From the November 1984 Survival Guide Magazine
I guess technically, I am violating some copyrights here, but this is a really great column that I stumbled across today and I hope the author and the defunct publishers forgive me. If they contact me and want me to remove this I will gladly do so.
Be Prepared: In Diversification of Knowledge Lies Strength For The Future - Jerry Younkins
Recently I reread Harold Peterson's magnificent book, The Last of the Mountain Men, (Donald's note - I'm not familiar with this book, but I want to get it ASAP) a biography of Sylvan Hart, who was a heroic figure if ever there was one. Hart, armed with his engineering degree and rugged individualism, carved a life out of the pristine wilderness that borders the River of No Return in Idaho's back country. His accomplishments in building a virtually self-sufficient homestead should be mandatory reading fro every survivalist. Hart built a picturesque house, mined his own ore from which he made his own tools, weapons and kitchen utensils, tanned skins fro his own clothes, and raised, shot or trapped his own food, all in the 20th Century. Not only did he do what many of us dream about, but he did it with wit and style.
In a similar vein, though at a more mundane level, I have a friend who is a tool and die maker/farmer who can repair anything with scrounged or second-hand materials. Another friend is a trouble shooter for a large rental outfit. Don't let anyone ever tell you that it is not a high art form to keep machines running. By now some of you will have guessed where this is leading.
We live in an age of specialization, but we are headed for the reign of the jack-of-all-trades. The survivalist, to face the future, must be a renaissance person, ceasing to rely on one trade or skill alone. This means seeking out new knowledge and skills while using existing ones so they do not atrophy. It's not easy, particularly while having to earn a living, but there is no such animal as a lazy survivalist.
The survival movement is no longer in its infancy, and by this time the serious proponents of survivalism know that there is more to this than owning camouflage fatigues, an assault rifle and storage foods. Material goods are no panacea for catastrophe. They are merely a buffer between the fall and the spring. Survival is predicated more precisely on the talents and the abilities for the individual, rather than what he may own. What is in the ind is every bit as important as what is in the hand.
It's time to hit the books, get the hands dirty, and time to budget every precious second. Can you do basic maintenance and repair on your vehicle, perform CPR, recognized edible plants, run 3 miles, purify poisoned water, use a firearm proficiently, build a shelter, sew, decontaminate yourself, raise a garden, make bread? This list could go on indefinitely, but for most of us our knowledge and skills are less than infinite.
Diversity is the point and in diversity is strength. It is not that we are totally independent or self-sufficient, for most of us desire the companionship and support of our friends and neighbors. No one ever has too much knowledge, and those who wish to take responsibility for their own future must prepare mentally as well as physically. They budget so they can store, and they study so they can function in an uncertain future.
Much of the free world seems to be drifting like a sleepwalker, and who can argue against this when the average American daily watches a hideous 7 1/2 hours of television, pablum for the brain? Survivalists are not along for the ride. Those of us who can repair machines, care for the sick and injured, show others how to grow and store food will be invaluable in future times.
So, I challenge you as I challenge myself to diversify your talents and knowledge. Your future is in your own hands. Diversify.
This was big stuff in 1984. Today we talk about such personal diversification as a given when it comes to preparedness. But how many of us actually do this? I know that there are many who build homesteads, learn new skills, and network with others. But there are still a whole lot who still look at guns and storage foods as all they need. I'm always trying to learn or do new things. Jack Spirko has started a new program called 13 in Thirteen to encourage folks to learn 13 new skills next year. I will definitely participate. I encourage you all to do so as well.
Jerry Younkins, the author of the above article, has written two books on knives. It looks like one is out of print, but the other is available at a good price from Amazon.