for you to ‘own’ it.

Having lots of conversations with friends from the US, I concluded that the majority of common folks their simply do not understand that all your rights can be lost in one day.

And not by the evil invaders from the space, or Russians or who ever. Your government can take it. In One Day.

Majority of folks simply do not see this as a possible option, and even preppers their who understand it, may look like ‘weirdos’ because of this viewpoint.

Do not get me wrong, I would love to live in country where I can buy weapons easily, where I have rights to protect my home, where I can say freely (more or less) what I do not like.

I like that very much, actually I admire it.

What I do not like is feeling that most of the people think it is written in the stone and it can not be changed.

In short, things that I like most about US is going to be the biggest ‘loss’ in US when SHTF, and not only the US.

When SHTF there is going to be lot of surprised people, a lot of shock.

 

Your Perception of Future SHTF, Prepper Movement in the USA

 

I can not get rid of the feeling, that majority of people see SHTF as a big fun, shooting while drinking beer, with additional testing of all of their cool gear.

I see that in blogs, comments, forums, documentaries, movies…

I had more then one participants of my course who told me ”this is not fun, it is hard, and not so pleasant”.

I had people who have been preppers for 30 years and never considered the fact that when SHTF it is going to be smelly all around you.

There’s been a man who advises skateboard as a ‘good’ transport through SHTF city, a man who thinks that 30 brand new gold coins are going to get him through problems on his bug out trip and so on and so on.

Now I am not mocking with people who stated all the above. What I do not like is believing in “facts” that are not checked.

If you never been through SHTF you may not have the idea that it is not fun, but quite hard and unpleasant. Where do you think people and dead animals are going to be buried? Where will the garbage be taken, human waste and everything else? A foul smell is going to be a constant.

Don’t you think offering someone a brand new gold coin for safe passage won’t bring some “oooh maybe he has more of those interesting funny unusual gold things with him” attention?

Why don’t you try to have 10 cheap gold rings in your pocket instead, and offer on every “checkpoint”, one that you directly pull down from your finger with the words “here take my engagement ring, just let me pass”?

Is a guy going to think “oooh, maybe he has more of those his engagement rings in his pocket”?

Same things go with trade.

Examples are numerous.

Common sense is something that is missing mostly in “mainstream” prepper movements, and I understand that , it is business, it is about money.

But folks, choose carefully what advice you are taking as a real.

For the average, beginner prepper, the USA looks like paradise. A place where you can look and find correct information, also look and find correct equipment for future SHTF, but that also brings risk because there are more false and wrong information and mindset than right.

Personally I like what can be found in the US, because in most of the cases, I know what is good or bad, but for beginners it is much, much harder.

 

Conclusion

As some kind of conclusion for this very hard topic, because it is wrong to put things right with generalization:

  1. It is going to be very ugly, much more ugly than my SHTF experience here, simply because the ‘fall’ when SHTF going to be bigger. The “Distance” between modern everyday life and life in SHTF for the USA is WAY bigger than in my time. Majority of folks are “soft” and to dependent on the system.
  2. The ‘Survival Movement’ is big business, and it has become more (much more) about selling items (to make you believe that you are prepared) than about learning and gaining knowledge.
  3. Wrong perceptions about SHTF (or at least not checked and “experienced” beliefs) are rooted so hard, they have simply become the ‘accepted truths’. A LOT of these ‘truths’ are simply false and there for earning money, not for survival.
  4. A good thing is that you have much more options about  choosing and owning weapons, but this option can ‘bite you back’ if you have weapons, but with the wrong mindset, ‘truths’ and knowledge, simply because a whole bunch of bad people are going to have weapons too.
  5. The majority of folks are not ready to bend the rules and adapt. There is lot of talk about adapting, but then suddenly you get whole bunch of folks who are thinking “I’ll do that” or “ I’ll never do that” instead of “I’ll do what has to be done (adapt to situation)”
  6. Working with other folks. You need to work with other folks, to have friends, group, connections-before SHTF. Survival alone is for really tough mother…kers.
  7. People prepare for SHTF, but not really, they are preparing for the romantic, movie version of SHTF. They want to feel cool and comfortable when SHTF, which is not a problem by itself. Problem is that they want that at the expense of real knowledge and covering of real basics. So you have a man who has a fancy and really cool rifle, but does not know how easy and fast in real fight it is to use 500 rounds, so he ends up without ammo in a week. Or has a generator but does not have a clue how to light a fire, or the differences between fuels for fire in terms of heating, smoking etc. Many examples…
  8. Do not look for higher reasons for the situation. You may have political options today, fractions, candidates, government. But when SHTF all that are empty words from some other distant time. When SHTF you will have yourself and people who want to harm you. That is it.

So folks, make sure you are preparing for the realities. I would encourage you to start ‘fact checking’ your plans and preps today…

 

Guest Post – Adaptability: How to Develop the Right Mindset to Deal Faster With Changes

chameleon

Far too many people today are overwhelmed by change. No matter whether the changes happen at work, at home, or elsewhere in the community, unproductive responses tend to be out of proportion to the actual situation.  This is just one of many reasons why more preppers are starting to wonder about adaptability and what mindset will work best for dealing with a major crisis.  Without a doubt, if you or others cannot manage a relatively minor situation without making it worse, how do you expect to manage situations that are much worse?  In this article, you will learn about the fundamentals of adaptability and how to develop a healthy mindset that will enable you to deal with any situation effectively and efficiently.

 

What is Adaptability?

According to Gandhi, “Adaptability is not imitation.  It means a power of resistance and assimilation.”    Managing a crisis situation requires the ability to know which actions to pursue and which ones to avoid.  For example, if you are accustomed to taking a shower each day, adaptability during a hurricane  may require you change this activity.  Here are the options you would need to evaluate and the level of adaptability required to pursue them:

  • You may decide to take a shower using tap water despite warnings and indicators that the water is not safe to use. This choice requires simply following what you have always done – or imitating past actions. It requires no change, yet carries a very high risk of making you sick or killing you because the world around you has changed drastically.
  • You may decide not to take a shower using tap water, but choose to use some wet wipes that you happen to have on hand. Even though this choice is safer, it still requires very little in the way of making a change.  It will work, however, everything depends on what you do or don’t have on hand.
  • As someone living in an area prone to hurricanes, you purchased a camping shower unit, but have never opened the box let alone tried it out. On the surface, this may look like adaptability because you took action to prepare for a situation where you would not have adequate bathing water.  You still run a high risk of failing the adaptability test because the unit itself may not work properly, or you may not have something else on hand to ensure the device will work.
  • Finally, let’s say you purchased the camping shower unit and have tested it out. You know it works perfectly and have everything on hand to take a shower at a moment’s notice. As a seasoned prepper, you also made it your business to practice purifying water and retrieve it from moist air.  This is the level of adaptability you should always strive for.  Not only are you adjusting your actions to fit the circumstance, but you are “resisting” anything that keeps you from living as normal and as healthy a life as possible.  Because you took the time to learn how to purify water and operate new equipment, you have also assimilated – or taken in new information and devices that increase the chances of meeting your objectives.

 

What Does an Adaptable Mindset Look and Feel Like?

The adaptable mindset looks, feels, and is healthy.  Here are some of the basic elements:

  1. Situation Awareness and Response
  • you are aware of everything going on around you without becoming distracted by unimportant things or taking them out of context. For example, you may be aware that four other people may be standing in line at the checkout, however, you don’t pay more attention to them than tending your own items.
  • Unusual or important details get your attention, but you do not overreact.  Now let’s say you are standing at the checkout, and of the four people in line with you, one person has just walked up and is wearing a hoodie and his/her jacket looks like it is stuffed with something heavy.  Someone with a healthy, adaptable mindset will keep that person in their peripheral sight (or use some other discreet means to observe them) until it is certain that the person poses no threat.  An adaptable person will also be aware of the fact that the heavy jacket could mean the person is carrying some kind of explosive device.
  • You respond quickly and appropriately to threatening stimulus.  In the escalation of this scenario, let’s say you are watching the person with the hoodie and are certain that he has pulled a knife from his pocket.  At this point, any rational person would conclude that something bad is going to happen, and force is going to be required to stop it.  While it may not be appropriate to immediately use lethal force, you can do any number of things including try to disarm the person, or try to take cover and call for help.  A lot of how you handle this situation will depend on what tools you have on hand and the level of training you have to deal with these situations.  The more you train and practice both mental and physical skills, the better chance you have of making the right decision and preventing yourself and others from being injured.  There is no substitution for training your mind, body, instincts, reflexes, and emotions.
  1. Awareness of risks and dangers does not stop you from living a normal life. This includes being able to go out with friends and feeling safe in your home and outside of your home.  You also choose appropriate tools (including weapons) to fit a specific situation and project a body language of confidence without being cocky.
  1. You have realistic goals and expectations. This includes financial expectations as well as where all of your skill sets are and what the optimal levels are for surviving catastrophic situations.  When you have an honest and fair assessment of where you are, it is much easier to make plans to get where you need to go.
  1. Have full emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and social responses. Many people today think they must be without emotions or that everything must be based on logic. When you put these kinds of blinders on, then you never see answers that might work better. If you are feeling sad, then be sad, if you are angry, then be angry. It is fine to have emotions, just don’t get lost in them or stay in them for an abnormal period of time.  Make sure that you know how to quickly move from one state of feeling or thinking to another, and how to control your movement from one state to the desired one.  Controlling stress levels is a key part of this process.
  1. You are well connected to the world and community around you. One of the most important aspects of adaptability is that you can be comfortable with other people as well as when you are alone. You never know when teamwork will be required in a crisis, or when you will have to gauge whether or not you can trust the other person.  Being around other people is the only way to learn and develop good assessment skills.

 

Know What Your Strengths and Vulnerabilities Are

There is no such thing as a person that doesn’t have weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  The key to being adaptable and surviving any situation is knowing where those weak points are in yourself and others.  Next, you should know best how to use your strengths to compensate for areas that still need work.  It is also very important to assess strengths and weaknesses in other people so that you all can benefit from pursuing tasks that best match each person’s skills and capacities.   A highly adaptable person does not fear weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Rather, they see them as challenges to accept, overcome, and work around as needed.

 

Keep Learning, Developing and Exploring

You are bound to find preppers that say if “Plan A” fails, you have a whole alphabet of plans to go through before you give up.  If you are going to move from one plan to another, then you need to be open to new information at all times.  Even if you think you know everything about a particular topic, keep researching, learning, and experimenting.  This includes studying related fields where you might pick up different theories and concepts that can be adapted for use in other areas of survival skill development.

Overall, the most adaptable people never stop asking questions and looking for answers.  When you stop asking questions, it means that you have reached a point where adapting and changing are going to be limited.  It may also mean you doubt yourself or your ability to learn something new.  This can undermine confidence more than anything else.    In a crisis situation, you may need to go through the trial and error process dozens of times.  As long as you are asking questions, then there is a chance you will hit on the right answer.

One of the biggest secrets of being adaptable is knowing the difference between asking questions and being confused.  When you are asking questions, you seek to obtain information that will either fit into a pre-existing plan, or it may be used to make useful adjustments.  On the other hand, when you are confused, you may not have the experience or knowledge to know that you need to pursue another path to success.  If you are confused, asking questions can help you gain clarity, however, the usefulness of the answers you get will only be as good as the questions you ask.

 

Make Plans But Keep them Flexible

Consider a situation where you are focusing your prepper budget and skill set development on obtaining clean water.  By the time you factor in how to obtain water from multiple resources (example lakes, ponds, rivers, the ground, underground waterways, air, plant leaves, animal remains, morning dew, and salt water), and how to purify the water (bone char, sari cloths, charcoal, sand, distilling, and boiling), you can easily make one or two plans with dozens of optional branches.   There is an easy way to format your plans for maximum flexibility without losing sight of your goals.

Start out by saying IF (these factors are present in the situation)

  • THEN (do the following things)
  • ELSE (do the following things)
  • continue making ELSE clauses for each option that you can apply to the situation as listed in the IF statement.

You may need many “IF” statements to cover every single scenario that you may encounter. For obtaining potable water, you might build your IF statements around locations such as desert, city, mountains, near the ocean, or you can build them around specific situations such as during hurricanes, after a nuclear strike, or anything else that you want to develop a plan of action for.

People that adapt easily to sudden or major changes are the ones most likely to survive just about any kind of crisis.  Practice your skills, be confident in yourself, plan carefully, and always safeguard and seek to improve your mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and social health.  When you are in the best position possible, you will always find it easier to make the kinds of choices that will improve your chances of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

Selco Comments:

 Carmela raises some excellent points in this article. Adaptability is very often formulated in a way that you need to act (or not act) in split second based on your mindset that you achieved both through mentally processing (‘thinking’ of sorts), understanding of the world around you, and learned skills.

It is easy (and correct) to say that you need to adapt to the new world around you. If you do not have running water you will not take regular showers, and you still will functional and be alive.

If you do not have your favorite food you will adapt to that and so on and so on.

But let me give you one real life experience story:

In the chaos when SHTF and armed groups started with terrorizing people, in the days just before everybody realized that law is gone for the long time, I was trying to get something useful from the ruined grocery shop. On my way back some 20 meters from the shop, five or six guys were badly beating a man on the street. In the moment when they saw me, I saw them too. I could not go back, only choice was to go right up next to them. They were pretty drunk, the guy who they beat was down on the ground covered in blood.

When I was right next to them, two of them look at me, and on the face of one of them I almost saw question “what the fuck you are looking at?” Maybe in the split second before he asked me that I yelled at them “yeah, fuck that asshole, mess him up man, go for it”. All of them put a happy smile on their faces and yell something like“yeah dude, woohoo” and stuff like that.

In that moment I simply made a connection with them, I put myself on their side.

That lasted for a moment only, but I just needed that moment, I passed them, and I was safe. I thought later about that a lot, and I concluded that I did not ‘create’ that plan, words simply came out from my mouth, it was gut instinct. If I did not do that, guy would probably have asked me the “what a fuck you are looking at” question, and they would have simply started beating me.

It is not my bravest moment in life, but again I am talking here about real life experience not nice stories.

Point here is:

Sometimes you will be forced to adapt and act very fast, and in the way that you do not like, and will not be proud about later on. But it is about adapting to things that you do not like, but you will be force to adapt to in order to survive. In the SHTF there will be some very ugly thing that you will adapt to.

About the author:

Carmela Tyrell is an experienced prepper that enjoys spending time working in her garden and exploring new ways to generate off-grid electricity and water for her family’s home. She prides herself in working hard to cut reliance on all things “municipal” and transition to a more self-sustainable living. She is also very knowledgeable about herbal remedies, surviving a nuclear disaster and bugging in. You can read more of her work on Survivor’s Fortress. You can also follow us on Twitter.