“What? Let ‘em haul me off to the FEMA camps?” Duane’s fork clattered into his plate of eggs. We were in the midst of another rousing discussion over breakfast at the Cafe 23.
“I don’t believe what I’m hearing! What about that story you told us about the guy who wore the T-shirt that says, ‘Don’t get on the truck’?”
“Easy, Duane.” Survival Sam put his hand on Duane’s arm. “Let’s back up and take this slowly.”
“I’ll say. How about slowing it down to a complete stop.” Bright sun gleamed through the window as Duane reached for his orange juice. “I never thought I’d hear the Great Survival Sam say such a crazy thing. I mean, it’s just crazy.”
“I’m not sure I know what you’re getting at either, Sam,” I said. “Usually when we have these get-togethers, you focus on something that has to do with survival. Are you saying give up and give in to Big Brother?”
“What the…?” Duane reddened. “What kind of an answer is that?”
Sam looked momentarily at each of us. “To quote our beloved politicians when they speak to us about the international enemy of the day, all options are on the table.”
“Ah, come on Sam, don’t play games.” Duane wadded and unwadded his napkin.
“Oh, believe me, this is no game, Duane,” said Sam, “and this is indeed about survival. You gentlemen may have heard that a number of Americans are leaving the country and heading to where they hope there’s less socialism and oppression. There are certainly businesses heading out of the country.”
“Yeah, like we need more of that.” Duane looked down for a second. “Where would you go anyway? Brazil? Australia? No thanks, not with their crazy gun control laws. I mean, really, where is there to go? Did you hear about the lady journalist a few years ago who was held in a psych hospital in New Zealand for several days because she didn’t believe the official story about 9/11? Clear down in New Zealand, for crying out loud! They accused her of being delusional.”
We sat for a few seconds, letting that one sink in.
I spoke up. “I remember hearing about one of those investment consultants with quite a following who moved to Chile, and that was some 25 years ago or more. Think how bad things have gotten since then.”
“Yeah, well, all I know is I sure can’t skip the country,” Duane said. “That’s for rich fat cats.”
“Most of us are in no position to emigrate.” Sam paused to sip his coffee. “Of course, if the U. S. breaks up, as some predict, another country could be across the nearest state border.”
“Now, there’s a thought,” I said.
Sam continued. “Consider another option, Duane. I know of a man who’s thinking of escape on a smaller scale. He wants to get out of the hot spots should anarchy break out or martial law be imposed.”
“Oh, yeah.” I put down my toast. “I remember you suggested once the idea of living for a while in caves. Is that what you mean, Sam?”
“Caves, get lost in the woods, escape down a river…Whatever it takes, yes.”
“Permanently?” Duane calmed a little. “Me and my family know how to camp out for a few days, but I’m not sure just how long we could hold out in the boonies.”
“perhaps a few days is all that would be necessary until the worst of the crisis of the day has passed,” Sam said.
“I don’t know.” Duane picked up his fork again. “By the time we’d get back home, everything would likely be looted by raging mouth breathers. That’s not for me. I’ll stay and fight to the death. I’m not doing all this preparedness stuff for nothing.”
“None of us knows what will happen tomorrow, duane. I’m simply suggesting we consider all possibilities.”
Sam poured more syrup on his plate of pancakes before continuing.
“Depending on the situation, it could be that your strategy is wise. In the aftermath of a hurricane you may want your shotgun in plain sight to keep looters at bay. On the other hand, in a different scenario, if you go up against federal troops, you’ll be outmanned and outgunned. Dying sounds noble, but Don’t try to be a hero only to get killed and leave your wife and children to fend for themselves. For the moment, stay informed on current events. Act wisely. Consider how you might survive the adversity at hand.”
“Yeah, I see your point, but I don’t like it.” Duane gulped his orange juice and banged his glass on the blue tabletop. “Look, we’re Christian men here. When it comes to adversity, there’s a verse in the Bible–Jeremiah 29: 11 I think it is. It says, ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.’”
“History and practical experience prove that Christians aren’t immune to adversity.” Sam took a swig of coffee. “Incidentally, it’s interesting you bring up that verse, Duane. That verse is part of the text of a letter the prophet Jeremiah wrote from Jerusalem to Jews who had already been taken captive by the Babylonians. He tells them to build houses, plant gardens, and make the best of life in their new situation. God’s plans for good were for the Jews who submitted to those who would normally have been considered their enemy.”
I felt like I’d been hit with a mild lightning bolt. “Is that where the idea of going to the FEMA camps comes in, Sam?”
“Very perceptive, John. That’s the third option. Our choices are to flee, fight or fall in, in a manner of speaking. Necessity may dictate we go along with whatever program is offered. For example, if power and water are cut to wide areas, you can bet people will be standing in line waiting for the water and food trucks to come around. Many will gladly volunteer to move to internment camps, hoping for better circumstances.”
Duane bit off a piece of bacon. “I think we know how that story ends—and I do mean ends.”
“Not necessarily,” Sam said. “It could be an opportunity to do as my dad often told me to do as a young man. Whenever there was a job to be done, he’d say, ‘Make yourself useful.’ Do you have any skills that might make you indispensable?”
“Like what?” I asked.
“What has your background prepared you for? I seem to recall you telling me how your elderly friend in England survived World War II by having a useful skill,” Sam said.
“Yeah, that’s right,” I said. “He worked in the kitchen in the Royal Air Force. He spent most of his time in the Middle East and never saw a day of combat duty. All because he had been a baker and confectioner since he was 14. He lived to be 87.”
“Interesting.” Duane chewed a little more bacon. “You know, when it comes to submitting and all that, I know about the first few verses of Romans 13, but I just don’t know. It would still be hard to go along with whatever I might be asked to do by the powers that be at some concentration camp.”
Sam looked thoughtfully at duane. “Nobody’s asking you to be a loyalist. Just a pragmatic survivalist.”