> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Secrecy & Survival



Secrecy & Survival

Survival is not all about being the hero, driving around in an unstoppable 4x4, and packing the biggest, baddest weaponry possible. It's easy fantasize about fighting off mobs, holed up in our fortress retreat, bodies of our attackers piled high in front of our firing position. Guns, well stocked retreats, and big 4x4s are fun, comforting, and have a certain "wow" factor. It's comforting to know that you have the ability to fend off attackers, drive through hell, and last 5 years on your MRE supplies...but, that knowledge is best kept to yourself.

Sun Tzu's The Art of War explains it well. In essence, Sun Tzu teaches that where strong, it can be best to appear weak, and where weak, then it can be best to appear strong. Your enemies under estimate you where you are well prepared, and over estimate you where you are weak.

This style of survival is sometimes referred to as the "Grey Man" approach to survival. You don't want to stand out as a strong, well-armed, well prepared survivor, but another struggling, half-starved wretch. Or a non-existent ghost, a neighbor who used to live in the house down the street, but disappeared after the trouble started. Instead of making yourself a target, you fade into the back ground, ignored as just another of the crowd.

You appear weak and helpless where you are strong. At the same time, because you are a strong, well-armed, well-prepared survivor, you are prepared to handle becoming a target. You're prepared to fight, if it comes to that, but you know that it's smartest to avoid a battle, if possible.

How does this translate into planning and preparation? First off, don't become known as the "survivalist guy". Trying to pass yourself off as just another unfortunately soul is not going to work if all of your neighbors know you've got years worth of food and a truck load of ammo stored in your basement.

Keep a low profile with your preps, and keep a tight lid on it. You're not preparing for the end of the world, you're an avid camper/hiker/hunter/off-roader. Keep your preps hidden, keep them secret, keep them safe. Don't give your guests a tour of your gun room, or your food storage, or your re-loading set-up. Don't keep a giant, bug out ready Deuce and a Half/Unimog/Pinzgauer parked in your driveway. Keep quiet, and resist the temptation to show off your preps. Make sure your family is on the same page...make sure that the info is kept on a need-to-know basis.

In a disaster, it may become even more important to keep your preps low profile and unknown. You don't want to stand out amongst your neighbors, you don't want to be the guy on the block who's eating steak and watching DVDs while your neighbors starve. You want to be the same as everyone else. As far as the rest of the world knows, you're poor and starving like everyone else…barely eeking out an existence, barely surviving. You've got nothing of value anyone would want...

This approach may be especially valuable if forced to bug out. Bugging out in the middle of a disaster is always a last resort, as it makes you vulnerable and open to all kinds of troubles--even more reason to go unnoticed. I think it would pay off to look like just another refugee, poorly prepared and ill-equipped. Less threat of robbery or entanglements with authorities...just another, hungry, tired wanderer, trying to find a .gov shelter, not the unstoppable, armed to the teeth survivor heading to your well stocked bug out land. Travel by night, sleep during the day and avoid contact with anyone.

There are more than a few problems with the secretive, "Grey Man" approach. Guilt is one of them. If you're not isolated and interact with your neighbors on a regular basis, I can imagine a feeling more than a little bit of guilt as your kids eat full meals and the friendly neighbor kids waste away. As you're kept warm and the old lady across the street freezes. Many in the preparedness community are from Christian backgrounds, and needless to say, selfishly hoarding supplies while others suffer around you is not the Christian thing to do. You can help your neighbors, of course, but if you're able to donate food and supplies, the questions will come, and your secrecy may be lost. In some cases, this could be find, but in others, you could find a mob on your doorstep in no time.

You isolate yourself from the community, through your own secrecy. You have to pay for and live with the complications of more low-profile preps, whether that means a hidden bunker complex or finding a place to hide another 5 gallon bucket of rice. Keeping a low-profile means dealing with extra hassles and taking extra precautions, further complicating matters.

Also, what if you're found out? Your secret stash of preps is uncovered by a nosey neighbor, or a child who says too much. If neighbors/the community find out you've been eating, secretly, while they've been starving, you've been warm while they've been freezing, then you could face some real problems. Anger--outrage--that you've been hoarding food, clean water, and supplies while others have been suffering could bring an angry mob down on you as fast as a giant neon sign that says "Doing well while you rot in Hell!"
Secrecy is just another important tactic in the survivor's arsenal. It has its uses, and it has its weaknesses. Evaluate your plans, come up with strategies for different situations, and prepare...like always.