Thursday, May 27, 2010

Prepping and History

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

- George Santayana

I don't know who George Santayana is or was, but he sure gets quoted often. The reason for that, of course is that George Santayana was right.

I think history is fascinating and have studied it much of my life but it wasn't until recently that I started thinking about the implications of history when it comes to prepping.

One thing I've been ruminating on is the fact that there is not one civilization that has managed to prosper throughout the entire scope of human history. The Sumerians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Egyptians, Romans? All Gone. Every other ancient or even more recent civilization or empire that you ever learned about in history class? Toast. Parts of the cultures may remain, but through wars (international or civil), famine, plague, natural disaster, social strife or whatnot, there is not one civilization that remains unscathed. You maybe could make a case for the Chinese, who have many years of history. Chairman Mao and the Communist Revolution created enough upheaval, however, that I think you can count them out as well.

Our own country is young. Our 200+ years of history still qualifies us as the new kid on the block. For the moment we are dominant, but how long will that last? I am not arrogant enough to assume that the fate that befell those who came before us will not happen to us.

Today I was flipping through the channels and stopped at a show called "The Plague" on the History Channel. It was about the bubonic plague that ravaged much of the known world during the 1300s. Not only did it kill off a huge number of people (I've read estimates of anywhere between 25-50% of the population of Europe died), but it also had a lingering effect on the people who lived through it. Tremendous social upheaval followed. Because of the scarcity of workers, many former upper crust people - nobles, clergy and the like - were forced to work their own fields. Predictable pitiful results followed. Some turned away from agriculture and instead decided to make their living by stealing from others, which was always a popular pastime in the Middle Ages.

Hundreds of years may have passed since The Plague, but our society remains vulnerable to a similar situation. Today we are so dependent on technology and removed from making our living off the land that if we had to start our civilization back over at zero, most of us would not make it. The average American simply does not have the skill set needed to survive. If we listen to the lesson of history, we'll recognize we need to change.

It's not a matter of IF it will happen. It's a matter of WHAT will happen WHEN.

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