[If you’re even asking this question you are a short-sighted and lazy individual seeking rationalization for continuing to be that way. I will destroy any semblance of that rationalization with logic.]
I recently had an at-length discussion addressing the need for physical strength and fitness in a post-industrial society, and those thoughts led to this post. Life as we know it—with microwaves, cars, day laborers, and Google—relies on machines (and uneducated people, unfortunately) to do the bulk of our physical labor for us. We even have automated assembly-line robots to make our cars for us now. All of these labor-saving devices have fantastic benefits, namely by exponentially increasing the productivity of overall civilization, but they also have one crucial drawback through no fault of their own: us humans’ tendency for dependency. This in and of itself is not a bad thing, since it frees up our physical and mental resources for other things, but the problem is that we have developed a reliance on a way of life that could very easily collapse at any moment like a wobbly card table.
Our society, particularly here in southern California, is fueled by trucks (and to a lesser extent trains) bringing in and distributing supplies to our primary points of contact—hardware stores, supermarkets, department stores, etc. We also have a water treatment and distribution system that delivers water to and removes sewage from our homes directly, and garbage trucks that save us the unpleasant task of disposing of our solid waste at the city dump. All of these things–those critical services lumped together as “utilities” when we talk about our monthly expenses–require functioning roads and stable ground underfoot. This is unfortunate considering our region is one of the most seismically active in the United States. Translation: a major earthquake—something geologists say is likely in the next several years—would completely fuck our way of life for weeks or months while sufficient resources are dispatched to restore normal function.
Let’s ignore, just for a moment, the well-documented fact that maintenance of a sharp mind requires maintenance of an optimally-functioning body, and consider this from a purely survivalist standpoint. Suppose we get a magnitude-7 quake, epicenter in, say, La Habra, would you be able to physically extricate yourself or a loved one from a dangerous situation like a collapsing house or a pile of rubble? Could you haul 50 pounds of water for several miles to keep yourself and your family alive for another week? If so, pat yourself on the back. If not, you’d better get down here ’cause we’ve got some work to do.
Here’s my main point. The fact that regular day-to-day life generally does not require hard physical labor only masks the urgent necessity of having the capacity to do so. This mindset, by the way, is essentially identical in nature to that which goes with combat martial arts training–the notion that you should train to deal with the unthinkable and pray that it never, ever happens.
If/when the shit hits the fan, you’d better be able to duck.