Just some late night musing as I worry about my little black cat Mara.. my cats always come back at nightfall, and she isn't here. I go looking every 30 minutes.. it's like your own child didn't come home at night. I've had some... interesting times in my life, and things that have brought me to where I am now; shaped me into the man I am... there's ups and downs, and life is not a stroybook... but so what? We could all talk forever about the weirdness we have seen and done, and eventually it would end up sounding like a high school locker-room of people trying to outdo one another. While that's fun and sometimes has it's place; it's more an outgrowth OF these things which cause me to post this night. One of the things that has... always bothered me about survival situations and preparedness is that people speak about it as if it's something abstract; as if you're preparing for a "what if" and really are not sure how it would work out. I'm here to tell you that there are people who survive such situations every day. These people are the denizens of the deepest inner cities. Now, I will preface this by saying the skillset is, in many ways, extremely different: urban survival vs rural-ish survival. You can ask my wife (if she ever registers here) that there are plenty of things about rural survival I do not know. We tried to go camping recently... a hilarious tale which ends with us being sent back home because we had chosen to camp in badger country and what I thought was a bear might have been a simple black cow cut the edge and made us decide to leave... but I am digressing and rambling. Point is it took us almost 2 HOURS to get a campfire going because neither of us really knew what we were doing. She later asked me "I thought you were homeless for a few years.. why don;t you know how to start a fire?" and I answered her "Oh I do. Find one of the old style metal trash cans, fill it with whatever, and spark up a tiny bit of sterno near the bottom to get it all going." Point is, I'm not going to compare the base SKILLS of environment in which you survive at all. I'm here to talk about mindset. Firstly, I am not trying to insult with this, it is.. musing and discussion. The skills you will learn on a site like this are absolutely, undeniably valuable in an end of the world type situation, or even an "end of my employment". I am, however, going to say that you can prepare for that all you want, and some of may will still die anyway if the SHTF. The truth is that inner city territories, gang awareness, and a full understanding of the scope of human nature that it brings out ends up having more in common with true "survival" than the knowledge contained in a thousand well-researched prep books for one single thing that I hate to consider: Much of mankind gets scared easily, and therefore is more than willing to commit evil acts in order to alleviate that fear. I once said that "I love people, but I love MY people more"... this goes beyond that. The people who live in poor urban centers know an incredibly shocking level of violence and are prepared to commit it over respect and territorial defense and you know what? These folks have the survival mindset more than you could ever imagine. If society falls apart, these people will simply see it as a removal of what little constraints existed before, and they will take whatever they need. These people have truly spent their entire lives with firearms and violence. Many will put down a gangbanger and belittle their skills, but it is silly. Unless you have been a soldier, they are better than you at violence, and even many soldiers can't measure up. Sure, you take them to a range, and many could embarrass them in accuracy and speed drills, even making them look ridiculous in pistol courses. You can giggle about their holding pistols sideways (Protip: for what they want to do, that's actually a good idea!) but these people have spent their lives facing desperation and poverty almost since birth. When you want to get some target practice in you go to a range. when they want to get some target practice in... they go to a rival gang's known dealer corner and start a war. You wear camouflage and it helps you hunt deer, these people wear their colors and it helps mark their territory. They live a direct animal existence. they soldier into one another's territory and wage short wars over a block or a corner weekly. It doesn't sound like a lot, and it's nothing compared to what a wartime Marine goes through but you know what? It's a lot more than someone who fires 500 rounds a week at a range is doing. You train and train and train, and when it coems down to it you'll be a better shot.. but how can you be sure you'll pull the trigger and it won't ruin you? there are sick people out there, people to whom human life means nothing. These people will happily come up and take whatever they want from you because human life is cheap. And another anecdote.. my wife and I were discussing preparations, and I guess the city isn't all out of me because I heard these words coming out of my mouth, "Well, the people in the yellow trailer at the end told me they've got a year of food stockpiled and they are extremely proud of their pacifism and hate guns. We can easily take half of their supplies before we go." And I shortly after felt sick, because that's not something a sane person should say. It's sick to sentient creatures but.. look around you, look at nature. A few days back, a large-ish bird of prey grabbed onto the black cat that is now missing, and I thought she was gone. Turns out she was too heavy and fighting back.. the bird went down about 200 yards off, and shortly thereafter I found myself helping Mara drag that whatever it was home... it hit the ground and by golly, she tore it's throat out. At first I thought that bird was evil but.. then.. I began to wonder. The bird probably thought Mara was a mouse or something.. she's pretty small for a cat. Birds of Prey eat mice, it's what they do. Mice breed, mice eat a lot of protein, and mice have absolutely no defense against the birds beyond subterfuge. Are we really so separate from animals? I'm not going to get into good or evil right now but... while I felt abhorred at what I said, it was a natural, survival mindset. The living beings near me flat out TOLD me there was a copious resource necessary for survival, and made it clear to me they had not the slightest intent or capability to DEFEND that resource. I have mixed feelings on my thoughts.. and I'm thankful my reflex was to say "easily take half their supplies" rather than "Kill them and take what they have".. I'm glad I'm above your common animal by at least that much.. but you know what? That train of thought is the true core nature of survival. The ability to watch out for your own with extreme prejudice against anyone who would take what you have. My neighbors down the block have "prepared" admirably.. but they're not at all interested in what it takes to achieve "survival". It's conflicting, odd.. the primate/lizard brain versus our sentience. My cat, whom I love very much and think is so sweet... has a duality to her. She is kind and I imagine loves me, but she is also capable of great brutality, and, considering there's copious food available to her.. she does it merely to impress us, or just for practice. Mara, that sweet little cat who, frankly given the area is probably dead right now? She has what it really takes to survive, as well as a great capacity for (I imagine) love. Mara was prepared... and perhaps got a bit too confident. What about all of us? Are we REALLY prepared? There's skills I lack and must learn. That helps prepare... but what else is there to it? Can you shoot.. not at a target at a range, but at a living, breathing person? Do you find the merest thought of harming another to ensure your own survival abhorrent? Or worse.. are you overconfident? Do you carry around throwing knives or stun batons and honestly believe you're going to be absolutely fine against gun-wielding folks already prepared to commit violence? ...is it right to BE that "prepared" to commit violence? I know tonight I'll be in prayer, not just for my cat, but for something in relation to these questions.