There's an important concept left out of survival discussions, because it's not part of our culture and it would probably make us uncomfortable. It's reflected in the question that American Indian parents would often ask their kids: “What have you done today to deserve another day?” What have you done today to deserve another day?
Now, remember, no one honored individual autonomy and freedom more than American Indians. But they knew that just because you're born, doesn't mean you could do whatever you want. There was an element of responsibility inherent in life. Not just for humans, but for all living things. Responsibility to your people, to the land, to the ancestors, to all the creatures and spirits, to future generations. People had freedom – much more than we can imagine – but freedom, to be healthy, had limits. Those limits made them sustainable. It meant making sure you lived in a way which benefits all of life.
So, when it comes to survival, sure, you can learn how to stay alive in the wilderness, how to make fire, filter your water, forage, catch animals for food, and how to cope with life's challenges.
But why? WHY should you survive?
I'm not asking that because I'm superior or better than anyone. Just think of it: Whenever a person finds themselves in a survival situation, what do they do first? They start making promises to whatever god or gods they believe in – and what do they promise? They start promising behaviours which they think will earn them the right to live! For example, they promise to go to church, to be nicer, a better parent, a better spouse, better with their parents, to work hard, and so on – whatever would make them a “good” person, however they define “good”.
So it's usually only when facing death that we ask ourselves that question and start thinking that way. What I'm saying is, we shouldn't wait until we're facing death.
Again, I'm not saying all this like I'm a paragon of perfection. I ask these things to myself everyday.
And you know what, it's not easy, it's a struggle in our society and culture to think this way. Our culture doesn not ask us to be responsible to all of life on the planet. Our culture demands unquestioning obedience that we don't care, and that we think only of ourselves, distract ourselves, stare at screens, make money, try to get rich, and try to gain status.
But look around – we must think this way. We must live in a way which respects all of life on the planet. So we must ask ourselves this question: What have I done today to deserve another day?
So I can teach you survival, or you can study survival. But why? Why should you, or any of us, survive? That's the real question.