Walking the line between human and animal

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As many long term reader or members of my survival course know, I like to talk about important but some maybe call “not so spectacular” part of survival that is not so much fun like for example talking about latest guns and gadgets.

Today I want to talk about dignity and what it means in survival scenario. Before I talk from own experience, read the extract below from the diary of Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin who describes what happened after his unit freed the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during second world war.

At the moment of his writing every day hundreds of people still died and it was place of pure horror.

It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don’t know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for those internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.

Importance of still being human and not become complete animal is often overlooked part for people who prepare for long term survival. I had over one year to fight against becoming like rats around our house during war.

Expect to become more like animal

You can have all equipment ready for SHTF, ammo, weapon, gear… you can even be perfectly good trained in lot of different skills and fields and still when SHTF you can end up dead in the first days just because you what i call „refuse to believe“ whats happening.

It is that state of mind when man simple do not want (or not able) to comprehend new situation.

It can be one quick life threatening situation like folks attacking your home and you just waited few seconds too long to shoot some attacker, and then you are dead, end of the story. Or it can be whole process of failing to recognize new world around you and new rules (or absence of rules) and then again you just not doing correct things for the situation, and again you end up dead.

Example would be that when SHTF you are trying desperately to have and use power generator and light all rooms in your houses just because it mean normal life for you. And that normal life is gone, and trying to bring it back in that situation usually means more troubles.

Holding onto all comforts and behavior you are used to can be dangerous.

To make long story short, what I am trying to say is that you may be trained and equip like SEAL member and still you can be killed easily from some 70 years old dude, with even older rifle just because you were surprised when SHTF with amount of destruction and violence and you did not seen that old dude coming (or being so evil).

On the other side that old dude maybe lived through couple of SHTF events in his life, and he knows when it is time to act without hesitation and mercy.

There is still fine line you have to walk between losing your human side and becoming pure animal.

One of the things that changed a lot when SHTF is fact that everything became really dirty.

It was something like slow process, first people tried to keep it as clean they could, but without all normal services, like garbage trucks, running water and all other community services that make normal living soon it simple became impossible.

Later all garbage was used somehow, but in beginning it started piling up everywhere, when you add to that ruins on the street, human waste and dead bodies it was very ugly picture.

After some time, we started to accept dirt outside and it then was priority to stay clean and keep clean only inside that small circle inside your home, and when I say „clean“ I do not mean „clean“ like today. Maybe as clean as we could be.

For example simply moving through the city in the middle of the night meant that you needed to crawl, jump, hide, walk or run trough all kind of things, and very often some real nasty and dirty things.

Many times I was hiding on places so dirty that stench was almost paralyzing, once in the middle of the night I jumped behind some wall because sudden shelling, and when I jumped there I realized that I landed on dead guy.

His face was smashed with broken wall, and partially buried, place there was so small that I had to actually lay on him for some 20 minutes. He died probably when wall from the house collapsed after some shelling, who knows.

Fire from the shelling was so strong that I actually loved that dead guy and that place in that moment. I almost hug him while I was trying to be as small as possible because pieces of steel and rock were flying around me just like some crazy rain, while my stomach was rising and floating from the detonations and smell.

All I was saying at that moment was „thank you, thank you, thank you“ like some magic words, and I even was not aware who do I thank to, that dead stinky guy, my brain for noticing that small space, or God for saving me.

Today years and years later I still carry that smell inside my nose. But I did not move from there before danger was gone. It is survival and luckily I was already used to dirt enough to just stay with that dead guy.

Some folks just stopped to care about cleanliness and hygiene completely. So for them washing and cleaning become something like not wanted luxury. They went complete animal.

They simply stopped to care about these things, so I also knew some guys with look and smell so awful that even dead guy smelled like parfume store.

It was easy to surrender to stuff like that, I mean in trying to keep yourself clean.

But it was stupid not only in terms of the hygiene and illnesses, also by surrendering yourself you admit that you do not care anymore, and when you admit that you are only few steps from becoming animal with what you do too. People give up on themselves.

For me being as clean as I could be had something like preserving one of the last connection with “normal” life, with life before sh!t hit the fan, when things like neighbors, breakfast, car etc, were just things we took for granted, like things that always gonna be there unchanged.

Of course I was aware that being clean is important in order to stay alive because all diseases problem, no doctors hospitals etc. but on some psychological level it kept me sane and it kept me normal man.

Even in survival situation you need to still care about few little things to keep your dignity, to keep spirit up, to not lose yourself. If you stop caring about everything it is like disease that eats you.

When I came back from trading or scavenging in the city, I would clean or wash myself thoroughly in my yard before entering my house, again of course because common sense, hygiene and diseases, but maybe even more important I tried to keep all chaos and violence, suffering outside of my home on some psychological level.

I try to stay out of the everything, or actually I tried to keep everything outside of my home, like some ritual. I would keep the clothes for outside in bag, my boots were in one corner, never entering my room in it etc.

One of my relative wears pink slippers (mittens) when he was home sometimes, he would say that he just felt that everything is fine when he wear it. It was spooky and strange to see him in pink slippers while outside world is going to hell, but we all have some strange ways I guess to keep ourselves sane. Maybe wearing those slippers after he was forced to shoot some folks kept him sane, reminded him on some normal times when grandma wear it in the evenings.

On the other side, like I said in beginning if you stick too much to old habits you are not doing best for survival too.

So if I had to be animal, I was animal. It was about survival. For example there was a period when I eat just to survive, like animal, without paying attention what I eat or how. If I found some food I ate it in quick way, if there was some food with worms in it, I would eat it in dark, without looking what I eat etc.

Point was (and still is) to be man, but to be ready to be animal if you are forced to be animal, and thats it. It comes down to being flexible, adapting to situation and I hope this helps to crush the idea some Hollywood or fantasy survival scenarios show that survival is about being complete animal. No, it is fine line to walk.

You can (and you have to) have as much hand sanitizers, soap, disposable face masks etc. as you can but you can still end up dead if you are not ready to accept fact that one day you might be forced to „hug“ dead guy in order to survive, or eat roast rat or pigeon.

Once next collapse comes many people will wake up to reality and struggle to be human like they were or become animals and as skilled survivalist I hope you will walk fine line in between. The people who were walking that path were and Im sure will be those who have biggest chances to survive.

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60 replies
  1. j.r. guerra in s. tx.
    j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Wow – just wow. Great post Selco, a lot of information to digest, thank you for writing that. I’ve wondered how children who were born into that World came out mentally. You have touched on that in the past – I will have to re-read that.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
  2. Ron Lemke
    Ron Lemke says:

    Good post, everyone concentrates on material preparedness and ignores the metal preparedness. I suggest everyone take the NRA courses, Personal Protection Inside the Home and Personal Protection Outside the Home. They do discuss and teach the mental preparedness in killing for defense and the aftermath. It would be a good start for preparedness.

    Reply
  3. Matt Bracken
    Matt Bracken says:

    Excellent essay, as usual. Folks who have never lost normal sanitation, water and hygiene have almost no idea of how hard it is to stay clean. In the American southeast, crawling in the woods means ticks, for example, and without a chance to get very clean, the tick and spider bites will cause infections. Or even Lyme Disease and other major problems. Even a scratch on your hand can get infected and kill you, when you are living in filth with no soap and no clean water for showers. Not to mention the morale factor of having stinking, itching hair and skin all the time. Just imagine if your city tap water stopped, and never came on again. What then? SHTF pretty fast in that case.

    Reply
  4. Robin
    Robin says:

    Is the woman who sells one child so the others may live less human? The man who must leave a family member behind because they can not keep up with the rest?
    Minute after minute, hour after hour and day after day of things like this rob you of you humanity. “Lipstick” is a link to “normal” that actually you can hold and remember days past. Having a cup of real “coffee” with your neighbors becomes a celebration of “normal.”

    You become many people all living in the same skin. With your family you can relax a little. On the street you become either the deer (always afraid) or the lion. Sometimes a mixture of both. You must learn when to become the “lion” or you die.

    There again, “normal” is a thing that becomes twisted.

    As Selco says in the course: You can’t do it by yourself.

    Reply
  5. TimeHasCome
    TimeHasCome says:

    I watch the “Detroit effect ” start to sweep the nation . America is in free fall . As a country we are using 45% of the gasoline we did in 2008 . Having Selco’s vision of what could happen here is an amazing leg up .

    Reply
  6. CIVLAKFLT
    CIVLAKFLT says:

    This is a major area where I know I need to adjust and adapt. I have spent time thinking of where the nearest Kimberly-Clark factory is so that I can scavenge my own toilet paper :-) Thanks, for your continued honesty through this blog.

    Reply
    • Selco
      Selco says:

      It is huge topic, but one of the signs could be that “people went home”, i mean people from police force, emergency services and similar are just abandoning their jobs and go home to protect their families.
      Simply you ll see that life is becoming very cheap.

      Reply
    • Not Sure
      Not Sure says:

      If you don’t know the signs now, you will never know the signs.

      War is a different scenario then a slow grinding disintegration of society. Hopefully, if you have to shoot someone, it is in a war environment. To shoot someone in a disintegrating society is far more nebulous since some sort of “legal” system is usually still in place which is disjointed and schizophrenic. You DO NOT want to enter that kind of legal system.

      Oh, and, it’s not going to be “one day all is sunshine and roses” and the next it is “kill your neighbor because he/she wants your food”. Preppers and doomsdayers have a very simplistic view of life. We don’t live in a zombie movie where those that are intent on doing you harm are easily recognizable. You need to be able to assess motives and deception instantaneously. Start working on those skills now while still being a civilized individual. You won’t be given the luxury of learning “in the field”. Learn to use your sixth sense.

      Reply
      • Samson
        Samson says:

        I disagree. It could be all sunshine and roses at breakfast and by coffee break or lunch the SHTF will have ocurred. Example: NBC attack or EMP/solar flare type events. This is not being simplistic, it is realizing that it can happen that fast. One Second After. If you don’t like fiction then try Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Ask the Kurds in northern Iraq about a gas attack. Or the people in Indonesia about a tsunami. It can be a sudden event.

        Reply
  7. JL
    JL says:

    Powerful and true when I was in a prison briefly in Greece with only a postcard window of light coming in I remember just being able to smell my own shirt calmed me deeply somehow. I didn’t know if I would ever see the day or my family again but just that gave me a sense of sanity and peace. Thank you for reminding me Selco Blessings :)

    Reply
  8. s m
    s m says:

    We love our cars..fancy homes made of foam and stucco..not very bullet proof by the
    way….our roasted coffee, hot showers ..one day soon it could all come falling down
    like a house of cards….Try living in Phoenix in the summer without cooling..our food
    is trucked in. our water is pumped out of the ground, and our sewage is sent piped to
    god knows where…lol….infrastructure is a bitch….Take care people..az

    Reply
    • TimGray
      TimGray says:

      “Try living in Phoenix in the summer without cooling”

      Tens of thousands do it every day. I dont see the poor and homeless there with nice AC… And Phoenix is wimpy living for heat, Try Southern Alabama where you have the same heat plus 120% humidity so your natural sweat has no cooling effect.

      Just 30 years ago MOST of the people that Lived in Arizona had no AC at all. and 40 years ago AC was rare as hens teeth.

      Reply
  9. Ron McClain
    Ron McClain says:

    Terrible times you describe.I know,mentally,and try to prepare my mind for those times that WILL come.None of us can know if we will make it through,but in all of our preperations,let us not forget that when/if it ends and we come out the other side we must be prepared to become civilized again.When i prepare for the begining of these troubles,i try to keep from falling all the way to the bottom.My intent is when it starts i will try to keep from falling so far that i can’t get back up.I plan to be ready and able to do the things required to keep my family alive.Keep in mind though,that if you lose your humanity altogether,you have not really survived.

    Reply
  10. blackwater
    blackwater says:

    Another great lesson Selco!

    Reminds me of when I was serving and we would be in the field for days or even weeks at a time.

    The ability to just be able to wash our hands and face was a huge morale booster, I guess more than anything it was that little reminder that we were humans, not animals.

    Reply
    • JL2
      JL2 says:

      Rapid personal transitions from Mr. Citizen to Mr. Predator and back to Mr. Citizen will be required to survive and help others. Situational awareness and appropriate response to each situation will require us to act & live on a sliding scale.

      Some of us have family members that are counting on us. I’m not prepared to let my “dignity” kill me or my family.

      Reply
    • SJR
      SJR says:

      Our will to live is one of the most important things that we possess. It is our first instinct. Without it we have already lost our humanity. I cannot resist if I am dead. And if I give up then, I am already dead without my dignity. I am not living or dieing.

      Reply
    • SurvivAllExpert
      SurvivAllExpert says:

      Not sure… you need to change your name to NOT A CHANCE!
      Dignity is just a word that your family won’t understand when they are starving to death. Dignity is just a word when the women in your family are held as sex slaves by the most vile of criminals… dignity was the excuse of millions of Jews in Germany as they helped their children climb into the railroad cars that took them to the death camps.
      Put on your big boy pants and begin to prepare yourself, you owe it to those you care about! Start at BartsList.com

      Reply
  11. chuck b
    chuck b says:

    I’ve read before, maybe mentioned it here, that during WWII in London one of the things that was kept stocked in the bomb shelters was lipstick; as with your example, it had an almost magical effect on the women – which in turn had a positive effect on the children and even men. I’ve also suggested that a case of cheap lipstick would be an excellent barter item, as would hand/body lotion, cheap perfume, and other inexpensive toiletries for the women – and men, too; the opportunity to groom oneself cannot be underestimated for the importance it affords a person in dire conditions. An example right now/today would be to look at how many more ghetto/barrio women have regular and frequent manicures and hair styling, compared to most Middle-class working women that usually do so only for special occasions.
    Thank you Selco for bringing to life so many of the things that were only facts and trivia before, and also the many things that have not been said or heard before.

    Chuck B.

    Reply
    • john
      john says:

      This whole lipstick thing makes no sense to me whatsoever. It must be something the feeble minded cling to when there is nothing else to cling to. Even in this present day of peace and prosperity I prefer the looks of women who do not go in for all that ridiculous face paint, fake sun tanning, jewelry, and finger nail nonsense. The ones who do I consider mentally deficient.

      Reply
      • Jsmith
        Jsmith says:

        Don’t you think you might have overstated your point a tad?

        Wearing little bit of lipstick does not make a woman mentally deficient. This is especially true, I think, during a long-term crisis. Some men might not understand it, but “primping” is as much about feeling good as it is about looking good. I suspect that, after months/years of living on the edge of starvation and violence, the chance to do something for oneself…purely for pleasure…was immensely uplifting for the women who survived WWII concentration camps. It may have given them hope and the strength to survive one more day. I’ve no doubt that the lipstick saved lives.

        Reply
        • john
          john says:

          No, I don’t think I have. I’ve seen the ghetto trash with their 80 dollar fingernails buying junkfood and energy drinks at the grocery store with their EBT cards.

          Reply
          • JL2
            JL2 says:

            One is incapable of understanding until one is deprived of something basic and then gets it back again.

            A drink of cold water, a hot shower, a safe place to sleep.

            Lipstick is just another simple example.

      • chuck b
        chuck b says:

        John:
        Most civilized people WANT the world to be “normal,” and under such extreme SHTF conditions as the Nazi concentration camps (I’ve visited Dachau – words can’t even begin . . . ) or the rocket barrages of London (no, I’m not THAT old ;)), anything that represents “Normal times” is an expression of optimism. It has nothing to do with “feeble-minded,” rather it more represents mankind’s irrepressible drive to be civilized as much as possible. Like the Pioneer families isolated on the American plains that would put on their best clothes and read the Bible every Sunday, even though they were miles/days from any church or community; these seemingly minor (to us) token activities were the anchors that kept people from falling into the abyss of despair and savagery. If TSHTF for any of us, there doubtless will be similar feeble attempts to maintain our sanity and humanity that will likely amuse others under different circumstances that won’t understand either.
        The ones that make no such attempt, are the ones that will become the animals.

        Chuck B.

        Reply
        • john
          john says:

          I guess I’ll be one of the animals then, if/when it all happens…cuz I am almost certain I will not understand it even then. I live in a house with no airconditioning no carpeting, no dishwasher, no garbage disposal, no cable TV, and no TV reception. I drive an old flatbed pickup truck with rubber floor mats and no airconditioning or power anything. My house is a hundred years old and has the original kitchen(with a 1960 vintage refrigerator) and original furnace(converted to gas). I wear 6 dollar jeans and 9 dollar shirts. I do not shave my face. Once a week I run the electric hair clippers over my face.

          You really think I give a two *&^T%s about lipstick?

          Reply
          • wilco
            wilco says:

            Yet you have an internet connection???
            The point of the article is that there are situations that can take away everything that you are. If your 100 year old house, which you described so specifically, was torn to shreds and everything that was familiar to you disappeared or was killed, it would most definitely affect you. No matter how much you attempt to sound like you are beyond this, you are not. Take my suggestion and learn from the article, rather than just acting like there is no information pertinent to you.

    • Samson
      Samson says:

      @Chuck B.,
      For years I traveled on business, and occasionally for pleasure. I always collected the soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, mouthwash, shower caps and sewing kits. Sometimes I would ask the maid or front desk clerk for extras. These are safely tucked away for the very reasons you alluded to. It will add some sanity to a crazy situation.

      Reply
    • WoodsyMumsy
      WoodsyMumsy says:

      I just realized why my adopted Mum was so obsessed with putting on her lipstick before she does anything. She lived in northern England during the blitz.
      Funny how things like that stick with you. Both her and her husband had many issues that I think were related to their war time experiences as kids. It made them able to “turn off” their emotions.
      Like when they found out their adopted child was not white and from a British family, but actually Indian, and from a Ojibway tribe. They instantly went into “off” mode. They showed no emotion when telling her they did not want her anymore, as it would be very embarrassing to have an Indian in the family. They changed their will, and tried to legally un-adopt her. (they could not) . Decades later, they said times had changed and they were not embarrassed anymore, and she could come back so they could see the grand kids. No apology, no explanation, no interest in how the 14 year old girl managed to survive to marry and have kids. No connection that they did anything wrong or cruel or racist. They just thought they could “turn on” again and it would be the same. They had read about her son’s recent success in the news and wanted to add it to their normal appearing life as their biological kids had no children.
      They were damaged by war as kids and never recovered really.
      As this girl was me, I was damaged by a war that had ended over 20 years before I was born. My life was wiped out, I was homeless and hungry overnight as a young teen.
      I got no help from anyone, as no one could believe I had not caused my own problems or that a parent would be racist against a child they raised for 14 years.
      The only thing that saved me was the fact I was so far ahead in school, I graduated high school the year before and had started university. I had to leave as my tuition was cancelled, but I had met many people who guided me in later years.

      People can loose their humanity and become animals, as this very good article suggests. They can also become “ghosts”, shadows of humanity that look OK, but are so numb they never really feel life again. They live for the appearance of normal life, at any cost.

      Reply
      • Steve
        Steve says:

        Very powerful and moving story. Thank you for sharing. You could probably do your own SHTF survival blog based on your experiences.

        Reply
      • sloan
        sloan says:

        Bless your heart for the fear, pain, anger, confusion, disbelief, and shock you must have felt when this happened to you as a child. And yet, you were not only a survivor, but you kept your dignity and somehow turned your life into a beautiful one. Even more importantly…you stopped the madness for the next generation and raised and gave love to your wonderful kids. To have been able to handle those overwelming emotions at that young age, and then somehow find a way to comprehend and understand your ex parents and what they were going through mentally instead of just hating them was quite a process I’m sure. I wouldn’t blame you for wanting nothing to do with them and not ever seeing them again when they wanted you back, as forgiveness isn’t about keeping the bad person in your life, it’s about healing the hole in your own heart and you did it. You are a survivor and an inspiration.. Thanks for sharing.

        Reply
  12. Grog
    Grog says:

    Selco,
    Great posting and thanks for the E mail. Hygeine/Self care are good, The British, I think went a bit far with the dressing up for Dinner in Coat tails , etc, but it made a pint, Anything done to provide a sense of ” it is not all that bad” is at times a good idea, In my mind, over the top, due to things liks, well having those clothes just for day to day, However the actions of cleaning up, being presentable , and the like did do well for several events.

    Reply
  13. Rowan McDirk
    Rowan McDirk says:

    Great post.
    I already thought about this in my preps.
    Lots of soap, toothpaste,…
    I also learned shaving with a straight razor.
    No matter how dirty or tired I am, shaving always makes me feel better and fresher.

    Reply
  14. David
    David says:

    Selco, you were in a war as well as social breakdown. You are advising to become very wary very quickly ( it might be fatal not to be). At what point do you shoot first ( if you have thechance) and “ask questions afterwards”. I am in a rural situation and I feel this will be very different from the kind of urban warfare you saw. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Selco
      Selco says:

      No matter what is gonna be reason some things gonna be same – fight for resources and power on some nasty way. I agree that may be some differences of course, but main things and objectives are same. Yes, I believe that being in rural settings you are already in advance.

      Reply
  15. PrepperDude
    PrepperDude says:

    Thank you for the post. I think this is realistic information. It make you wonder, who in your neighborhood will be animals, and who will show some kind of restraint.

    I had a dream months ago where my neighbors killed each other for food and water. These were not your average gang bangers, but accountants, school teachers, attorneys, and good Christian families.

    I hope my dream was just a dream.

    Reply
  16. stevenr.f.
    stevenr.f. says:

    Sanitation and medicine are two very “un-sexy” preps. Unless you’re getting that high-speed thousand dollar med kit you don’t know how to use. That’s prepper-sexy. :/

    I spent the last couple years staying in hotels as part of my work. I took home every soap, shampoo, and lotion container I could and rat-holed them. Those are preps. Being clean is good for morale, it’s good for hygiene, it’s good for health and sanitation.

    More people died from health and sanitation than from snipers and bombs. Likewise in natural disasters like Haiti.

    When you prep for “the shit”, maybe you (and I) should take that more literally. :)

    Reply
  17. TimGray
    TimGray says:

    My father always told me, “there is a very very thin line that keeps people from acting like animals. And they will revert to acting like an animal quickly.

    I saw this first hand in a NON SHTF situation many years ago. I was wandering around the Dayton Hamfest, It is a large Swap meet for ham radio operators in Dayton Ohio every year. It was raining lightly and an airplane above was throwing papers out, well one clumped together as a full ream of paper and fell 500 feet to hit me. It hurt like hell and took me to the ground.

    As soon as people saw that the papers had money clipped to the pages, I was not helped, but trampled. They all turned into animals trying to get to those $1.00 bills stapled to the pages of paper.

    People are unrestrained animals at their core, and people will turn into dangerous animals at any moment trampling another person for money.

    Imagine what they will do in SHTF. It’s why the basis of my plan is to bug out early and get as far away from people as possible.

    Reply
    • Selco
      Selco says:

      Yep. Can you imagine how folks gonna react when there is no law, no punishment (in terms of services of modern society) and when use of force is only what you need to achieve something? Lot of bad folks waiting for that, and also lot of folks that call themselves “good and moral” men gonna realize that they actually like new situation where they can do lot of stuff.

      Reply
    • Malgus
      Malgus says:

      People fight teeth and claws for the trendiest Christmas presents right now…

      What do you think they will do in a real crisis? Economic disaster/hyperinflation?

      Like New Orleans… only bigger and badder… way bigger and way badder.

      Reply
    • Dave
      Dave says:

      I would think that leaving an urban area becomes a challenge in itself. If you are traveling with family you have to have food, water and security. Not to mention the education or knowledge to adapt to cold camps or river crossings. When you do escape, where are you going to go? You are either pre-set with a BOL or you are hoping for the mercy of a stranger. Unless, of course as Selco says, one might return to being an animal and fight with someone over their scraps.
      Urban flight must be pre-planned and trained on, to be effective. You should have several routes in mind. Personally, I moved to a rural setting so I don’t have to go anywhere.

      Great article Selco, I always enjoy reading your postings.

      Reply
  18. Scoutness
    Scoutness says:

    At work today, a woman had not been changed from her surgical dressing for three days and had blood caked all over her. Smelled like the zombie apocalypse. I wanted to back out, but I told myself that exposing myself now would save me from shock one day. We cleaned her up and she was fine, but I can still smell it even hours after. I was there taking care of her and she’s better now, but I wonder what that makes me if I expose myself to that without looking away so that some day I will be alive a minute longer than the guy next to me who can’t handle it.

    Reply
  19. Poster1
    Poster1 says:

    You care what people on the internet think about you, which is even worse since you’ve already spent more time writing your replies than it takes for women to apply lipstick.

    Sounds like you are already living in an economic and social SHTF situation. Why prepare for the possibility of SHTF deprivations by definitely suffering them on purpose? Get a better job, invest, try the friend thing.

    Reply
  20. WatchNPray
    WatchNPray says:

    According to earth-policy.org…

    “U.S. motor gasoline consumption peaked at 142 billion gallons in 2007. In each year since, American drivers have used less gasoline. In 2012, gas use came in at 134 billion gallons, down 6 percent off the high mark.”

    Shifts are occurring but not too disruptive so far; it is a delicate balance to be certain.

    Reply
  21. twincougars
    twincougars says:

    At one point in my life my family and I were living in a somewhat primitive fashion. The nearest water was a creek a half mile away and we only had a few dishes, so it was not practical to carry them all the way to the creek to wash them every time they got used. I redefined the word “clean” as any dish where you could still see part of the dish through the caked on food! We survived, and hard times, when you look back on them, can be some of the happiest times of your life. As a family, it brings you closer, because you have to work together and count on each other to get by. In our labor-saving techno-crazy world, we don’t have to count on each other as much, or even talk to each other…we can text!

    Reply
  22. Mike
    Mike says:

    Thank you for your article and insight. My educational background is psychology, but my passion is survival training. I have been writing and re-writing a similar article on this for a long time but it lacks the personal experience that you bring to it. I have been around some very devastating events…floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc., but I have only witnessed the carnage that it has brought to others, and rendered aid. It is impossible to imagine the fortitude that it takes to endure such hardships, and the most ignored issue in survival.
    While we do rely upon our gear we tend to ignore the emotional, and physiological, strain that such situations will put on us. This in the end is what separates survivors from victims in every case.

    Reply
  23. sloan
    sloan says:

    Selco-

    I love your blog and the things that you write and the way that you write. I am female and yes, I am into all the dumb gadgets and stuff and have read hundreds of things which have led me to a belief that SHTFcould happen to anyone, anywhere. Nowhere else have I read anything like the way you describe it, both the exterior surroundings, the inner way you felt and your analysis of the situations and people. I don’t think anything I have ever read has affected me so deeply as your heartfelt, no holds barred manner in which you speak about the truth and reality, and the way you are helping us prep in the right way.. What you are sharing, are things I would never have thought about and reading your work will make things not so shocking. If I am ever in any rough situation, I will think back to your words and keep moving forward knowing I’m not alone, someone has been there and survived. Thank you a thousand times. My boyfriend works with guys from your country who were in that war as children, have scars and they are also the most beautiful people he knows. Please don’t ever stop writing, I believe the things I learn from you may save myself and others, mentally and physically someday. And even if something this severe never happens, your take on humanity in general is very helpful in understanding regular everday situations as well. Hope you have found happiness. Through your suffering you are helping so many people.

    Reply
  24. ScoutMotto
    ScoutMotto says:

    Thank you for the frank descriptions, Selco. I’m trying to imagine all the comforts being gone and all the freeze-dried foods being used up, and admittedly my imagination is painting a bleak picture. I also imagine leaving almost everything behind and going somewhere else with some other folks where we survive together for who-know-how-long.

    Reply
    • chuck b
      chuck b says:

      The ever-looming question remains “survive on WHAT?” for who-knows-how-long! That’s the question that is most difficult for most of us, who have rarely missed a meal, to come to terms with or even imagine. Especially those of us with family – wife, kids, grandkids – that must rely on what we provide.
      Including “creature comforts” like lipstick :~)
      But seriously, remember that in Europe after the war it was chocolate bars and stockings that “won hearts and minds” more than anything else. Glass beads and pretty trinkets purchased a continent (in the beginning). Creature comforts cannot be over-estimated in their importance. Even as air, water, and food that nourish the body, it is the seemingly trivial things that often “nourish” mental health.

      Chuck B.

      Reply

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