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I have talked to and interacted with a lot of different types of preppers throughout my writing for Backdoor Survival, and one thing we all need to work on is appreciating the skills of others and encouraging strengths while not always highlighting the weaknesses in us all.
You don’t have to be a tactical person or ex-military to survive.
Online, I occasionally run into a younger soldier that has a real attitude about all of us that don’t have military experience. In this particular case, this person got very angry when I shared an article and expressed the opinion that looking very tactical during an SHTF scenario and standing out, as a result, may not be a good thing to do. Being in the military and the associated skills are great, but I think a few of the younger guys need to realize others have skills too even if they don’t think as tactically.
Sorry to single out the younger ones but I have not run into older soldiers that were so hostile if you suggest that tactical gear and uniforms are not always the best approach in the civilian world.
On the other side of this, someone like me needs to be patient and realize that the person on the other side may be suffering from some major issues related to combat or they may simply feel threatened that their way may not be the best choice all the time.
Ex and current military can offer a group a lot if everyone can work together and value one another.
Accepting varying levels of physical fitness and focusing on strengths
Age, disability, obesity, and chronic medical conditions can all influence how much physical activity that some can do and for how long. In any group, there are going to be people that vary at least some. Body size also matters. Sorry to offend but as a woman that has worked on mixed gender logging crews and did a ton of physical labor beside men, the strength difference can be a lot even if you are pretty good size woman. There are exceptions of course.
“When SHTF some of this politically correct stuff is going to have to be thrown out the door because the reality is harsh and not realizing peoples strength and weaknesses can result in serious consequences.”
If you lift and carry more than your body can actually handle and have serious issues, then you are going to be less useful to your family. I cannot tell you how many times I have got mad and stubborn and lifted things that I should not have. Don’t be too stubborn to ask for help.
The other side is the person that may have to do more of the heavy lifting be that man or woman. If you are one of the stronger people in your group, then consider all the things that others are doing for you to keep your needs met. Let’s say you are the one that is carrying all the firewood and toting water most of the time. Perhaps that means someone is doing the filtering, cooking meals, and tending the fire for you while you are doing other things or having a bit of time to rest?
Survival in a family or group situation is about trade-offs and appreciating that it is not about doing it all yourself but working together to maintain home and your family or group unit.
No one needs to feel useless
A big problem that can happen during hard times, especially SHFT type scenarios, is that some people can feel useless. This often happens to older people and younger. People do best when they have a purpose of some sort. It doesn’t have to be something groundbreaking; it just needs to be something that makes someone feel like they have value.
Food preparation, cleaning, storytelling, watching children, and offering knowledge are all very useful things that can help someone feel like they are doing something.
Never underestimate the power of purpose. People can have a tendency to simply give up when they are in bad circumstances and lose a sense of purpose.
This brings up the fact that sometimes someone gives up and you are forced to go about your duties and just leave them be. There will be people that simply give up regardless of how much people try to do for them. You can try to give someone back the will to live, but ultimately that choice is theirs to make.
Instead of thinking about what a person is not doing for you, consider what they are actively doing for you. Someone may be taking on more than you realize until you take a good look at what is really going on.
List of simple tasks that people learn fast
- Food preparation
- Simple sewing and repairs
- General cleaning and hygiene
- Food preservation
- Tending fires
- Feeding livestock
- Keeping watch so that the group stays safe
- Cleaning and oiling firearms and knives
- Whittling and carving
- Gathering firewood
- Route planning and navigation
- Gathering water and filtering
- Laundry duties
- Storytelling and counseling to keep up morale
- Tending to the sick
- Watching and entertaining children
More specialized skills that are great to have in a group
- Ability to play musical instruments
- Carpentry knowledge and skills
- Ammo reloading (requires some stockpiled supplies)
- Advanced medical training
- Basic electronic repair
- Identification and foraging of edible plants, fruit, and nuts.
- Basic plumbing knowledge
- General household repairs
- Ham radio and advanced communications
Never stop learning
People can learn a lot of skills quickly if they are really interested. Don’t be above learning new skills and realizing that others can help you gain these. If you want to learn something and someone says they are not that good of a teacher, then tell them the only way to improve is to do it more and that you really want to learn.
Be willing to teach
Like any relationship, learning to appreciate the skills of others also means exchanging knowledge and the ultimate form of that is teaching someone to do something new or helping them improve their skills if you have more experience.
Teaching gets easier the more you do it, and people will remember that you took the time for them.
Someone may not learn something as fast as you. We all have our strengths.
Some people are just naturals at things. Matt and I have been shooting with people that had never shot a real-life gun before, and they pick up a .22, get a little bit of instruction and safety info, and the hit the target every time.
There may be some skill you have that you just picked up in no time at all that may be quite difficult for others to learn. Getting too impatient or critical can lead to someone simply giving up.
Strive to always look at both sides of an issue
No matter how you identify, worship, or vote for, a big problem I see is the complete and utter intolerance for even attempting to see the other side of an issue or argument. I might consider something heinous, but I still want to know that side of it because how can I logically make the best argument against something that I have not analyzed entirely from all angles? Sure I am going to miss some things, but I am sure going to try to get to the root of the logic or lack thereof.
It drives me a little batty when someone gets mad if you ask them to explain a viewpoint. If you believe in something, then you should be able to respond without automatically assuming the person is either in disagreement with you or questioning your integrity. People sometimes genuinely want to know what led you to your belief or conclusion so they can take this into account when deciding how they feel about an issue.
You do not do your beliefs any favors when you automatically shut someone out when they inquire about something.
Offer praise along with criticism
People need to hear when they are doing something well or making good progress. It can be easy to dish out criticism faster than praise. There are plenty of people that only write negative product reviews even though there are plenty of products they like but never take the time to express praise.
Confidence can be shattered fast and hard to get back if someone feels like they are never recognized for doing something right or nice for others.
Check in with your group once in a while
Asking someone how they are doing too much can be annoying, but it is important to keep tabs on how people are doing during an SHTF situation or long emergency.
There may be small changes that can be made to improve circumstances. It can be easy to miss what is going on with everyone and any potential problems that affect the morale and overall well being of your group. Does someone feel like they have too heavy of a workload? Are there people that others feel like are not contributing enough to everyday tasks? Is someone being bullied?
Dealing with hierarchy and jealousy within a group
Families and groups usually have a hierarchy of sorts. During good times this structure may be resented but tolerated by some. If SHTF and people are banding together or if the unofficial leader is sick or unable to perform tasks, the situation can get weird fast.
I think it is good to have a few people that take on leadership roles. When everyone is trying to be an equal leader, it can be hard to make some decisions. Someone has to be in charge of conducting a vote to make a group choice or simply helping the group stay organized.
The other people in a group will not take kindly to being treated unequally. If as a leader you show very obvious favoritism, it can cause dissent. Obviously, some special consideration for people like your children is expected, especially if you have a larger group that is not necessarily your family. Most people won’t get jealous over that type of relationship, but some will use it to fuel their argument that you are playing favorites.
Jealousy and problems with leadership need to be worked out as soon as a problem is noticed or the problem will just get worse and blow up in everyone’s face. This usually happens at the worse possible time, when things are very stressful, and everyone really needs to keep it together.
Children and teens have to grow up fast during an SHTF scenario so make sure you praise them as they learn and grow their skills.
A long emergency or SHTF situation can make kids lose a big chunk of their childhood that they are never going to be able to get back. Sometimes those that before SHTF, acted pretty goofy and immature, will become very serious and responsible as they accept the new reality around them.
Growing into an adult and learning a so much at once can be a lot to deal with so do what you can to be encouraging and accept that older kids may have to do some things that you might have considered way too dangerous before SHTF.
Remember that years ago, 15 and 16-year-olds were doing a lot of hard tasks. Modern society has allowed us to not grow up as fast, but that doesn’t mean teens are not still capable of a lot when push comes to shove.
Samantha Biggers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.