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.

7 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?

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