Off-grid life and other Myths of Independence and Self-sufficiency

I’ve noticed a fierce spirit of independence in people who call themselves preppers or patriots. Their definition of being prepared or independent seems to include the idea of living out on the open prairie in a house built of sod , eating food that was killed in traps and skinned and cooked over a fire with your own bare hands and scratching out a garden from the hard soil while fighting off enemies with an arsenal of guns using handmade bullets .

I’m sorry to inform you, but that was just a movie you saw on TNT, not your real life . You live in a suburb or small town or maybe even on a farm , but you buy your supplies and animal feed and fuel and electricity and other necessities just like the rest of us, from someone else who bought them from someone who made them in a factory from resources they purchased from someone else . The supply chain is long and complicated. There is no such thing as living completely off the grid , unless you’re living in a cave eating berries and foraging and drinking water from a creek. If so , I doubt you have internet, so you’re not reading this.

I don’t mean to insult anyone. The “idea” of living off-grid is very romantic and adventurous! If you watch YouTube then you know that there are many popular channels which claim to show how to accomplish this goal . I enjoy them, too, but I laugh that they think making videos of themselves cooking food and building things and posting them online is actually living off the grid. True, some are not using electricity to power their devices , but is that the full meaning of being off the grid?Truly being off the grid ,in my humble opinion ,would mean that you have no internet access , don’t make money off YouTube , and certainly do not have the fancy store bought items that these youtubers have. To me being off the grid means being self-sufficient. And some of them do produce some of their own food, which is a great idea. Because isn’t the idea to not be buying “stuff” so you’re truly independent? Or is that just part of the secret , that it’s all just play-acting? It’s similar to the difference between actual outlaw bikers versus weekend warriors on brand new Harleys going for a ride then going back to their $400,000 suburban homes. Those weekend warriors would not be willing to commit the crimes and live the harsh and immoral lifestyles that actual outlaws of the past and present live daily, and they shouldn’t .

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wishing you could live like the original settlers , off-grid and dependent on no one. It’s just that it’s not practical and when you really know how most of those people suffered and died young when they went to settle the frontier , you probably wouldn’t want to live that way. Even those people found ways to buy things from traders. We modern people are definitely accustomed to certain modern conveniences such as hot water, flush toilets, heat and air conditioning, electric stoves, lights, and coffee makers. And the stores full of stuff. All you have to do is go camping for a few days to find out which things you miss the most! Is it your memory foam bed? Your leather electric recliner? Your laptop ? Or just being inside free from the weather and insects? We take so much for granted that we don’t realize until it’s gone . Go visit a poverty stricken part of town where people have no central air conditioning and literally can die from the heat , and you’ll be thankful for yours. Travel to India or many other poor countries where begging is a career and eating out of the dump is their grocery store and you’ll be humbled . We are so blessed and yet we yearn for a simpler life . Why is that ? I’ve noticed that the ones espousing minimalism are often quite well off financially. Many of us live minimally by necessity! Have we made being self sufficient our idol ? Are we forgetting that God is in control ? In our desire to prepare for disaster have we forgotten that two are better than one ? People who stick together in troubled times will be stronger ! Seeking to escape from the whole world and save yourself from the threats of world hunger and war is actually putting yourself into a more helpless position. Only by working together and sharing our knowledge and skills with other people will we be able to survive if things get bad. Do not build a fortress with your prepper food and hide away and refuse to open the door to your neighbor. We will be stronger if we band together , especially if the actual power grid goes down. No one person can provide everything for themselves indefinitely. Even Grizzly Adams had a business .

Let’s not confuse myths with reality as we try to prepare for the future. Now is a good time to build networks of like-minded , friends and lists of resources so we can help each other survive whatever happens , not be dependent on buying buckets of survival food or hunting for food. When we live in community with others, we who have can provide each other the things we lack . Yes, plant a garden and learn how to shoot and even forage. Learn how to fix things, cook healthy meals with basic ingredients, use herbs as medicine, and teach your kids practical skills, that’s always a good idea. But let us pray that we do not ever have to depend solely on ourselves like in the wild Wild West. Selfishness has no place in the Christian life, even in bad times. We are the body of Christ and we must love our brother as we love ourselves.

11 comments

  1. I don’t know. I think people who seek out extreme solitude want the same exact thing as people who want to be surrounded by “like-minded people.” An absence of conflict and the experience of self-validation. The illusion of peace that comes from managing your environment rather than your heart.

  2. “Do not build a fortress with your prepper food and hide away and refuse to open the door to your neighbor.” This is precisely why I am not stocking up on survival food. I may have 72 days’ worth of food, but if any of my neighbors, friends, or even strangers around me are starving, it’ll be gone in minutes. Better to spend whatever time I have sharing the gospel, cause, well, you know, we’re going to die eventually anyway, and then what?

  3. Contrary to what anyone thinks, experienced preppers and survivalists don’t need to panic buy. They would already have sufficient stores to get them through the initial panic and beyond.

    The problem is media sensationalism, government incompetence, those who people look up to including the Church, and their joint failure to encourage people to keep basic supplies for incidents.

    What makes people panic is the suddenness of an event without even the most basic of CBRN or terrorist awareness training.

    Which is another failure of government and people we all look up to, and mainly because of political correctness and business considerations, and some misdirected notion that keeping people in the dark is the best way.

    As for those who panic buy?
    It’s too easy to blame them for what they do BUT they are only reacting to a mess not of their making in the only way they know how.

    • Thank you for adding a more experienced voice to the conversation. I was probably generalizing way too much and speaking more about the ‘influencers’ than the people who actually are off the grid and very well prepared. Do you think that is something that the masses could or would be able to do or would even try to do, as opposed to waiting until the last minute and buying up all the toilet paper? Would you say that we are basically sitting ducks if we lose the power grid? Btw, I wrote a blog about not blaming the hoarders back when Covid started.

      • You are welcome, and if I may.

        The modern world has become to dependent on someone else to sort out their problems. To that end they usually look to the government and their agents (typically law enforcement), to look after them. In most cases that is sufficient BUT just occasionally when you dial 911, nobody comes and that’s the time a bit of preparedness comes into it’s own

        The Church of LDS is a preparedness Church and their library has useful (if IMHO way OTT) lists of essentials. Yet that only covers supplies.

        Within some communities there are many with undisclosed skill sets that could be persuaded to share. Veterans regarding tactical issues, the retired from industry, farmers, and medical professionals. Even down to the national guard and a ‘less political minded’ militia. Not forgetting law enforcement. fire department, and the list goes on.

        Chances are you also have a dedicated prepper or two and don’t know it. Or someone who lives off grid. Even down to the boy scout movement. All have skill sets which could be shared and advantage you. No matter how “young” you may be.

        You asked about the power grid.
        Look to your media about the outages in Texas. What happened there?
        About floods, droughts look to the media about what happens, same for riots, and (dare I say) elections. As for the pandemic? I’m betting the coverage is extensive.

        Which solves little BUT to keep informed about what could happen to you and the dangers within your area will allow you to ask the right questions to them who should know what to do.

        There are books, there is the Internet, but I happily learned my skills from others and life.

        Anyway, I have sidestepped a direct question about the power grid. Electricity drives everything. Lose it and water may not pump or be purified. Sewage may go untreated or back up, communications will fail over time, and in summer you bake as the fans and AC fails, in winter within a larger township or city, the furnaces will quit as they need electricity. I could go on but you’ve probably got the idea. Want fuel (gas), most of it is pumped electrically. Lose power and eventually you’ll lose the systems you rely on.

        As for being sitting ducks?
        That is the preserve of those who WON’T do a thing for themselves.

        You already know what wouldn’t work so you could just work out alternatives and bypasses around your problems.

        And finally.
        I haven’t explored your blog yet just happened upon it. After all there are so many, and for some, little time free to browse. However I note your post.

        Take care, prepping is not hard, off grid living is an acquired skill, and survival knowledge needs learning and constant practice.

        BUT one thing I learned over the years served me well. If you don’t know, never be afraid to ASK!

        Because the only stupid question is the one you hadn’t the nerve to ask which, when answered, could have saved your or someone else’s life.

        Paul Gray.

      • Thank you kindly.

        I had replied but WP crashed as I pressed reply so I have no idea if my reply went.

        The masses.
        Yes, and just a few basics of preparedness taught in the schools would go a long way to helping people.

        The other thing is to keep informed.
        Not just to your state boundaries but outward and including world affairs.

        Media is a funny thing. It usually tells a sanitized tale, little like the whole truth, or include the background story. Thus you need to browse far and wide to find out what is actually developing into a danger that could affect you.

        There is also the problem of the government not keeping the people informed about current threats or dangers.

        The problem then is everything that happens is a surprise and, without any form of forewarning or knowledge on what to do, the average John/Jane goes into panic mode.

        You asked about the masses.
        The masses in the main aren’t interested in looking after themselves when bad things happen. Instead they rely on government and their agents (the emergency services) to sort things out.

        However that shouldn’t stop the prudent and sensible thinking about what could fail, how that would affect them, and ways around the problem. The priorities being Shelter, climate control, good air, clean water, sanitation, food, and medical.

        You asked about the power-grid.
        OK, Texas.
        The power went off and what happened? Chaos.

        Today most of the civilized world is dependent on technology. Communications, money, the food chain, fuels (gas), clean water, healthcare and sanitation, to name a few. In the main electricity powers all of it.

        Now turn that off and wonder how people in summer will remain cool, and in winter warm. Just two little things that can kill.

        Many people have asked me how I got into prepping and survival and where I went to learn things. The answer to a degree was books but mainly from others, the armed forces, an ‘interesting mix of people”, and life experience. Thus I’m no ex-spurt on anything and have only one claim to fame. I know a little bit about a lot.

        So here I’ll end.
        Wishing you well, keep safe, get vaccinated, and look after yourself.

        Paul Gray.

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