Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wants and Needs

In true survival situations, as well as in life, it is very difficult for anyone to completely separate themselves from their “wants”.  From years of habit, conditioning and self indulgence, we have come to think of our ‘wants” as our “needs” and now-a-days, we all have a lot of self perceived “needs”.  If we find ourselves in a situation or circumstance where we are denied these “wants”, our lives can completely unravel or at least, become very uncomfortable to the point that we are thrust into a survival mode.

What are our actual wants and what are our actual needs? Let’s kick this around being as pragmatic and reasonable as possible. Our actual “needs” have not changed since man first walked the Earth. Not in the least.  Two million years ago our “needs” were the same as they are today. To survive, man, and all animals, has three basic requirements. Please keep in mind that I am talking individuals and short term.  Not propagating the species, reproduction and not long term survival of the species. Just the most basic needs someone surviving in the wilds would need. Those three requirements or “needs” are:  shelter, water and food. That’s it. That’s the way it has always been. That is the way it will always be.

That order, shelter, water, then food, is not carved in stone. There are a lot of factors that can effect and switch that order of importance.  If the weather and surrounding ambient temperatures happens to be perfect, then shelter is, for the time being, of lesser importance.  If there is an abundance of clean, pure drinking water, but it’s snowing and cold as a ditch digger’s belt buckle, then obviously, that order has changed.  Regardless of the order, those three specific needs have to be considered and complied with fully, or we die. A lack of one, or more likely a combination, of those three basics will result in death.

What is a shelter?  The answer is anything that will maintain our core body temperatures at 98.6 degrees F. That’s it. Whatever satisfies that very basic and simple requirement?  End of discussion.  What is water? What is food? Of course we all know those answers and I do not intend to enter into that long, never ending discussion on calorie in-take, daily water consumptions, proteins verses carbohydrates etc. Those issues have been beaten to a frazzle and for the most part, never fully address, and sometimes cloud or ignore the basic and core issues.

So what about our wants?  All those things we confuse with, actually consider as needs.   I want a hot meal and a cold beer.  I want a soft bed and my TV.  I want to be surrounded by four strong walls, with family photos hanging on them. I want a fridge filled with food. I want to push a button and get ice. I want, and I now expect, a hell of a lot of things.

What do I actually need?   Very little. Just those three simple aforementioned things. Are those things easily obtainable?  Maybe, maybe not. It may well depend on your training, knowledge and ability to cope.

If your training,  basic skills and knowledge is limited to “modern”  techniques, materials and tools – plastic for shelters, chemicals for water treatment and fire steels to make a fire, as examples,  then you’d better hope that those things are at hand, and maybe even in abundance or else you are going to find yourself  “out in the cold” (pun intended).

If the only way you know how to start a fire is with a cigarette lighter, matches or a fire steel – modern implements - there is only a slim chance you’ll be able to build a fire using a friction method.  If you have never considered or practiced filtering and/or purifying water using only natural materials and methods and you find yourself without fire or chemicals, how are you going to do that? 

How about natural shelters?  Think you can just throw one of those together?  One that can maintain that core body temperature  around 98 degrees?  Not very likely folks.  Especially if you cannot make a fire.

So the point here is simple.  If your training and skills are limited to basic,  modern survival methods than it would be a smart thing to make sure you are never caught  in a true survival situation without modern tools and materials.  If the only thing you have ever made an emergency shelter from is a piece of plastic, you might want to make sure you carry that. If you have only started a fire using fire steel and a cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly,  you’d best have one in your pocket if and when you need a fire.

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. To be truly prepared for any survival situation you need to learn and become proficient in primitive skills.   Those skills that our ancestors used daily for  thousands of years. The only skills that can get you through any and all real survival situations.