What Is A Survivalist?

by Cope Reynolds The media and the uninformed public seem to insist that the survivalist is a pessimist and, in some minds, even a menace. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. A survivalist by nature is an optimist. The general public, the media and certainly the government have a difficult time understanding the concept of an optimistic, responsible and hopeful survivalist. A fireman is a fireman, not because he believes everything will burn, but because he believes much can be saved. Doctors do not practice for death, they practice for life and a survivalist is not a survivalist because he believes everything must be destroyed and everyone must die. The survivalist believes that life and liberty can be saved if people of good will are prepared. A fireman does not start fires, a doctor does not make disease and a survivalist does not make disaster. Crime, disease, war, revolution, fire, flood, social or financial collapse and famine are all results of either nature or the nature of man and unfortunately are not within the power of any earthly being to prevent. We all know that each day will end in darkness and that the summer will eventually give way to cold winters and that we can do nothing to prevent either. But we prepare for both. Does this make us pessimistic? Hardly. So then why is the survivalist labeled a pessimist when he prepares to face events that are just as much a part of history and nature as the setting of the sun and the changing of the seasons?

Another common misconception is that survivalists are predicting, if not welcoming, a large-scale disaster. On the contrary, we seem to be the optimistic minority that is predicting world survival. It is not likely that you will find many educated professionals or military strategists that can come up with a scenario that gives even a 50-50 chance of avoiding a large-scale catastrophe at some point in the foreseeable future, yet we survivalists dare to be optimistic about our future. Survivalists do not need to predict the probability of disaster any more than they need to predict the sun setting. Those who criticize survivalists, are like men who refuse to look at a calendar in hopes that, through self‑imposed ignorance, they can keep from aging another year.

There are those who are foolish enough to think that survivalists will somehow be disappointed if there is not a disaster of Biblical proportions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those of us who consider ourselves survivalists have loved ones that we do not want to see injured or killed and homes that we do not want to see destroyed. We have careers, dreams and expectations just like everyone else and they do NOT include living in a cave and foraging for food for the rest of our lives. It would be indescribably stupid to think that just because we have prepared for the worst that it would somehow be fun for us or that some of us may not experience some of the same dangers and losses as those who did not prepare.

The true survivalists have spent a great deal of time and money to help ensure their survival and subsequent recovery from a disaster but they would be tremendously relieved if, someday, they could be assured that they had wasted their time and money. No, they will not be disappointed if there is no disaster to survive any more than the Red Cross would be disappointed if there were no more floods and storms or the man who buys an insurance policy would be disappointed if his house fails to burn down. Certainly the survivalist would much prefer the pleasant (albeit unlikely) surprise of being wrong to the deadly rude (and probable) awakening that the non-survivalist will face if he is wrong.

The survivalist’s preparations will not be wasted. Regardless of what lies ahead, his stores will still be of value. It is sad, as well as illogical, that the unprepared sometimes consider the survivalist a threat. Ironically, in times of crisis, those who have not prepared to turn TO each other, will most assuredly turn ON each other. So, who, then, is the threat to the general public? Each person who has not prepared in some way to survive when the basic necessities of life are not readily available is a great danger to his neighbors.

Hunger is a tremendous motivator. Personally, one of my biggest fears is to hear my children say, “Daddy, I’m hungry” and not be able to do anything about it. To think that ANYONE’s children may be hungry or cold because the parents were too selfish or apathetic to spend a few bucks and a little time to make the necessary preparations to prevent it, is appalling to me. Someone in that position may ask or even beg his neighbors for help but when they have no extra provisions to give, do you think he will just say, “Thanks anyway” and go back home to watch his kids die? This man will become a desperate and dangerous menace to anyone that he thinks may have what his children need to fill their aching tummies. Those who stock up on food, medicine and other supplies will be doing society a favor because the things that they purchase for their storage will be quickly replaced on the shelves so there will be that much more available in an emergency. Those who are prepared won't be looting and killing for what they need. They won't be a burden on the medical facilities or a danger to the police. Since they will be able to turn to each other, they will have no need to turn on anyone and may even be able to help at least a few.

It is one’s own personal responsibility and duty to society to make preparations for uncertain times. One can experience anything from loss of job or the household bread-winner being injured and unable to work to a major terrorist attack or financial collapse. Utility and transportation disruptions, labor strikes, storms, injuries and lay-offs are all examples of what could become short-term survival situations. The preparations that one makes may mean the difference between comfort and suffering or even living and dying in severe conditions.

It boils down to the fact that survivalists are optimistic, self‑reliant individuals who understand the importance of preparing for the worst possible events while, at the same time, sincerely hoping that they never happen.

Yes, I am a survivalist and damned proud of it. If, God forbid, anything ever happens that should threaten my family’s health, comfort and way of life, I hope that I have made good decisions and plans in the past to secure our future. If I have not attempted to the best of my ability to do so, I feel that I will have to answer to Him for my negligence.

You can choose to be an asset to your family and community by making plans, conducting practice drills and making preparations for short and long-term survival of unknown conditions or you can choose to be part of the problem by pretending that “it” can never happen to you. Not here. Not in your lifetime.

How much are you willing to bet?

Cope has been a defensive firearms instructor since 1995. He is also a gunsmith and lifetime shooter, hunter and reloader and hosts an internet radio show called The Shooting Bench. He currently lives in northern Arizona and is running Apache County Sheriff.

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