Survival and the Starfish Principle

“Sam,” I said, “the other day you’ve reminded Duane of the good things he’s doing to insure survival for himself and his family, but isn’t that encouraging him to be self centered? I mean, what about addressing some of the bigger issues that are causing the problems we face?”

“First, let me make one thing clear,” Survival Sam said. “Looking after your best interests isn’t the same as selfishness. You’ve no doubt heard the old expression that says ‘Charity begins at home.’ In the King James Bible charity means love. You can’t reach out to others in a meaningful way unless you’ve cultivated love at home first.”

“That makes sense,” Duane said.

Sam picked up where he left off. “You can’t share from abundance of any kind—material or otherwise—unless you have some sort of reservoir to draw from. I believe the survival mentality means you build good reservoirs at home and in your own life first. If others think that’s selfish, so be it.”

“So you’re not worried about the bigger issues out there?” I asked.

“At the risk of repeating something I’ve told you in another time and place,” Sam said, “you’d better know about those larger issues. Know about the things that might have an impact on us and those that will not, regardless of how sensational they may be.”

He leaned forward a bit. “I read a book about a missionary doctor in India who provided medical care to lepers. The man who wrote the book’s foreword was quite idealistic with concerns about world poverty, diseases, and so on. While interviewing the doctor for the book, he made a significant discovery that affected his own outlook. The doctor wasn’t motivated by a desire to change the world. He was helping lepers because they’re individuals—human beings like you and me.”

I looked over at Duane who seemed to be taking this in as much as I was.

Sam continued. “It’s the starfish principle, gentlemen. You’ve heard the old story. It’s been told a dozen different ways, but the idea is the same. A little boy sees an old man on the beach tossing starfish in the sea. He scoffs and questions the old man. ‘What difference does what you’re doing really make? You’ll never throw them all back in the sea.’ The old man tosses in one more and says, ‘It makes a difference to that one.’ You and I will not likely make a dent in the world’s problems, but you’d better make a meaningful difference among those closest to you.”

“It sounds like that old hymn. ‘Brighten the corner where you are,’” said Duane.

“Exactly,” Sam said. “Survival means you’re doing what others are not to increase your chances for living through adversity.”

“That’s why it’s a good idea to have the proper provisions, right?” asked duane.

“That’s what I’ve been saying all along,” Sam said. “Let me put this another way. You’ve heard the old saying, ‘Think globally. Act locally.’ The survival mentality restates that saying this way: ‘Think Biblically. Act locally.’”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Sam reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a pocket New Testament. “Here’s one key example. Let me read what the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in First Timothy 5:8. ‘But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.’ In other words, the instruction to Christians in the early church was to take care of their own households first, or they’d be acting worse than those who were unbelievers. That directive is still good today.”

He put the Testament back in his pocket before continuing. “You know it’s time to do some serious planning and stocking up on things you’ll need, perhaps sooner than later. We may be forced to barter one of these days. I know it sounds speculative, but don’t rule out the possibility. To some, barter is a four letter word. Did you hear anybody in the public eye say such a thing in 1999 in the midst of Y2K concerns?”

“No, I didn’t,” Duane said. I nodded in agreement.

“I didn’t hear anybody say it either,” said Sam, “unless it was someone on Coast to Coast AM or some gold seller on shortwave radio. It’s just a matter of time before things get as drastic as some predict. If you agree that America’s toast anyway and that we can’t handle such a monumental crisis, then you’ll want to buy things you need while you can.”

Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.