Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life - Neil Strauss (2009)
Part IV. SURVIVE
What do you need?
It’s great to have Louis Vuitton Cherry Blossom Papillon Murakami purses and Vacheron Constantin Patrimony watches and THX-certified mega-multiplexes with twelve different blockbusters to choose from. After all, most Americans, if given the choice between having the right to vote or the right to see whatever movies they want, would choose the latter.
I probably would. There are a lot of really good movies out there, and not a lot of really good political candidates.
But these are just wants. Happiness, friendship, education, entertainment, success, family, respect, freedom of speech—those are wants too.
Our needs are actually very few. Here is all we need:
1. Safety and health: In short, the confidence of knowing we’ll wake up each day in satisfactory working order, without a knife held to our throat or a hurricane tearing our roof off or a disease attacking our body.
2. Shelter and warmth: According to the rule of threes, though we can live without water for roughly three days and without food for some three weeks, it can take just three hours to die of exposure.
3. Food and water: No explanation necessary.
That’s it. Call it the triangle of life. When it comes down to it, every one of us would sacrifice our freedom to fulfill any one of these three needs if they were lacking. And all the aspirations people have—to become rich or famous or simply better than their neighbor—would instead be focused on obtaining a glass of water, a warm place to sleep, or an antibiotic to fight an infection.
There’s a ceiling over our heads that we’re all striving to reach. And right now, despite the political and economic problems in the country, that ceiling is very high and almost anything is possible. That’s why people like Tomas immigrate to America.
Survivalism is preparing for the day when that ceiling is lowered, almost to the floor, and success is simply a matter of not dying. And just because I was learning to ride a motorcycle and fly a plane, just because I was stockpiling supplies and preparing an escape route, just because I knew how to crib and triage, didn’t mean I’d truly know how to survive WTSHTF.
So I looked to the people who were the experts at throwing shit in the fan: the military.