Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Re-learning the "Lost Art" of Survival

Christopher Nyerges

[Nyerges is the author of “How to Survive Anywhere,” “Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants,” “Extreme Simplicity,” and other books. He teaches urban and outdoor survival skills. See the schedule at]

“Survival” is a broad term that ties us all together.  In fact, in the broadest sense, just about everything we do is about survival.  Well, maybe not today because we’ve grown so technologized and specialized that we take everything for granted as we’ve forgotten our roots.

Think about it.  The rise from foraging to agriculture, and then farming, and food storage and processing.  That’s all about food, a basic of survival.  The development of villages, towns, cities, was all about pooling our resources so we could all work together for our mutual survival and upliftment.  With towns, and many people packed together, you need some sort of guidelines, thus, the development of government, and police, and fire departments, and even the building and safety departments of most cities.  The building industry with all its aspects is all about our mutual survival.  At its very essence, the large hardware stores are all about our survival from the little things to the big things, like fixing roof leaks.

So much has been developed over the last few hundred years for our basic survival that we tend to forget that someone or someones had to DO all those steps to make survival possible, and easy.  We have traveled a long path down the road from our grand parents who were still rural, and who knew how to live in the woods, and who knew how to use a rifle and an outhouse and raise food.  And the further we traveled down the technology path, the less we seem to know how to do the most very basic tasks that ensure personal survival and strength. 

What does one do?  How should you go forward in this ever-more complex and ever-more dangerous world.  You begin by educating yourself: Reading the books, and the magazines, and watching the Youtube channels, that cater to this specific interest.  And you should join like-minded groups of individuals who are working to learn these lost arts and forgotten skills.

And yes, obtain the gear and supplies that you need, just in case you can’t get to the store after an emergency.

Most important is to expand your perspective and raise your awareness.  I want you to read just a few books and try to grasp the deep message that each contains.  Consider their messages “survival tools” for your future.  I am only suggesting a few books here, but each is a valuable tool in understanding the world we live in, and understanding our future.

“The Twilight of American Culture” by Morris Berman  is a thoughtful look at the decline of western civilization, and what can be done about it, if anything.

“Language in Thought and Action” by S.I. Hayakawa is perhaps the single best book about how the words we choose affects our reality, and how we can improve our ability to think and communicate.  And isn’t communication a major “survival tool”?

“True Believer” by Eric Hoffer is perhaps the quintessential book on mass movements and cults, and teaches you “how to believe.”  Though written decades ago, this provides unique insight to today’s terrorist movements, and other forms of mob mentality.

“Democracy is Self-Government” by H.W. Percival is a must-read if you are to grasp what is wrong with modern politics. The author shows that individual self-government is the only path to real democracy.

And last, “The Art of Loving” by Eric Fromme shares how love is the answer to the problem of human existence, and he attempts to define the many real and counterfeit forms of love.

Yes, have your knife, gear, and pantry of food, but don’t stop there.

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