Survivalist television has always been a double edge blade where entertainment meets some basic education. The mindset and philosophy promoted by various personalities can greatly influence how one perceives the outdoors and any survival situation. Men such as Bear Grylls promote a far more aggressive mentality that should never be recommended to anyone. Les Stroud on the other hand a more relaxed, situationally aware, and proactive mindset which flows with nature rather than against it. This is more the speed of the average individual.
Another television entertainment series began with Dual Survival. While some good men were on the show, the concept was to put together two opposed philosophies on the idea of survival. In the end the two individuals would be required to compromise on various decisions seeking the best outcome for the situation at hand. The most common differences between these men were dictated by their backgrounds such as military experience or training as compared to a traditional woodsman.
Let's face it. Survival is not sexy. In fact it is a situation that should have never happened to begin with. The personalities which we see today compete for popularity in a world where attention spans can last less than one minute. Their approach must become more extreme as the basics of how to light a fire only get you so far.
While it is known that some of these tv personalities are bogus in their approach to survival or wilderness knowledge, there are others who have been very qualified. The matter at hand is not whether or not who was bogus or genuine, but rather which mindset is more qualified for the task at hand? The unfortunate aspect of this genre is that it creates a cult following not only on philosophy and techniques but also products which translates into real dollars for who is more popular. There is the slippery slope where an approach or philosophy which would never be recommended becomes mainstream for the sake of popularity.
The two most promoted philosophies today are between that of the military and a traditional woodsman. While there are other perspectives to consider our culture has created a pendulum with people swinging back and forth between these two approaches. Which of the two are best? Let's begin by looking at where these philosophies come from.
The military mindset is great for many things. It can instill within an individual a drive to achieve and to never quit. Yet the military mindset is not great for everything which it is applied to. A good example of this is marriage. If you are married then you can get a quick laugh and understand how ordering your wife or husband around certainly has its limitations. The same can be true in their approach to how they teach survival.
Survival for the military is focused on one thing, getting their men out. On the surface this sounds exactly like what you would want. Yet built around that mindset is a support system filled with manpower, equipment, tools, and often a blank check to make it happen. They equip their men with the best money can buy. Once their men are out they also have on standby the medical staff to put the men back together again. With this mindset the philosophy which is indoctrinated into their men pushes the envelope and can become extreme.
The traditional woodsman is an altogether different organism. He would rather flow with nature than oppose it. A woodsman will weigh the consequences of his actions more seriously knowing that there may not be someone out there looking for him, nor anyone being there to help him. His resources being far more limited requires him to have a better understanding of his environment and the physical resources at hand. He has no guarantees other than his skills and experience. More importantly it is his philosophy behind the why and how of things which will keep him alive.
There is a purpose for each philosophy. For a combat situation one would not desire the slow and steady careful woodsman approach. Likewise a hiker that becomes lost in the Smokey Mountains has no need to be jumping from cliffs grabbing trees to break their fall. Becoming another Bear Grylls is not what will get you out alive. Nevertheless the two skill sets are tools. A hammer is used when a hammer is needed, not a saw.
More importantly you the reader must come to know yourself. What is your approach to the wilderness? You cannot be Bear Grylls nor Les Stroud. Likewise you are not on a far flung mission in a distant place within the world, nor the lone woodsman who will never see civilization again. Much of who you are within your daily life can give an indication as to who you would be in those emergency situations. Personality while a major factor is by far not the most deciding factor in your makeup. The philosophical approach you take to life will be the greatest indicator in how you decide your fate.
One who depends upon others would face the most difficult challenges. This dependency speaks to more than one would imagine. Your view on self defense, violence, weapons or what defines a weapon, gun control, and the right to take a life in order to preserve yours becomes imperative. These philosophies determine the mindset of what you are. I use the word what rather than who. In the wilderness who you are becomes what you are for it is you that must survive. There will be no police force there to protect your ideology.
Stripping back the layers, are you prepared to defend yourself and your family if need be? Beyond the most basic services of life few are prepared to live within the very world they exist within on a daily basis. If an individual is attacked on the street who wouldn't defend themselves? Yet this is not what I am asking. The question was, are you prepared to defend yourself? Being competent with some form of martial art would be a good start living within a civilized world. I prefer Wing Chun, but there are other flavors.
Preparation is a fundamental way of life. Your preparation will be determined by your philosophy, or the lack thereof. While our survivalist culture can hold many themes and colors it is imperative to realize that much of it is driven to get from you rather than give. At some point purchasing cool gear from high end backpacks to the best knife began to define preparation. You could become the best outfitted victim to ever step into the wild.
If we as a society are not prepared to protect ourselves on a daily basis within our city streets, why would the average person believe they are prepared to do so in the wilderness? The sad reality is we approach survival with an armchair mentality. Watching Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon does not qualify you in the practice of Kung Fu. In fact nothing within this world works this way. Do not allow the false sense of security that we are permitted to have within the city life of the modern world to be carried with you into the wilderness. It will get you killed.
Are you prepared?