|>>|| No. 1872
The Art of Staying Alive in the Atomic Age (Part 3)
The tactical preparations for survival after the debacle fall mainly into three groups. First is the overhaul of your own bodily assets, which includes everything from joining the YMCA, to get rid of that paunch and increase your wind and endurance, to such things as getting typhoid and cholera shots, having that appendix out, and keeping your teeth in the best shape possible. If you wear glasses, you will need several pairs against the day when there will be no opticians in practice. Second is the acquisition of various materials and tools which you will be unable to make or grow in a sudden, synthetic stone age- items such as a pickax or a burning glass, for example, will be wdrth considerably more than two college degrees or a diamond bracelet. Third is training in various fundamental pioneer skills, not only how to snare and cook rabbits, but such things as where and when to plant potatoes, how to tell edible fungi from deadly toadstools without trying them on Junior, and how to walk silently. All these things are necessary, but more important, much more important, is the acquiring of a survival point of view, the spiritual orientation which will enable you to face hardship, danger, cold, and hunger without losing your zest and courage and sense of humor. If you think it is going to be too hard to be worthwhile, if you can't face the prospect of coming back to the ruins of your cabin, burned down by drunken looters, other than with the quiet determination to build another, then don't bother to start. Move to a target area and wait for the end. It does not take any special courage or skill to accept the death that moves like lightning. You won't even have ttie long walk the steers have to make to get from the stockyard pens to the slaughter-house.
But if your ancestors still move in your bones, you will know that it is worthwhile, just as they did. "The cowards never started and the weaklings died on the way." That was the spirit that crossed the plains, and such was the spirit of every emigrant who left Europe. There is good blood in your veins, compadre!
It is not possible to tell exactly what to do to prepare yourself best to survive, even if this were a book instead of a short article, for the details must depend on the nature of the countryside you must rely on, your opportunities for planning and preparing, the numbers, ages and sex of your dependents if any, your present skills, talents, and physical condition, and whether or not you are at present dispersed from target areas or must plan for such dispersal. But the principles under which you can make your plans and the easiest means by which to determine them can be indicated.
Start out by borrowing your son's copy of the Boy Scout Manual. It is a practical book of the sort of lore you will need. If you can't borrow it because he is not a member of the Scouts, send him down at once and make him join up. Then make him study. Get him busy on those merit badges-woodcraft, cooking, archery, carpentry. Somebody is going to have to make that fire without matches, if that rabbit is ever to be cooked and eaten. See to it that he learns how, from experts. Then make him teach you.
Can you fell a tree? Can you trim a stone? Do you know where to dig a cesspool? Where and how to dig a well? Can you pull a tooth? Can you shoot a rifle accurately and economically? Can you spot tularemia (we are back to that ubiquitous rabbit again!) in cleaning a rabbit? Do you know the rudiments of farming? Given simple tools, could you build a log, or adobe, or rammed-earth, or native-stone cabin from materials at hand and have it be weather-tight, varmint-proof, and reasonably comfortable?
You can't learn all the basic manual trades in your spare time in a limited number of years but you can acquire a jackleg but adequate knowledge of the more important ones, in the time we have left.
But how much time have we?