Adaptability: the Key to Ongoing Survival when the SHTF
by Jeremiah Johnson, Ready Nutrition This article is dedicated to CSM (Command Sergeant Major) Thomas “Pappy” Jones, Retired, United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, we’re off and running on Part 2 of our series on Survival Adaptability. We mentioned the factors of adaptability and ongoing to characterize how you must pursue survival. We stated a critical phrase to remember, and here it is to refresh:
The mission remains the same, but the situation dictates the conduct of the mission.
You must always be prepared to exercise your critical thought process and act upon it by making deliberate decisions in order to adjust to the constantly changing situations you will face. You must root yourself firmly in facts and theory, but do not root your mind in stone. Do not suffer from the “paralysis of over-analysis.” There is a time to think and a time to act. Oftentimes the former must be done more swiftly than the latter. What this means is that you have to observe things around you, but do not allow the observed “things” to draw your entire focus. You need (as is referred to in literary terms) the “Third-person limited omniscient” perspective…a person outside of all of the activity who is observing all that is taking place but not being a part of it. It is also referred to as a “God’s eye” perspective in the manner that the Creator sees all that transpires on the earth from an unaffected vantage point. Here is something you must commit to memory:
You must see how a situation or thing is, and how it can be by considering potential variables.
Get in the Mindset
You cannot make a sound decision unless you first consider the possibilities, and (as follows logically) without a good decision, the actions will be flawed. So what do we mean by seeing, then? Let’s provide some small examples to help you comprehend:
- An empty Gatorade bottle you see as a future water bottle. The reason? It’s a 32-ounce bottle, the perfect one-quart size for use with military issue water tablets (iodine tabs).
- You have a tent that was destroyed by a high wind and torn to shreds, but looking at the tent floor, you see the potential to cut it out and use it for a tarp.
- You see a used toothbrush as a gun-cleaning brush, a wire coat hanger as a shish kabob in the field, a sturdy cereal bag in an empty cereal box as a good bag to hold a small notebook and some personal effects.
Putting your mind in the situation in order to evaluate possible outcomes is paramount in developing a good prepper mindset. These are some starters to motivate you. Let’s go deeper, shall we? Scenario: You are E&E’ing (Escaping and Evading) through a strange neighborhood, and you see a spot that might be good to hole up for a while. The problem: there is a large, ferocious dog about 50 feet from the head of the trail to your hide site snarling and barking loudly, and other dogs nearby that follow suit. See: If you hole up in the hide and the dog is there, nearby to your hide, he will 1) dissuade others from following you or finding your hide site, and 2) alert you to anyone’s presence that is in the area. See: If beforehand you packed a small bag of dog biscuits and a little jerky? You can make a friend out of him so that you have a ready ally that (if not aiding you directly by command) will bite a pursuer before he bites you. See: If you make a good enough friend of him you might even be able to hide in the yard somewhere, with him there. [Oh, my gosh! That violates the English Codes of Property Laws and Rigid Thoughts! Someone else’s property!] See: You can use a silent dog whistle to signal him and each time he comes, give him a treat. This is called Pavlovian reflex psychology, originating with Ivan Pavlov’s experiments.
Assess the Potential and Not Discount the Possibilities
If everyone else is thinking in the same rigid, constructed manner, and they all have weapons and they all outnumber you, how are you going to win? How can you defeat their plans to take your supplies and do you harm if you don’t think outside of their constructs, outside of those rigid thought-patterns that limit them? How are you going to keep them from boxing you in if you follow their patterns? For further studies, you can reference these works that show the behavior patterns of people, and you can order them on Amazon.com, and they are as such: “The Third Chimpanzee,” by Jared Diamond (All about human anthropology) “Collapse” by Jared Diamond (How many civilizations of mankind have fallen) “True Believer” by Eric Hoffer (Mass movements….religious, cultural, and political…that lead to fanaticism) “Poets, priests, and politicians…have words to say for their positions…words that speak for your submission…and noone’s jamming up their transmission….” The Police As a child, you had a gift that society drums out of you as completely as humanly possible: the gift of your imagination. Look around you. Look at life. “Life,” right? Look at the lack of differences in architecture…big box store next to big box store. Smith’s Five and Dime goes bankrupt, and the exterior turns magically into a Burger King. The King loses his crown because of sagging sales and….ta dah! Another McDonalds is birthed. Look around you and look at what has been done….every town has the same stores, the same eateries, the same places to buy Chinese-made tools, clothes, notebooks and crayons for the kids’ new school year, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. And what is taught? All of the basic elements of functioning in a society that will eventually make you conform to acceptable thought and behavior patterns. For many decades critical thought has been “frowned upon” by the establishment. Children don’t learn critical thought and the ability to use the facts and apply them to something productive. People are meant only to keep the endless cycles of production, consumption, and taxation flowing. They are full of empty facts without application for the facts. Watch the movie “Good Will Hunting” for the prime example in Matt Damon’s character, a genius with no practical, personal experience with anything he knows. Jack London’s character in “To Build a Fire”: “He was quick in all of the things in life but not in their significances.” You must use your imagination in order to see. Movie: A 1950’s B-rated black and white flick about a giant Tarantula. At the beginning of the movie, the main characters arrive upon a “crime” scene. There is a horse’s skeleton on the side of the road…and then a human skeleton is found. A pool of whitish fluid with an acid smell to it is next to the skeletons. A large, fibrous cable-strand is running across the road. It takes the characters 45 minutes (and the actual appearance of the spider) to “deduce” that the culprit is a giant spider. Although the probability of a giant spider being your survival challenge is slim to none, you see the point: consider all of the variables, even if they seem as if they’re “out there” in others’ perspectives. Do not be limited by lack of desire to use your imagination. Do you notice how I did not say “lack of” imagination, but rather, lack of desire to use it? That is because you do have an imagination that you can tap into readily. To use it is good for your brain as an exercise. You need to practice to keep your mind quick and alert. You must make careful observations and then consider all of the possibilities in order to arrive on the best course of action. What if? That is one of the phrases for you. Scenario: You’re in a suburban area and all of the buildings in your immediate block have been partially or severely damaged or destroyed by the blast wave of a nuke. Russian troops are all over the place. A pouring rain has started, it’s October, and you have to take some shelter in one of these semi-ruined homes or buildings or you may die of exposure. You have three to choose from: a jewelry store, a barbershop, or a drugstore/convenience store. Which one do you choose? Jewelry store? Which one would they choose, the occupiers, if they want to make a little bit of a windfall to send back to Svetlana and the kids in Chelyabinsk? The drugstore? Gee, can anything be used by any foreign troops in a drugstore? I think your barbershop would be the best choice. At night you could acquire supplies from the drugstore when the coast is clear. And what is next to your barbershop? Is it so sturdy that it might even be used as a temporary headquarters for the foreign troops? You must “what if” the scenario all the way, even if it seems you’re going overboard. You must not only do what you would least expect to do: you must figure out and do what you believe they would least expect you to do. Try to predict enemy behavior, whether a foreign invader or a gang of Road Warrior-type marauders to your neighborhood. There are disciplines you can follow after that will enable you to make sound decisions with attackers, also available readily at Amazon.com either new or used: “The Art of War,” by Sun Tzu “The Book of Five Rings,” by Miyamoto Musashi You will have a field day with both works if you have never read them or heard of them. They hold time-honored, time-tested principles that work. The principles have worked for many hundreds of years…so there’s no need to “reinvent the wheel.” Just remember to use them as a framework of reference, but do not set your actions in stone. Remember: doctrines that you use can also be used by your enemy to predict your behavior; therefore, never be “trapped” by a doctrine. These works are tools to use in your situations. Do not be “boxed in” by them; tailor make them and use them to fit your situation. Think on your feet. You have to take chances at times, but the more you analyze all of the courses of action that are possible, the better your chances are going to be in the end. Try this: visit your local shopping mall and just people-watch. Look and see what they do and how they act. This will take time, but it is a good investment and a worthwhile practical exercise. Watch to see what things they follow after with their eyes, what they want, and how easily they are angered. You have to go to school, the “school of hard knocks” to learn the way people are, and that school is life and the experience that comes with it. You must connect with who you truly are and the way people are/human nature is. In this manner you will be practicing exercises that are the foundation for defensive tactics and survival. You will be conducting exercises in the mind, the true starting point for victory on the battlefield and in a survival situation. Take the time to look in the mirror and see…not just the person in the reflection, or who you think the person in the reflection is. Take the time to look in the mirror and see yourself for who you are, and make the necessary changes and improvements that will enable you to survive. Be sure to work day by day to improve yourself and those around you to give everyone a better chance when the SHTF. Have a good day! JJ Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.