Be Prepared (2): Skills for Resilient Families

It is my belief that the most important investment you can make for yourself, your family, your community is in yourself. Learning new skills and then sharing them with others, either through your work, or by teaching them to others. This, regardless of what sort of state the world is in, is where the richness of life comes from.

And yet, during the twentieth century we have been encouraged  to replace a broad base of skills with acute specialisation, and replacing our own abilities with paying others to do things for us. Perhaps this is one reason why so many feel a distinct lack of belonging to their own lives, a sense of boredom and disconnection, an alienation from the world, their own lives and the people around them.

Skills are vital. They give self esteem, self-reliance and mean that you can function reasonably normally outside the conventional economic sphere. This is crucial in case of economic melt down, be it on a national scale or the loss of a job. If you have a large number of these skills yourself, books to guide you on others, and a number of friends or family members with further complementary skills then you are all set to weather the storm.

Skills that are needed in hard times and good – both for earning a living and sustaining a household:
Reading, writing and manipulating basic numbers…
Mending, mechanics, story telling, record keeping, cookery, group organisation, household management, butchery, food growing, animal husbandry, hunting and trapping, fishing, baking, food preserving, medical skills of all types (conventional and alternative), sewing, making clothes, furniture making, fire making, building, carpentry, wood chopping, making lotions and potions, survival, self defence, plumbing and electrical engineering… I’m sure you can add a few more!

And of course…the skills of natural parenting, which relies on minimal technology and maximal learned skills: giving birth, attending birthing women, nurturing pregnant women, caring for children and breastfeeding.

Creativity and resourcefulness are two of the most useful and flexible traits. With them you can apply skills learnt in one field to another. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are…”

Patience, intuition, a sense of spiritual strength, clear seeing and organisation are also solid bedrocks to develop in ourselves and our families.

A couple of weeks back I heard a perfect story to illustrate this point. The founding father of reconstructive plastic surgery was not a trained surgeon. In fact he was not allowed to practice the discipline which he fathered. He was a dentist by training. But when he found himself on the battle fields of the First World War, he used the skills and knowledge he had from his dentistry work to reconstruct shatter skulls and torn faces. Thanks to him many men not only survived, but with their physical identity and dignity intact.

What is your skill set? Which manuals and how-to books do you have? What are your gaps? How might you fill them, either by learning skills yourself or making use of someone else who has them?

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