Millions stowed their savings away in mutual funds, houses, and other investments only to find their retirement nest eggs wiped away in a matter of weeks. Over the last few months, we have watched in disbelief as the federal government has done nothing to stop it. Now, as wave after wave of layoffs hit our TV screens, we feel more helpless than ever.

The awful truth that should be dawning on us right now is that the institutions we trust to provide us with stability and prosperity are flawed and frail. When it comes down to it, we cannot rely on government, companies, banks, or markets to save us, as much as we've come to depend on them. Who can we rely on? Ourselves.

This recession should be a wake-up call to all of us to return to self-reliance. If you think about it, who's really in charge of making sure you have food, water, shelter, and safety? Is it really some group of rich guys in a big shiny building thousands of miles away who don't know you from Adam and really could care less about your needs? Are they really the guys you should be trusting with your life? The answers are you, no, and no.

Just to remind those who may not know what self-reliance is, the best way to understand it is to imagine what would happen if all of the systems you currently rely on for the necessities of life suddenly disappeared. What if water no longer came out of the tap? What if there were no more grocery stores stocked with food? What if you couldn't buy new clothes at the store?

The next question is: how would you make sure you and your loved ones had all the necessities of life in that situation? Dedicated practitioners of self-reliance grow their own gardens, sew and mend clothes, learn carpentry and minor repair skills, and store a little extra food for emergencies. Some even learn wilderness survival and purchase durable, long-term camping gear.

Although you may not want to go as far as these individuals, a little self-reliance is a great way to buffer your household against the effects of recession. For instance, put away a little food storage- you never know when food prices might skyrocket again. Also, keep first aid supplies on hand and know how to use them, in case you have an emergency to which 911 can't respond.

Bottom line: learn to cover your back. Learn a trade. Put a little money, food, and supplies away for a rainy day. Hope for the best. But be prepared for the worst.


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