A lot of talk floats around the blogosphere about preparation for the looming economic and (God forbid) political collapse. Most of that talk focuses on trading your worthless paper dollars for something of value, particularly gold and/or silver. A lot of it is geared toward resistance to tyranny in various forms. A lot of people are talking about going "off-grid." My wife and I started working ten years ago on the path to self-reliance.
I should be clear in my definition of self-reliance: nobody can be completely self-reliant, unless they're willing to live an extremely bare-bones existence. As much as I hate to sound like the Abominable Pantsuit, it does "take a village" to live any kind of life higher in quality than that of a caveman's existence. Some specialization is a good thing: I'm good at making wine, and my neighbor is a gifted mechanic... that's just begging for future barter.
The subject of this post is self-reliance. I don't have a lot of deep thoughts on the subject, but I've spent ten years working on it, and I want to share what we believe is the foundational principle of self-reliance: you cannot be self-reliant if you are a slave. This has many practical corollaries, and here are a few:
1. You cannot be self-reliant if you are a slave to debt.
First and foremost, you must focus as much as you can on getting out of debt. Do not, for one moment, believe that there is such a thing as "good" debt. That's a comforting lie that masters tell their slaves to keep them in voluntary slavery. The slaves themselves repeat the mantra to try to soothe their guilty conscience for willingly selling their liberty. It's very simple: there is no good debt; there is only debt, and debt is slavery. If you owe a man money, that man owns your time.
2. You cannot be self-reliant if you are a slave to a consumer mentality.
If you are addicted to buying new toys every chance you get, you need to break yourself of that mindset. Alaskans are particularly vulnerable in this regard: every year, we get a permanent fund dividend, and there's a huge spike in sales for 40-inch HD televisions, four wheelers, etc. If you're serious about self-reliance, that money should be invested wisely, not flushed down the toilet. As long as you slavishly worship at the altar of All Things Apple or Arctic Cat, you can forget self-reliance. Consumerism is designed to keep you enslaved to the system.
3. You cannot be self-reliant if you are lazy.
Sloth is one of the classical deadly sins for a reason: back in the good old days, sloth could quite literally be a deadly characteristic. If you didn't work, you might not eat. The same is true now for most of the world, but in America, we all live like spoiled princes and princesses. Men don't work hard; we sit behind a desk and twiddle our thumbs and get paid obscene amounts of money for it. Women don't work hard; they pop something in the microwave and "dinner" is ready to be eaten in front of the television in a few minutes. Self-reliance presupposes at least the willingness to try to overcome your laziness. You can't kill a moose and expect someone else to field dress it. You can't buy a cow and expect it to feed itself and milk itself. A garden won't plant itself, weed itself, and harvest itself.
4. You cannot be self-reliant if you are squeamish.
Self-reliance often involves icky, dirty jobs: gutting a moose, butchering a chicken, cleaning a fish, helping your goat give birth (VERY messy), spending hours on your knees in the dirt in a garden, cleaning a gun, changing the fluids in your vehicle, and so on. If you are unwilling to bite the bullet and get down and dirty, then you aren't willing to pay the price for self-reliance.
5. You cannot be self-reliant if you are taking ANY FORM of government welfare.
Incidentally, I include all forms of public education in this welfare category: the government steals John's hard-earned money and gives it to a chain of bureaucrats who then teach and/or indoctrinate Pete's children. This is pure and simple socialism, and it boggles my mind that so-called conservatives refuse to see this. In some states, this is (legally) unavoidable. However, in a few states, Alaska being at the forefront, homeschoolers enjoy the liberty of true freedom in school choice: if you take no government funds, you are free (legally protected, in fact) to school your children however you see fit, with no restrictions or requirements. This is the ONLY way to be self-reliant in the realm of schooling, by the way; any sucking from the government teat will inevitably result in restrictions of one sort or another... you always get the stick with the carrot. And even if you manage to avoid the stick, you're still spending someone else's money for school supplies for your child. If all the charter schools in Alaska closed their doors tomorrow, I wouldn't care at all. I'd keep educating my children the same way I have been all along, and with my own money, not yours.
6. You cannot be self-reliant if you are unwilling to constantly learn, and often be wrong.
You cannot be a slave to your pride if you want to become self-reliant. On the path to self-reliance, you're going to screw up. Sometimes it will be a big screwup. Get used to the idea now, and don't be an arrogant SOB that refuses to acknowledge his mistakes. If you won't acknowledge your mistake when you do screw the pooch, you are incapable of learning from that mistake. If you are incapable of learning, you do not have what it takes to be self-reliant, because you'll constantly be screwing things up and blaming someone or something else.
7. You cannot be self-reliant if you watch television.
Even if you can manage to avoid the absolute filth that spews from that demonic device, and even if you choose to not to watch any political talk shows, virtually everything on television is loaded with propaganda now, of one sort or another. Every show, it seems, has to make some point, about "gun violence" or "racism" or "tolerance" or any of a dozen other mindless topics. And even if you actively watch for those, the underlying immorality of virtually everything on television is overwhelming.
The television is the tool the Powers That Be use to keep the majority of the mindless drones begging for Republicrats to shred more and more of the Constitution. It's the only reason a third party hasn't completely taken over. The television-watching drones always settle for the candidate that "has a chance" of winning... and how do they come to this conclusion? The television told them so! The television told them that Juan McAmnesty was the one that "had a chance" of winning against BHO. The television told them that BHO was a better choice than Hilary. As an aside, I actually felt sorry for Hildebeast during the campaign... she was really treated unfairly by the racists in the media.
Look, trying to find something "good" on television is like diving into a swimming pool of raw sewage, hoping to find a Skittle. For once, the hippies are right: kill your television. As long as it is a part of your life, it will try to enslave you.
8. You cannot be self-reliant if you're a slave to your passions.
Alcoholics, chain smokers, drug users need not apply. Those are just examples of some of the things compulsive people allow themselves to be enslaved to. [Note to self: never end a sentence with a preposition... unless rewording it makes it sound even more retarded.] Do some serious self-examination. If there's anything that you "just can't do without" whether it's chocolate ice cream, pornography, Monday night football, or a fifth of Jack a day, you must eliminate that thing from your life. Period. That assumes you want to free yourself, of course. If you can't go for a couple days without a cigarette, you're a slave. If you can't go for a week without sex, you're a slave. If you can't go for a month without a drink, you're a slave. None of these things are, in and of themselves, bad. Heck, I smoke a pipe, share a whiskey with my buddies every chance I get, and I've got six kids as proof of my manliness and virility. The question is whether you can, cold turkey, cut off these things. This kind of flexibility is a necessity for self-reliance. What if you couldn't buy tobacco any more? What if you had to hide out in the hills without your wife for six months? If you can't master your urges, then you will be enslaved by them... those are your only two options.
9. You cannot be self-reliant without God.
My point is that investing in a relationship with God is for your benefit, not His. God is the only Master that will not only allow you, but will enable you to be self-reliant.