You’re NOT Invincible: Long-Term Survival Only Works As a Community

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by Bryan Lynch

The author of Swiss Army Knife Camping And Outdoor Survival Guide, and Paracord Projects For Camping And Outdoor Survival.

Like most young people, when I was a younger man, I thought I was invincible and that I could take on the world. I didn’t think I needed anyone and that if the world ever turned upside down I would do just fine living by the lone wolf mentality.  As the case usually is, with age comes wisdom. I came to realize that trying to survive alone may work for a short time, but when it comes to long-term survival, your only true chance of survival is if you have a community.

You need something from someone.

Let me start by saying that I realize some individuals in the world truly live a hermit lifestyle, and surviving utterly alone without outside help is certainly possible.  

However, we sometimes think that we are better off or more capable than we are. Even for people that are living very sustainable lifestyles, it can be easy to think they are doing everything themselves.  

They may have their own water source, produce their own power, grow and raise all of their food, and even make their own clothes.  

But where do they get solar panels or replacement parts when something breaks? Where do they get a new water pump when it breaks? What do they do if they have an extremely bad crop year or need to buy feed for animals or one of their animals needs medical attention? Do they make their own sewing needles to produce clothes with? 

My point is that even a person living a very sustainable lifestyle will require some kind of assistance from someone at some point.  

Are you really alone?

When I use the word “community,” you probably think of a rather large group of people to depend upon, but that doesn’t always have to be the case.  

Take a small family of four people or even just one other person. Workloads will be divided among other members, and you may not realize just how much you depend on them until they are no longer around. 

Do you plan on sleeping?

In the prepper community, there is a lot of talk about survival communities after the SHTF.

In such dangerous scenarios, a security detail must be set up to protect both property and self. Doing this effectively 24/7 is extremely difficult, if not near impossible, unless, of course, you plan on never sleeping. And you do plan on sleeping, don’t you?

You’re not invincible. You need community.

I want you to take a moment and think about the times in your life when you were either extremely ill or injured. Now, think about how or if you could accomplish daily tasks while you were in that state?  

Do you honestly believe you can take care of minimal requirements such as acquiring water, food, wood for a fire, let alone everything else when you have a 103-degree fever, a broken leg, or some other prolonged illness? 

 I know there have been times in my life when my health was not so great, or I had an injury. Without the assistance of others, I would have been in a tough position, and this was during “normal” times. If the S had HTF, I don’t know what I would have done. 

 It’s great to have a strong work ethic and to do almost everything yourself, but it’s also okay to admit you’re not invincible, and you just might need help from time to time.  

Lone wolves living in cities? Is it possible?

Ironically, I have heard more from people in urban environments talking about living the lone wolf lifestyle and not needing others than I have from anyone else. I don’t think this needs a lot of explanation other than saying that if you live in a city, then you are surrounded by people, and a lot of resources are readily available. 

Rebuilding is a party of community.

After a large scale event, I tend to believe that most people do not want the world, or at least their world, to stay in a state of devastation. This means there is going to be a time of rebuilding. 

I like to think I’m a pretty handy guy and have some knowledge that would help during such a time. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have all the skills or answers required to make everything right again, and I would heavily depend on others that have more experience and expertise. 

An interesting way to think about this is to look at communities that are devastated by a natural disaster, such as a tornado. You don’t tend to hear about the members of that community shutting everyone out and rebuilding their little piece all by themselves. 

Instead, what usually happens is the complete opposite. Everyone comes together to help one another pick up trash and debris, cut up and move downed trees, patch up or completely rebuild entire homes and businesses, and everything else that needs to be done.

Interestingly, it’s not always just the members of one community working to restore their way of life but members from outside communities, even ones that are far away that will come to lend a helping hand. 

(Make sure you check our free QUICKSTART Guide on what to eat when the power goes out, to make sure you have what it takes to make it in the short-term disaster.)

The reality of the SHTF mentality (and the answer)

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say they are ready to shut and lock the doors to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. This is an option, and sometimes it may be the safest course of action, at least for awhile. 

At some point, we have to emerge, we have to rebuild, we have to live our lives, and more importantly, we have to live our lives with others. 

I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but one thing is clear to me as it pertains to our survival. If we are to survive as a species, as humans, then we cannot be so divided that we think we are willing to “take out” our neighbor for a can of tuna.  

We need to be united. We need to know our neighbors and love them and not on a superficial neighborhood picnic level where you are unsure of someone’s name and gossip moves around like flies hovering over the potato salad. 

 Get to really know the members of your community. Help them out, let them help you out, be a part of their lives, and most importantly, set up emergency contingencies so that you can survive as a community and not alone or isolated.  

Thanks for reading, and stay prepared. 

About Bryan Lynch

Bryan Lynch is the author of two books, Swiss Army Knife Camping And Outdoor Survival Guide, and Paracord Projects For Camping And Outdoor Survival. He has also written hundreds of articles about prepping, emergency preparedness, self-reliance, and gear reviews. Through his writing, his hope to help educate people and get them interested in these topics so that they are better prepared for an emergency.

Picture of Bryan Lynch

Bryan Lynch

About Bryan Lynch Bryan Lynch is the author of two books, Swiss Army Knife Camping And Outdoor Survival Guide, and Paracord Projects For Camping And Outdoor Survival. He has also written hundreds of articles about prepping, emergency preparedness, self-reliance, and gear reviews. Through his writing, his hope to help educate people and get them interested in these topics so that they are better prepared for an emergency.

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  • Bryan Lynch,
    Thank you for your article.

    I have commented in the past about the need of community in a SHTF or post-SHTF situation.
    I usually get comments back about how I have to shoot my neighbors and take all their stuff first, or they will do it to me. I always wonder if these people have met their neighbors, made an effort to get to know them, befriend them to the point where you and them are comfortable to talk about current events, have common POV, even to the point of discussing SHTF.
    I then will get OPSEC! OPSEC! OPSEC!
    At some point, if you want to survive SHTF, you are going to have to trust someone. Whole lot easier when you have someone who has your back. Or is willing to help you bring in hay for your livestock for winter with the expectation that you will trade them for their labor some of your livestock product (i.e. bacon!). Or fall, block, split and stack a winters worth of firewood (that is a heck of a chore).

    Those who insist they can go all lone wolf and do it alone. Good on ya. Please have a volley ball to talk to. After several months to a year or more, come around my community and see a woman, young girl (or even boy) and get a dumb idea, expect a CSAR team to come looking.

    Then there is Without Rule Of Law (WROL). Many hold on to this idea as if that is the given of what will happen. Neighbors shooting neighbors for a can of tuna.
    IMHO, dont let it degrade to that point. Be proactive. First, by getting to know or network with your neighbors here and now. Give them a helping hand, even if it is just an offer. People will remember that, for the most part.
    While I vacationed (deployed) in Afghanistan, we noted differing power dynamics. The more commonly know was a single leader of a family or tribe. Depending on which side of their allegiance to the US, pro-US were called Local Power Brokers. Those antagonistic towards the US, warlords.
    Regardless, that individual was responsible for the well being of the family (immediate and extended, 40 to over 100 individuals. Tribes could be even larger families or even a group of families, to the hundreds or even thousands members).
    Lesser known were council of elders where the leading member of a family or tribe had a seat at a council in a given geophysical area. They would make all the major decisions for their families or tribes.
    Either power group, they all had to make decision in the best interest of their family/tribe/community.
    The community of today, just might be the tribe of post-SHTF. Do you want to be a member? Or an outsider looking in?

    Asset or liability? I know more than a few people who look at senior citizens as liabilities. Nothing could be farther than the truth. Sure, they might be able to haul two 5 gallon buckets full of water, stack firewood. But more than a few (ClergyLady comes to mind) whom have forgot more about prepping then I will ever know. ClergyLady is one of those whom I would want in my tribe/community. There are more than a few regulars who post here in TOP that I would want in my tribe. I may not have met them in real space, but Matt in OK, ~Jim, In the Boonies TX, Whydah, Namelus, and more, I pretty sure I could sit down with them for a dinner, share a beverage of choice, and know that if push came to shove, they would have my back. I would have theirs.
    Same could be said about just anyone. When push comes to shove, that soft handed IT subburban might rise to the challenge and become a great asset. That overweight yahoo, with all the tacti-cool gear, tricked out rifle, cannot hit a thing unless it is the broad side of a barn and whines like a mule? He just might turn out to be a liability.

    Ally or enemy? Going back to the “Shoot your neighbors or they will shoot you!” argument, IMHO, do what you can to make your neighbors into allies and not enemies. Could be anything. Help them learn to garden. Raise small livestock. Medical. You get the idea. So when SHTF, they are more able to help themselves and not go all out leather clad MZB.
    To a degree, it becomes a symbiotic relationship. Some will abhor that idea, but as Bryan Lynch
    notes as I cannot be expected to do everything myself, “. . . your only true chance of survival is if you have a community.”

    • Right back at you! I appreciate the kind words. Community is key. I have been working on it where I live in my highly rural area. Community requires a lot of work and a lot of interpersonal relationships. That takes more than a superficial effort like saying “hi” or waving when you see them. You have to make the effort during the best of times so when the worse of times happen you have the common ground to have the hard conversations.
      On leadership…your actions will speak louder than your words. I loved being an infantry squad leader…my favorite job in the military! But…I absolutely know that style of leadership has a place and a time. It does not work with “normal” people as well as with 2 fireteams that have been training with each other for an extended period of time. Building a “bond” requires work and respect. You have to no choice, but to recognize everyone’s worth who is in you group. If you can’t build/develop/contribute to a group of like minded people life is a lot harder.
      You have to recognize strengths and weaknesses and be able to make that work. Fortunately age makes most of us more mellow. I was a handful in my Infantry years! Now I am more thoughtful (and a lot slower!)
      My faith and testimony also tell me I must be compassionate with my fellow man; which is hard for a lot of people to practice (including me) in the best of times. Yes basic human nature will rear its ugly head, but it is what it is.
      As much as I have prepared…as it was pointed out…something will come up that I am missing or not in my wheelhouse. Going to need some help.

    • I live in small town USA, and building a community has been trying. It seems nobody wants to put their trust out there. I just keep working on my gardening, bees, water treatment & capture, ect.

  • regarding “community”, was wondering just how you envision yours. for example in the last barter thread you mentioned hanging and gibbeting people over marketplace disputes. will there be any kind of legal system for resolving disputes, or just the hue-and-cry?

    • Ant7
      There will always be a system. Even in prison there’s a system. Gangs says they hate law enforcement and the system but have an enforcer, by laws, leadership etc.
      Most prepper fiction books act like some shoe salesman becomes the alpha but in real life the alpha is the alpha and betas will remain.
      Violence will be a part of it. It’s hard for some to grasp. Impossible for many to like. Doesn’t change the fact though.

      • Matt in OK,
        In this day and age, an alpha male is generally seen as “toxic masculinity.” Granted there are some muscle head, open mouth breathers who fit the stereotype to a T. They are just a$$hole$.
        However, my wife calls me a “proper alpha male.”
        I’d bet real money your wife calls you the same.
        Open a door for a lady. Help out the elderly when in need. Stand up for someone getting bullied. Help a stranger on the side of the road in bad weather.
        Then take charge of a situation, make command decisions for the best of the group, when needed.

        • Yes sir much more than tattoos and rubbing beard oil to being a man. Taking care of folks is important. Alpha doesn’t equate mean. It equates being mean when you have to but kindness, love and affection will always be the traits that draw.

        • “make command decisions for the best of the group”

          so “the system”, “the law”, will be you yourself, and those who back you. and others better step-to or it’s the hue-and-cry.

          and when someone opposes you outright? ’cause they will.

          most preppers/survivalists/2nd types, bordering on the semi-sociopath end of the social spectrum, think “community” means them and those that agree with them. they envision a society, a tribe, just like themselves, where there will be no disagreements with them. most are in for a shock, when grid law and enforcement go away and all the other “alphas” take charge and start making command decisions for the group.

          “Violence will be a part of it”

          yes, but not like before. before it was whoever was the strongest physically. but now everyone has a gun, and a frustrated gamma can kill an “alpha” from a hundred yards away with a twitch of his finger. they say an armed society is a polite society – will the new “alphas” be polite as they take charge and make command decisions for everyone? will they institute gun control to maintain their command authority?

          • We’ve been over this time and time again. You can either lead or follow or do your own thing elsewhere.
            What will you do Ant7?

            Alpha or beta ?

  • I can’t agree more.

    If it hadn’t been for neighbors who were willing to take the time to teach me the ins and outs of managing a country property, I would’ve had to move back in with my parents after my divorce. And now, almost a decade later, I’ve been able to pay them back. I was that soft handed suburbanite ten years ago. . . now my neighbors know that, while I suck at many things mechanical, I am good at most things involving growing food, raising animals, processing animals, preserving food, etc. I’m also willing and able to babysit. My neighbors and I have been able to work out some great arrangements over the years, swapping food and mechanical help and childcare. We really do need each other.

    Thanks for the positive article!

  • Knowing how decadent and retarded society as a whole have become, I feel endangered to have those people living with me in an emergency situation. Politics, power plays, quarreling, etc… makes for a hostile environment. If other people can take advantage of you in a community, they will. this scenario have even played out in the most unlikely places such as Buddhist temples where monks form cliques and play political games against each other. I think the fewer people you have around, the better you off you will be. Just think of this. If you stop doing favors for your friends, will they still be your friends? Seems friendship is a guise for being someone’s slave at their beck and call. Just as true friendship is a rarity and people’s main goal is to enrich themselves with your time and resources, this will be magnified in a survival scenario where desperation is the norm.

    • The beauty of life is you have the choice.
      Humanity has its good and bad sides. Not everyone is going to covet what you have. Unfortunately age is the great equalizer…I still “wrestle” 450 pound water barrels now, but in a few years?
      BTW…Loved the monks orange robes and flip flops. Didn’t know they smoked so much! Everybody always fed them too! Wonder if everyone will be as kind to them when life gets harder.

  • So what is a “community” going to do when there are 200 million Russian and Chinese troops flying around in KA-52s and MI-28N choppers hunting down Americans? They are going to die. that is the plan. The day of the next false flag using the nuke they stole in 2007 and blamed on Iran is the day America will be nuked and invaded by the whole SCO. This is the war of Armageddon and you can know it is now because of the chemtrails hiding the apprioaching Planet X for the past thirty years. Planet X caused the sinking of Atlantis and Noah’s flood. This time around it will end WW3 when it rips North America into thirds, erupts Yellowstone super volcano and kills 5/6 of the 200 million invaders but by then 90% of Americans will be dead. That is the reason for the toxic death shot “vaccines and the scamdemic. It is all planned by the evil criminal bastard governments and their evil alien masters. Execute the criminal bastard government this year or die before winter. That is Americans’ only choices!

    Also, watch the ridicule that will come from the criminal bastard government liars who make up 99% of all commenters on all website articles!

    • Y’all need to lay off the hippie cabbage, unplug from the ‘net and go outside for some fresh air. It only looks like Armageddon when you never stop looking at the hysteria. Stress will kill you before the commies, clot shot or chem trails ever will.

  • In 1958, Leonard Read in the libertarian community wrote what became a stirring classic article on the many skills and resources it takes to make even simple things like a pencil. Today that article is as relevant as ever as global supply lines get torn to shreds as the division of labor (that free markets make possible) gets increasingly shut down. His article was titled “I, Pencil” and is still available as a readable or downloadable 20-page PDF from FEE — the Foundation for Economic Education:

    The extreme opposite would be a world of “lone wolf” types with huge limitations on the kind of existence they could have — if they survive.


  • Super writing and great comments. I especially liked the comments by the renegade prophet. Awesome.

    I don’t know what will happen when the sheep hits the fan. I don’t know how individuals under duress with no well of experience to draw from will react, including some of my neighbors, who by casual observation, seem to be well prepared. But, I firmly believe, as Matt, Marine and Boonies point out in their comments, solid people will rise to the top like sweet cream and the community they reside in will be fortunate indeed to have them.

    My great grandfather hired,fed and trained his neighbors during the height of the depression. Guess he hired the right people, because after he did that, all the thieving stopped. He didn’t threaten people, he fed people. He was an immigrant Hungarian farmer with five sons, spoke little English, was surrounded by Old English families with more kin and guns and ended up leading his little community through those times.

    People, IMO, crave sound, decisive leaders. If the person you’re tied to is evil, so too will be your actions. Likewise some/same if the person you’re tied to is a good and decent person.

    • Odd, I must have accidentally erased my last sentence. Want to add:

      Likewise same/same if the person you’re tied to is a good and decent person, so to will be your actions.


  • I have read these stories before, and they need to be taken with a pinch of salt. I am not a Lonewolf nor am I Rambo but I get along by myself pretty damn well. In the society after collapse does live on the fringes beyond the last farm beyond the last Homestead will be somebody that lives in the woods or up in the mountains. That person is going to be a lot like me and we will come to town when it is necessary. The part about illness And accidents will be taken care of like they have been taken care of for thousands of years of human history, probably will not end well. This lifestyle usually attracts a mate somebody who has that same mindset, after the collapse it will be easy to find out the truth about each other there will be no hiding behind the electronic devices are ones we are using now.

  • We must live in an odd area. This local is very closed socially. It is extremely difficult to make casual “friend” type connections let alone those old fashioned friendship ones. The prevailing attitude is “If I don’t know you I don’t need to know you, I already have friends”. Sure people are nice but it all stays superficial and at arms length despite trying to reach out and make connections. Having common interests does not change the dynamic at all. It will be interesting to see if that changes if/when a societal breakdown happens.

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