Monday, July 12, 2010

Pondering the Apocalyptic Lifestyle

For anyone who has never been to an old-fashioned tent revival you have missed the best form of entertainment ever invented. Hands down, it beats any Broadway show, epic movie, or sporting event in both showmanship and energy. Only at a tent revival can you see a middle-aged preacher man dressed in a black suit do back flips like a teenage gymnast, old and very prudish women writhe on the floor and openly swoon at the preacher, and see hard-core grown men cry openly who at any other time see weeping as a weakness and less than masculine. Of course the main event at such outings is the sermon where the preacher will lay out coming events that usually consist of years of near apocalyptic disasters that culminate in the Rapture with Jesus taking his people from Earth.

For that, reason a certain amount Doomsday philosophy-that the human situation is hopeless-has always clung to such people even though the actual extent of that belief was very thin except in rare cases. Over the years though, other non-religious inspired end of the world scenarios have surfaced drawing their own devotees eagerly awaiting the chaos. Some expect a total global economic meltdown, pandemic, societal collapse, nuclear war, or the federal government going tyrannical to name a few.

While the actual numbers of such people digging shelters and gathering supplies and weapons are few their collective mood, aided by certain unnamed media people, does seep out to the greater public leading to a general idea that we are seeing the last days. My problem here is that to a certain extent I agree, powerful people do use their money and influence to the detriment of the general public, elected officials are little better than a group of five-dollar whores standing on a street corner, and the demands of a materialistic society threaten to wreck the planet. I freely admit that at times I find myself questioning the very basic nature of our society and government believing that nothing can be done to save a people mired in banal pursuits and a country hopelessly corrupted. Some do try to fight but any effort at reform is quickly shot down by entrenched elites looking to protect their positions at all costs.

I wonder though, when does this sense of impending disaster and hopelessness become a self-fulfilling prophecy edging us closer to the abyss? And at what point am I neglecting my family by not preparing for the worst?

More and more Americans preparing for social unrest

From the outside, Jerry Erwin's home in the northwestern US state of Oregon is a nondescript house with a manicured front lawn and little to differentiate it from those of his neighbors.

But tucked away out of sight in his backyard are the signs of his preparations for doomsday, a catastrophic societal collapse that Erwin, 45, now believes is likely within his lifetime.

"I've got, under an awning, stacks of firewood, rain catching in barrels, I've got a shed with barbed concertina wire, like the military uses," he told AFP.

He and his wife also have also stockpiled thousands of rounds of ammunition and enough food for about six months.

"Several years ago I worked on paying off the house, replacing all the windows, and just very recently, I'm proud to say, we've replaced all our exterior doors with more energy-efficient ones, with as much built-in security features as I could get," he told AFP.

"Plus I'm going to be adding some more structural improvements to the door frames to make it hopefully virtually impossible to take a battering ram to them."

Erwin and others like him in the United States and elsewhere see political upheaval and natural disasters as clear signs that civilization is doomed.

"We're hitting on all cylinders as far as symptoms that have led other great powers to decline or collapse: resource depletion, damage to the environment, climate change, those are the same things that affected other great societies," he said.

For Erwin, the decline is irreversible and the best approach is to prepare for the inevitable.

His pessimism is shared by a wide range of people, from left-wing environmentalists who believe climate change and capitalist greed will doom human society to Christian fundamentalists who think sin will do the same.

They label themselves "preppers," "doomers," and "survivalists," and take a variety of different approaches to the same question: How best to prepare for the coming apocalypse?

Jim Rawles, who Erwin describes as "the patron saint of survivalism," prefers an isolationist, Christian-influenced approach.

He homeschooled his children, declines to say where he lives, and advises readers of his website to "relocate to a safe area and live there year-round."

"When planning your retreat house, think: medieval castle," he adds, extolling the benefits of using sandbags to protect any new home.

Rawles, like many on the most conservative end of the survivalist spectrum, is also anti-tax, pro-gun rights, and suspicious of anything that smacks of socialism.

But the survivalist movement also includes left-wing community activists, who are devoted to living off the land and have never fired a weapon, and people like Chris Martenson, who quit a job with a six-figure salary that he felt was "an unnecessary diversion from the real tasks at hand."

He began growing his own food and developed a "Crash Course" that urges people to better prepare for societal instability. He also took over management of his investments and boasts of a 166 percent return on his portfolio.

For Martenson, the wake-up call was the September 11, 2001 attacks, when he felt gripped by uncertainty and totally unprepared.

Erwin had always felt that society would eventually disintegrate, but he and many other US survivalists say the dysfunctional response to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina was what spurred them to action.

"I thought, okay, things are not going to get better... maybe this society, our civilization, the American empire, will collapse during my lifetime," Erwin said.

For John Milandred, no single event pushed him to leave his suburban home and set up a farm in Oklahoma.

"We just got fed up of working all the time to pay bills and not accomplishing anything," he said.

A member of the American Preppers Network, Milandred said he and his wife aspired to "grow our own foods and be self sufficient... to live like the pioneers, like our great-grandparents."

It is unclear how many people subscribe to the lifestyle, but there are hundreds of websites devoted to the movement, and Erwin's attracts visitors from around the world.

The global financial crisis has increased interest in survivalism "bigtime," Erwin said, but he feels sorry for latecomers to the movement.

"We'll help them if we can," he said. "But a lot of people are climbing on board at the last minute and its going to be hard for them."


Tim said...

Hey Beach
I've heard of this stuff. I even talk to many on line about it. They are getting all ready for the end.
What I argue with them about is why would you want to survive. The world disseminated, People reverting to the animals they long tried to separate themselves from. Suffering and despair beyond imagination. Yet some people feel they are the special ones who should survive. Yeah special..

sunshine said...

I actually know someone who, because of the whole "2012" thing, sold their house in town and is moving out to the middle of absolutely nowhere.
The kicker is that he is wheelchair bound and needs someone to come in everyday and get him out of bed, washed etc.
He's got it into his head that he'll be safe out in the boonies.



sunshine said...

I thought that I was going to have to hit the Handicapped thing beside the word verification because it took me 7 times before I typed the characters in correctly... :P

lime said...

good questions. remember the y2k induced hysteria? i do think eventually we will be our own end but it does seem people need some impending disaster to hang their despair upon. that said, i don't think being prepared is a bad idea. ;)

Beach Bum said...

Tim: What I wonder about is how many of these people will it take before the already stressed bonds of civiization finally pop? If a country has so many people preparing for the end, just waiting for some event to light the match doesn't that bring it closer?

I ask these questions seriously because I myself see far too much suggesting many have given up. Now most of these people just fear the changing world, white people are no longer the total top dog on the American scene it scares many of them.

Whether I would want to live after some end of the world event it would depend on the nature and extent of how the world ended. You'll have to excuse me, this post was just a Hail Mary since I wanted to put something down and I do not believe I am framing my point acurately enough.

Sunshine: Well I feel their pain, I have expressed many times how much I would like to get out in the boonies but needing such extensive care does make their move a joke.

I have to get rid of the word verification, I only put it up to discourage spam.

Lime: I agree completely, people are just clinging to their dispair in many ways. I also agree with just being prepared, the pandemic thing alone is reason enough to be ready for bad times.

Rhiannon said...

You know what? I understand quite well what you are saying here in this post BB...and back in North Carolina, we were in a huge gymnasium filled with hundreds of religious 'zealots" writhing on the gym floor and also talking in tongues! My sisters and I had taken a trip to visit two of our aunts from my mothers side of family. They took us to this was Pat Robertson or Jim Baker and Tammy not quite remembering which ones! I tell you I got out of my chair and headed for the nearest exit as this went on..I already had to deal with enough "sicko" religion while growing up.

Regardless of who says "when and if" the "ending" is coming near absolutely none of us here on earth know...people can say whatever they think..doesn't make it try to enjoy the ride while you can BB.

Speaking of giving up and end of world "stuff" I still continue to go on with my "let's stop the wars" and "love and peace" post on my blog...I plan on dedicating all my post to it for a long while now. I look at it as a positive reinforcement that will give us a push in a more positive and "we can make the effort and do this and not give up" direction...either way I don't give up on day at a time one step at a time...we the people can make the difference..if we want to and I do "believe" that we your "let's stop the war" or "Love and Peace" bumper sticker for you car yet BB...I'm checking around which bumper sticker I want to get...soon!

Love and Peace for the world,
so there!!:p

Signed "tenacious Rhia"..:o)

Rhiannon said...

P.S. "Some say I'm a dreamer, but I know I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us and the world will become as "one"...just "imagine".

Liberality said...

I grew up in a fundamentalist church and in it there was a lot of preaching about the end of the world, that's for sure. And I think our culture is going out of its way to make that happen too. Fundies don't care about the future cuz they'll be in heaven laughing it up I guess ;~)

But since the white people have come here to this land the lifestyle has been unsustainable I believe. We act as if there will always be clean water, clean air, natural resources to use up, a place to throw our garbage and it just ain't so--eventually the free ride will end but it will be our children and grandchildren who will pay the price.

Middle Ditch said...

All sounds a bit of Noah's ark to me.

What those poor people don't realize is that their end will come sooner or later without the help of the environment etc. And Liberality said it all

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Beach Bum said...

Rhia: At the time I didn't care for the revivals but now that I think back on them they were fun. Got to see people do things that in the light of day they would never do. Plus they always had huge amounts of the best food after everything was over, its a southern tradition only equaled by the food they serve at funerals.

Liberality: I agree, lots of people are doing their best to bring about the end of the world. Not just religious types, a great many are simple losers unhappy that they are not famous of powerful and feel that if the great game board of life is knocked over they can wind up on top.

Middle Ditch: Rhia and Liberality both made great points but in a sense humans are incredibly self destructive in the best of times.

I have no real issue with being prepared for "the worst" and dear Lord I have said many times to the point of making people sick that I hate the American materialistic lifestyle my only issue is the degree to which many are eager for things to go bad.

Not helping things for me in the least is also the psychotic shit coming from the right-wing. I heard some real whoppers on Hardball tonight.

Leo: NO! Your comment made the mistake of being recognized by me as exactly like one that came from "another" person a few weeks past. Not only am I not going to list you I will more than likely drop the other person as well.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

My plans for armageddon are simple. I call it the "ativan and vodka in large quantities suicide" solution. I mean, clearly, I hate to sound like a wuss and all but a Kevin Costner ("Waterworld")/Mel Gibson ("Mad Max") manner of existence just doesn't cut it for me. I'd much prefer to become food for the worms......On a lighter note, did you hear the one about the priest and the rabbi.....

goatman said...

Problem I have is I am not sure I would want to live in a world consisting of primarily these types of "survivors".
Of course the alternative is not pretty either.
Perhaps a third alternative?

Randal Graves said...

All you need to survive the apocalypse is a hefty cache of shotgun shells, some green herbs and a typewriter ribbon.

Pixel Peeper said...'ll also need gold. Buy gold now!

See, I'm doomed already. I sold the bit of gold I had when it was really high and put it towards a big-screen TV. Doomed, doomed, doomed. No herbs, no guns, no seeds, and no canned goods.

Teresa said...'s time for another Vampire story!

Beach Bum said...

Will: The possibility of everything falling apart has absolutely no appeal to me; such events would disrupt my beach trips and disturb beer delivery. But I must admit that smaller scale disruptions could actually bring property values down to the point I could afford a really nice beach house.

Goatman: Thought of that third way, Dr. Lovelock, the guy who came up with the Gaia theory about the Earth stated something to the affect that human living on continents would more than likely screw everything up bringing the end of civilization. That it would be up to the people living on islands around the globe to rebuild. Sounds like a great excuse to find a South Seas tropical island, load up on beer and porno, and watch the bankers and capitalists stick their fingers back into the metaphorical electrical socket.

Randal: I would add to that list a car battery to run the blender, plenty of margarita mix, tequila, porno, and plenty of canned Spam. I love that stuff.

As for weapons, I have my eye on an M-4 assault rifle for small end-of-the-world events and an AA-12 automatic shotgun for big events like the coming Zombie uprising.

Pixel: The nice thing about Florida is all that sunshine which makes a reefer garden grow so fast. Yep, the only gold I have is a crayon of my daughter's.

Teresa: The good news is that I have started a second vampire story. The bad news is that with all the dad taxi I am doing in the mornings this summer it is just sitting on my computer. I will try to get it done as soon as possible, was bummed out and very rushed when I wrote this post and do feel the need to write some fiction.

TomCat said...

If only eschatology wasn't so damn eschatalogical. ;-)

I used to expect the best and prepare for the worst. I have realized that, given my age and health, I will not make it very long. So I do what I can to argue for a sane course of action, help the people I can, and if the end comes, it does.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

When I was still open for business as a small shop, sometimes at the end of the day I'd close and go over to the inlet to stare at the familiarity of it, the sea and the renewal I used to find making way out of the inlet for open sea... I went to remember the open sea and that healing I could find by myself on the water. Beach, don't think me a 'weirdo' or nuthin' but if there is an end to the world as we know it in this moment... I don't know if I'm against that. You know? If it means an end to John Boehner and all of his ilk, if it vanishes the likes corporate rulership over our social-ity and our natural instinct to care for each other... fuck 'em ... off with their heads! (says I.) Sooner or later we will have to peel away the layers of destruction or face extinction. This slow boat to china method triggers all the symptoms I've just read in your commentary. I think, as a woman who espouses a new conscious awareness, that it just might be time to hoist your colors and draw your steel. The end? Apocolypse? I've studied with Maya Elder Hunbatz Men... he's so tired of having to correct the illusion that the classic Maya predicted a mass destruction of the world that he hangs his head tearful.

I can't help but remember it took less than a 1000 people to usher in and create the Renaissance... and that would be where I usually stand. Still,
if you tell me that we might be able to 'wipe the slate clean' of all the corporate profiteers and gov corruptions.... hell; they'd build it up all over again... probably. But still... I'm wondering on a solitary Sunday, what there is to save except the humanity...? The center is not holding. ??? I suppose everyone can feel me here...?

Beach Bum said...

Tomcat: Truthfully, the little voices in my head are screaming for to bug out and find someplace away from the insanity. Like some time travel movie where a character has gone back and altered the flow of events creating a nightmare world that is how I feel about this era we live in. Greed and excess is thought of as virtues while charity and mercy are at best looked upon as something strange.

The only thing holding me to this stupid merry-go-round are my kids. They are tangled up in this society and I cannot leave them.

Gwen: I understand where you are coming from but the only problem right now is that essentially no one is listening. Whether by conscious effort the rich and powerful or the instinctive drive of herd animals the country that once had faith in the "better angels of our nature" has mutated into a strange creature that looks only after its own and to hell with anyone else.

Whats worse, is that Americans are dividing themselves even further into smaller groups totally fearful of those outside their little circle. It will not take much to push us over the edge and start killing each other like they did in Yugoslavia. America only exists now as an abstract concept with each group holding to its narrow viewpoint.

Can this change? I honestly do not know but I feel we had a chance in 2008 and while it would be easy to say Obama dropped the leadership ball, and he did in some ways, the real fault is with us who refused to get involved enough to fight off the entrenched forces who are threatened by change.

Rhiannon said...

I just read your last comment about how "we" must take a stand also..and get off our lazy butts and whine about things without taking any action...this is the major problem. But on the other end you have got the tea party "Steaming" mad and being angry racist wanting to live in the past terrified of a black man as our president and the majority of some of them having more money than most, but not wanting "their taxes" to go up but caring less about your average middle class of poor living in poverty having to pay taxes..its called "being selfish" and I see the tea part as the "me party"...

So, stupid rumor going around that Glenn Beck may go blind in a year or so..."maybe"...don't believe him could be a lie..but if it isn't after he does go blind, then maybe he will actually "see the light"...if you know what I mean..or either he might walk into the light and give us a break from the radical fringe...

Just being funny sometimes feels good to laugh at ourselves..and BB if you don't think anyone cares much, then who are all these people commenting on you blog?...????

Something to think about.

Love and Peace and stop the wars,


TomCat said...

That is as it should be, my friend.

Beach Bum said...

Rhia: Hopefully Beck will go deaf and dumb as well.

Tomcat: Amen.