What is Self-Reliance?

Updated: Mar 29, 2021

Self-reliance is not a condition, it is a state of mind. It does not require wealth, it just requires an attitude and willingness to live below one's means. Until we live below our means, we can never have an excess of resources. An excess of resources is required to achieve self-reliance because self-reliance requires the creation of a personal and family stockpile. A stockpile of things that will sustain life and a stockpile of skills and tools that will provide for long-term survival regardless of external circumstance.

In his book When All Hell Breaks Loose, Cody Lundin presents what he calls the “Rule of Threes or Fours”. (I strongly recommend reading this book as you start the path to self-reliance.) The same concept is presented by Craig Caudill in his book Extreme Wilderness Survival. The rule simplifies priorities in a survival situation. But it should be the foundation for every effort at self-reliance. The priorities with the associated critical time to survival are:

  • Panic 3-4 seconds

  • Air and blood 3-4 minutes

  • Shelter; body temperature 3-4 hours

  • Water 3-4 days

  • Food 3-4 weeks

  • Companionship and community 3-4 months

Very few people think in these terms when they commence on a self-reliance path. Typically, there is a rush to by food storage, put it on a shelf somewhere and then go back to previous life priorities. But you will note that you can survive without food for a long time. Where I live, in winter, you will freeze to death long before you starve.

Knowledge and skills couple with appropriate tools does a lot of alleviate panic. Capability with first aid will alleviate issues with bleeding and respiration. A home or shelter within which you can maintain warmth provides shelter. Water storage with a way to provide access to a long-term supply of potable water provides for hydration needs. Food storage coupled with means to prepare and cook food protects from hunger and starvation. Being associated with your family and a small community of like-minded people provides companionship.

The common response to a perceived threat is to go out and spend money, buying things that you will not soon use and in some cases things that you don’t know how to use. Spending money is not a path to true self-reliance. For most of us, attaining self-reliance is a change in path. It may mean buying things that you do not have. But the first response is not to buy something.

It is my understanding that God created the world spiritually before He created it physically. This means before He started moving matter, He developed a complete plan which He would follow to completion. We need to follow that pattern in our efforts at self-reliance.

There is an old saying that “the more you know the less you need.” I have been obsessed lately with the thought that modern society does not know very much when it comes to sustaining life. We have outsourced most of our required support to someone else. To be self-reliant we have to start thinking and acting in a way that brings all of those critical functions back under our direct control.

The Self-Reliant Community is an attempt to address all facets of self-reliance. I will attempt to help us all understand just how much we have outsourced and just how susceptible we are as a result. Then we will try to identify what the critical needs are and how to fulfill those needs for an extended period.

The Self-Reliant Community is not an effort to help you survive a three-day emergency. Being self-reliant will result in you being calm in a simple three-day emergency. But beyond the short-term problem, being self-reliant means you can prosper when the external support systems are gone and not coming back; when no help is coming.

Self-reliance is an attitude not a collection of stuff. Self-reliance comes when you have confidence that you and your family can withstand the current or pending crisis successfully. Being self-reliant means you have taken appropriate actions to be prepared; prepared with knowledge, prepared with skills, and prepared with supplies and systems that will protect and sustain your family regardless of external circumstances.

This preparation is based on serious consideration of risks and development of plans and contingency plans. This preparation includes options that you have developed and put in place so when your first plan fails, you are not left in a panic.

This is the path. So don’t start spending money. Let’s spend some time thinking about the risks and then thinking through appropriate responses. Then identify skills and tools that you will need. Then adjust your life somewhat so that when you need those tools and skills, they will feel normal and natural.

Early blog entries will attempt to help you identify the risks to which you are exposed. They will probably either make you uncomfortable or will cause you to leave the group because you cannot get your mind around the risk level, that is, you think I am crazy.

Once we have some risks identified, we will start to work on actions we could take to mitigate those risks in our homes. Then we will start building personal skills and tools to protect our families from these risks.

This is the path to attaining self-reliance but the path starts when you decide to be self-reliant. I hope you are excited to pursue the path to true self-reliance in your family and your community.

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