You know that things like plastic bullets, beanbag rounds, rubber buckshot, etc. are called “Less-than-lethal”, right? It used to be they were called “non-lethal”, but the problem was that sort of title implied that you couldn’t kill anyone with itg. Sixty seconds on Google will show plenty of episodes of people getting brained with ‘non-lethal’ baton rounds and that sort of thing and winding up dead. So…the moniker “Non-lethal” was changed to less-than-lethal meaning that usually it won’t kill someone if you use it properly. A lot of distinctions there.

Many of the blogs I read advocate ‘self-sufficiency’ as a goal. They propose the dream house that is ‘off the grid’ and independent of the umbilical cords that connect us to the major infrastructure. This is all great if you can do it, but it’s a tall order. It seems that the choices are binary…you are ‘off the grid’ and ‘self-sufficient’ or you’re ‘on the grid’ and screwed. There hasn’t been a term for that in-between stage. I think that term is ‘less-than-dependent’. It implies that you aren’t self-sufficient, but you are more resilient to an infrastructure failure than those who are 100% dependent on that infrastructure. Let me give an example…

X has a house in town that has city water, city sewer, grid electric, natural gas, gets his groceries from the market, and that sort of thing. Z has a farm in the hills with a well, septic field, solar/wind generators and batteries, livestock and a huge garden, and all the other gee-whiz that we dream about. X is dependent and not self-sufficient, and Z is , by pretty much most definitions, independent and self-sufficient. Lethal vs. non-lethal. But is there an unrecognized or unacknowledged ‘in-between’? Take Y, who lives in the burbs or on the edge of town. He has his home set up just like X with it’s tie-in to ‘the grid systems’, and he doesn’t have the dedicated systems like Z….but he has backup generators, a cistern and pool full of water, a pantry loaded with food, a large propane tank to run his emergency heater and stove, etc, etc. He’s not 100% dependent, but he’s not 100% independent either. He is, I think, ‘less-than-dependent’.

I bring it up because sometimes I think we forget that it isn’t a binary choice…you’re either dependent or independent, self sufficient or not self sufficient. I think there’s a grey area in there and that grey area is where most of us are. I’m certainly not self-sufficient, in this context, but I’m far from dependent. I may not last as long as the guy out in the hills with his self-sufficient setup, but I’ll far, far outlast my totally dependent neighbors. We all want to leave the dependent stage, and I think we all want to reach the self-sufficient/independent stage, but we should recognize that less-than-dependent is still a huge step in the right direction. Some people may be okay with less-than-dependent, some people may see it as just a stop on their way to independent/self-sufficient, but…if you cannot get to that independent/self-sufficient stage, at least try to get to the less-than-dependent stage.

10 thoughts on “Less-than-dependent

  1. In your example Z is also less than dependent. Unless his wife is a surgeon and an epidemiologist and his kids have other specialties.

    It’s all just degrees of dependence as far as I can tell.

  2. well, in many circles its called less-lethal now days, leaving out the “than” because that still left the connotation that those weapons were not lethal in any circumstance. just my 2 cent, i think “less dependent” suits. i think 90% of preppers fall in that category. its very difficult to live off grid 24/7 in a modern world. its a full time job with extensive overtime, and not many folks have that much time to spare or the backbone. i get the feeling we’ll all get a chance one day to try though. good thought experiment.

  3. It’s almost like how the homesteaders no longer want to be associated with preppers, survivalists or off-gridders because it paints them as being on the fringe of right wingers. There’s a whole bunch of YT and blogs that state if you aren’t X then you won’t survive anything, you can’t live in the suburbs and call yourself self sufficient at any level or unless you move to the middle of no where and start your own community of like minded people/followers then you’ll have no chance to survive a shtf event.

  4. The journey to independence is a lifestyle. If you’re honest with yourself you’ll always find an opportunity to further your transition. My family is on fourteen acres with four cows, chickens, goats and a garden. We didn’t just make a down-payment and move in. Every year there’s a new project. Build a barn, start a garden, put in solar power. The point I want to make is we don’t take vacations, eat out or drive new cars. There are tractors to repair, sprayers to buy and fences to mend. We are closer to independence than when we started six years ago. A well is next on the agenda ($25,000) so you better love the lifestyle if you really want to be self-sufficient.

  5. Farmer Z is probably still dependent, like Jake mentioned. Seeds are mostly hybrids these days, well pumps can go out, legs can get broken, people catch the flu. And being somewhat dependent is OK. We’ve always been that way. Humans have always lived in families, tribes, clans, villages, towns and so on. We’re social creatures.

    My goal isn’t 100% independence, it’s being independent enough that if something bad happens I can care for myself so that I can then turn to helping those people in my little tribe that might need some help.

  6. I think of it in terms of how many days I could likely get by if system X failed (e.g., grocery store food). Even with the ideal off grid set up there are taxes to pay and eqipment that will fail eventually, even if that equipment is you back.

  7. One of the issues is: Is “Mr. Less-Than-Dependent” in a stationary position or is he at a point that is part of a transition from “Dependent” to “Non-Dependent”?

    The other is: While “Mr. Non-Dependent” will almost certainly have to contend with some “Fully Dependent” people, “Mr. Less-Than-Dependent” is surrounded by them, posing a different problem to be solved.

  8. I moved from Pennsylvania to Montana 3 years ago to live the off grid life. For the last 3 years we have been getting the homestead “ready”. I think in another 3-r years I will feel comfortable with our efforts but still not close to our less dependent life/homstead we left in Pennsylvania. We just have a million less people to contend with in Montana. Anyone thinking they will just big out and hit the road with an rv and a couple solar panels will be in for a massive awakening.

  9. What about the concept of “interdependence”. I’ve been doing some reading and it seems that the various degrees of dependence will therefore require some amount of interdependence if family groups or small community groups are going to survive times of disaster.

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