Self-Reliance in our Contemporary Culture

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RightHand, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    With apologies to @RightHand for this edit -
    Here's an old thread showing that the "hobby" of prepping, the thinking that lies behind it has not changed.

    Before survival comes self-reliance. Lately, I've been thinking about how difficult it is to remain self-reliant in our contemporary culture. We all work long hours and it's easier to go to the store and buy what we need than to provide by our own hands.

    Here on the SM we talk a lot about survival techniques and practices but most of us won't implement the preparations until we are forced to.

    Most of us can't afford to back away from our full time jobs in order to live truly self-reliant lives but I think it's important for us to spend a little more time in self-reliant pursuits and a little less time at the local Wal-Mart.

    Anyone have any thoughts about this?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2016
  2. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    My stepson, who only has a job because he went into rehab several months ago and quit drinking totally, called from jail this morning in New Orleans needing us to send money so they would let him go; the charge was drunk and disorderly. He tried to excuse it with a "My Bad" and "I fell off the wagon". My wife and I have only had maybe twenty-five crappy days together in the 17 years we've been married and except for three or four deaths, all of them have been because Mr. I can handle it, couldn't and got either fired , arrested, or beaten up while he was drunk. He got a lesson in self-reliance this morning and is still sitting in jail, where he can stay until he figures out how to get out on his own.
  3. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Sometimes the hardest, but best thing to do, as a parent, is nothing. Sorry you and Mrs SC had to deal with that today Seacowboys.
  4. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I have been trying to figure this out too RH. I feel like a little eagle standing on the edge of a very high nest awaiting flight lessons but am too afraid of hitting the ground with a splat.

    One of these days I'm going to post that I quit all the fake 'work for credits to buy food' rather than just work for your food and finally went out and did it. Or that I moved to the Islands to do the same. Or, that I blew my head off with a 50BMG. Something has to give as I'm getting sick of what passes for 'living' in this day and age.
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I really don't think there is a mystery here at all. It's a matter of time and inclination. Most of us are working for the man, and have lives besides. Truth be known, it's the grandparents or retirees that have the time and energy to devote to planning, but realistically, their horizon is closer, thus the plans and preps are, or can be, less intensive. We all like to think we are self reliant, but until some sort of wakeup call comes in, we won't know of that, nor of how well prepared we are.

    That said, there is no point to pulling out your hair over it, you simply do what you can for yourself and your family. Go for the best you can, and don't worry too much. There is little enough you can do anyway, other than keeping your wits about you.

    We cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be ready for anything. Those of us that are planning to bug in will find themselves in bug out mode and vice versa. Being ready for both is expensive of time as well as money that might be better spent elsewhere. Only the super rich can do both, either because they have staff to do it for them, or because they don't have to work.

    Relax and enjoy the hobby, it can be fun. Thinking is good sport, after all.
  6. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I guess that one of my questions relates to earnings - when is enough..enough. Are we so conditioned to acquiring goods that we may not even need that we labor beyond what is really required. When most of us were starting our in life, we had fewer monatary resources but we seemed to make do and were happier with what we had. I'm past the pioint in my life that I have any burning desire for wealth but I wish I felt less dependent on buying to fill my needs. When I had a young family, money was scarce but we weren't broke either. My husband worked very hard at a regular job then we both worked part time on a local farm, not for money but for credit - we earned a steer every year and all the raw milk we wanted. We had a garden and I canned. I made all of our bread and sewed all of our cloths. I remember being very content. As the years passed, more money earned means more "things", a bigger house, another car, more evenings out. But I know that I was never as happy as I was when I felt he and I were taking care of our family with own hands.

    I guess I'm a little meloncholy tonight. Just memories of simplier times that I long for.
  7. ripsnort

    ripsnort Monkey+++

    We were completely self sufficient hunter gatherers for 2 million years, then we developed agriculture 10,000 years ago, then in a few generations of the industrial age we have turned into what?? Many people have few real skills. Many who do have skills, have skills that are so narrow and specialized that they are like a machine part.
    But if you have the motivation its a great time to practice self-reliance as a hobby. Great tools and technology are available, and affordable. Now that is.
    Brokor likes this.
  8. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    We went from double income, no kids to single income, three kids. The way we looked at it was "Do we want to be well-off, or do we want our children to be well-off?". We're doing okay. Our kids are happy. And we have a family. Family time, family fun. I think that simpler is better.

    I still have a long way to go. I've been talking to my "elders" and realize just how much they never taught me (or how much I never took the time to learn) while growing up. I think I've convinced my Auntie to pull out her canning stuff and teach me how this year (I'm pretty jazzed about that). Oh sure; I can buy canned goods - but nothing beats that special recipe of grandmas, ya'know?!
  9. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Especialy once you have some dirt under you that is YOURS (not yours AND the banks) and same for a reliable car (or better yet truck) then it becomes a lot easier to be self reliant (or at least largely so) IF you choose to. It still makes things a LOT easier and I would even say better if you still have some income but you dont need NEARLY as much income if you are self reliant.

    The need for income is directly disproportional to how self reliant you are. The more you are willing to do for your self the less income you need, therefore the less time you need to be working and the more time you have to devote to being self reliant.

    It would be VERY difficult to be tending a garden and/or orchard that would provide all/most of your fruit and veggie needs, raising and/or butchering all the animals to fill your meat needs, cutting the wood to take care of your heating needs and so on while working 40-60 hours per week. On the other hand if your land and car are already paid off and you arent trying to see how much 'stuff' you can collect or running through a load of money for other stuff like travel, partying or whatever, then when you no longer need to buy any ( or very little) food, no longer need to pay a heating bill, no longer have to make mortgage payments and so on then you dont have NEAR the money going out. So if you are able to do a little something in the way of a cottage industry job (selling crafts, selling extra from the garden, etc) or work a 'normal' job on a part time basis then you can still cover what bills are left, buy the things you cant make yourself that make life so much easier and more comfortable and so on with what is still comeing in AND have the time to devote to produceing the things you no longer have to buy.
  10. oldteacher

    oldteacher Monkey+++

    We would like to become more self-sufficient. We have planted a garden for the first time in 30 years. We would like to install solar panels to pump the deep well, but lack the expertise. Can't find anybody in south ga who knows how, including the power company. We were up at 2:30A.M. watching walb's channel 10. It seemed a new tornado popped up every few minutes. Anybody built storm/fallout shelters in this area? The doublewide shook and that was not a good feeling knowing there was no place to go in the dark at 2:30 in the morning. I would like to build a shelter that would double as storage for the John Deere mower,which lets out the culverts. I have looked at the sites for shelters, but am on a fixed income. Any ideas, anyone?
  11. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    To be totally off-grid and self sufficient requires a lot of $$$$$ if you do not want a dramatic shift in your lifestyle. That is the one thing that I am not prepared for. I like my high speed internet, I like my HDTV, I like the modern conveniences, I like the fact that we can have dinner at a restaurant and we do not have to kill what is on the menu. Now if the time comes when all of this is gone, and we have to do it ourselves then we will. We have gotten by without the internet, without HDTV, without these modern conveniences. I was raised on ranches, I have also slaughtered beef, deer, pork, chickens, sheep, goats, etc. etc. Can I do so again, yes I can. Do I want to have to do this all of the time, no. I choose not to change to the simple life in it's purest form, if it is forced upon me then we will survive, as we have before, and as was the life of our forefathers. Until that time I choose to make baby steps towards preparing.

    BTW, SC I hate to hear what you are having to endure. This young man needs a kick in the pants. The type that will tell him he is on his own. Tough love is more difficult for parents, than the children that it is being imposed upon. Stay the course. He will not change as long as he has an enabler to bail him out, literally and figuratively. It has to be his decision to change. Change cannot be forced upon those that are unwilling. Good luck my friend.
  12. Pru

    Pru Monkey+++

    This is something that I have been thinking about for a long time. Our culture promotes specialization, which in turn promotes inter-reliance. Now that may not be a bad thing, in and of itself; communities generally are good.

    However, I feel the pendulum has now swung too far. Modern Americans are becoming a population of experts who only know how to do one thing: the trade/profession for which they have trained. They then hire someone to do everything else.

    We are encouraged to "leave it to the experts." Leave what, you might ask... EVERYTHING: housecleaning, yardwork, cooking, child care and education, making & (dry) cleaning clothes, household accounting and tax preparation, selling property, medical care, pest removal, food production, weapons production and the ability to make water potable.

    Basic things that we need to survive are relegated to the experts. Certainly I appreciate turning on the tap to obtain clean water, but I know how to get it if the tap ever doesn't work. I also enjoy a meal at a restaurant, but I know how to grow, gather/butcher, store & cook food for my family. As an RN, I think modern medical care is a great benefit to our society, but I would like to see individuals who can treat basic illnesses & injuries at home, as well as provide basic nursing care to the sick.

    In the quiet of the night, I don my tin-foil hat and wonder if this is a deliberate trend to make the populace more dependent upon 'somebody' to bring them what they need, or if this trend 'just happened' as we became more industrialized.

    RH, you asked:
    My thoughts are: Yes, we should learn more skills that will enable us to be self-reliant. We should practice those skills with some regularity. But I don't think it's a requirement to live that way full time.

    For example: I know how to bake bread from scratch, and I do so about once a week. We enjoy it alongside dinner. However, for sandwiches, my dh really prefers the size and shape of store-bought sliced bread. So I buy it. But the difference between me & Mrs. Jones (of the "keeping up with the Jones'"), is that if the SHTF, it will be an easy transition to homemade bread for those who eat in my kitchen.

    I think most of us can agree that living in post-SHTF society will be very challenging. Not all of us are prepared to undertake that degree of difficulty in our everyday lives right now. But as long as we keep the tools and practice the skills periodically, I think that's okay.

    One of my goals for this year is to learn some new skills that will be beneficial when the SHTF. I'm working on prioritizing a list of skills, taking into account my dh's skills, and determining where redundancy is nice and where it's a must.
    Brokor likes this.
  13. Shadowman

    Shadowman Monkey+++

    It doesn’t require a lot of money…but it does require that you IGNORE a lot of B.S. I learned during the long months in the field before Desert Storm that you really don’t need all that much to get by on. Most of what we worry about around us in this modern society is pure garbage, commercial hype and crap! You don’t need running water, you don’t need electrical lights, you don’t need a lot of the “STUFF” that sold to us as mandatory. Yes running water is nice, indoor plumbing is nice...but not necessary. You have to decide that is truly necessary and what is a luxury. When I moved to <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Colorado</st1:place></st1:State> I lived in a KOA in a converted school bus. My overhead costs were bare minimal yet my material needs were more than met. When I bought a house here I didn’t have a ton of furniture, no cable, no fancy stuff, just the basics and I had plenty of time and money to do what I really wanted to do. My place was very ZEN….and I kind of miss it. It was simple…it was calm and it was neat.

    I really think we have become far too materialistic. We’ve bought into the having the latest and greatest and brightest bobbles when in fact they are not necessary! Human kind really needs very little to survive and only a little more to thrive. Why burden yourself down with more junk than you need? To make some corporation rich? Why? Minimize, minimize, minimize! My next place will be much smaller and my shop much bigger. But I will strive to keep it SIMPLE!
  14. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Are we, as a society, too reliant on others? Hell yes, just look to Katrina and it's aftermath.
    Can we, as a society reverse the reliance on others? Not as a whole, there are too many people that believe our government, who can't balance their books, will take care of them.

    Now, for my little part. I grew up on a farm, I learned how to raise and butcher our own meat, grow a garden, and take care of the land. But, guess what, like almost all kids, I didn't like doing that stuff at the time so I never paid any attention to it and didn't work on the skills. Now that I have my own family I am having to work on some of those skills. I've got a small garden, that I try to increase the size every year by adding new plants. I figure the more I can get from my own garden, the better I know the food will be.

    One other area of "self-reliance" that needs work in our country is financial self-reliance. How many people in this country are in debt up to their eyeballs because they believe "debt is a tool"? I can't remember where I heard it, but there was a story of an older gentleman who lived through the "great depression". He said that while the banks were folding and going under, he lost all of his savings, but somehow, he still had to repay all of his debts to those banks. Funny, the banks lost the money that was entrusted to them, but yet couldn't loose the loans.
    My family is working our way out of our debts (2 paid off this year, and Lord willin' the other 4 will be gone within' the next 12 months).

    OK, I'll get off the soap box now, time to get back to work, the boss is circling around like a buzzard looking for food :)
  15. dukenukum

    dukenukum Monkey+++

    [soap] I have been thinking a lot about this for a while seems no one can make anything by hand or cook from scratch or plant a garden or use a canner on another forum I posted I was making a tactical vest and found some d.i.y people are left it is sad how many people think it must come from a store my parents were big on do it yourself when we added on to the house we and extended family did the work the only thing we hired done was digging the hole for the new basement my first 10 speed was one I fixed up from parts in a junk pile . a friend laments that when his kids were young he did not have the money to spend on them the way he wanted to he did spend a lot of time with them they grew up to be out standing adults in mho the kids and parents did alright and they can do for themselves and both got collage paid for based on academics .
  16. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    "Advertisings got us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy s*it we don't need. The things you own end up owning you". - Tyler Durden
  17. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Thats really it, you have to step outside of the conditioning we have all recieved and recognize the difference between true needs and wants/luxuries. Then you decide which luxuries you REALLY want or need to be comfortable then elimenate the rest. Once you do that and get youself used to working on cash based finances (IF you keep credit cards they are STRICTLY for emergencies) and pay off your debts then the need for additional income drops WAY off and so after a short time you can have some saveings built up and then reduce the time spent chaseing the dollar and have the time to spend doing what you want and/or more time produceing the things you need and/or really want for yourself thus further reduceing your need for income.......which also reduces the amout of time you spend working for the government and those on the dole.
  18. FerFAL

    FerFAL Monkey+++

    Trust me on this one, even if the fecal matter splats all over their faces, most people choose to go denial.
    I suppose it’s a powerful defense mechanism.
    Simply going blindfolded through life is much easier that taking responsibility into your own hands. At least that’s how it works for most people.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2016
  19. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    [ditto] Good point FF, and welcome to the board.

    "Hmmm... That's wrong, somebody should do something about it. Pass me another beer and let's see if the game is on." - John Q. Public
  20. Joe Dan

    Joe Dan Monkey+++

    I have a "9-5".


    We (my family and I)
    Raise goats
    Milk goats
    Make cheese
    Eat goats

    Grow a garden
    Can produce

    Pick wild greens
    Dry wild greens

    Pick wild fruit

    Raise chickens
    Eat eggs
    Sell eggs
    Eat chickens

    Fix our own cars half the time

    Do our own plumbing repairs

    Cook from scratch (brownies from ground wheat and cocoa powder)

    Grind wheat
    Grind corn
    Make stuff from the flour and meal

    Hunt critters
    Butcher our own meat
    Can meat

    Chop our own wood

    Dug a well

    Put up our fencing

    Build sheds, barns, dog houses


    We are trying to be as self sufficient as possible given the situation (my job). Our idea is to master the basic skills before we move out on our own.

    We can all do more.

    On money:
    What we "need" is very minimal. By "we" I mean all of us.

    Speaking just for me, my money needs aren't that great:
    Some money for critter feed
    repair parts for this and that every now and then.

    We don't:
    Eat out very often
    "Go out"
    Go to movies
    Buy new cars
    Have cable or satellite tv
    Buy many new clothes
    pay for most repairs or fixer-ups
    Buy a whole lot of "stuff"

    The reason I work is to help get my kids through college. When they are done - so am I :)
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