For those who cannot remember the book and movie Grapes of Wrath written by John Steinbeck here is a bit of a refresher. In the Great Depression, there was a great drought in Oklahoma and then a great migration from Oklahoma to California took place. This migration was the stuff of legends if not Pulitzer Prize-winning books. It was from this time that the image of the train-hopping Hobo emerged. It was here that Woody Guthrie found roots in the Union movements that inspired the great middle class of yesteryear. I’ve been thinking about it the past few years as the drought in California has unfolded.
Another great book and movie I would recommend is City of Joy. It was a book later made into a Hollywood movie starring Patrick Swayze. Of course, the true star in the show for me was the Indian Superstar Om Puri. I remember looking at the poster and wondering just what made that incredibly humble looking guy a “superstar” in India. Well, the depth of the character that he brought out in that movie made me a fan for life. It was because he could play such a humble person with layers and layers of emotion that made him an incredible actor. Patrick Swayze looked like a plastic figurine compared. Anyway, I digress….but recommend the movie. Both movies actually.
The story was one of probably millions of similar stories that played out in India over the years and that was about farmers being struck by drought or famine or poor economies having to relocate to the cities where they are preyed on by jaded and corrupt city slickers. Their hopes of finding work in the cities more often turning to nightmares and broken dreams.
So what does this all have to do with California? What about the Grapes of Wrath. And what about bug out bags? Well, a few things I suppose.
First of all that most “preppers” in the US anyway, tend to imagine bugging out to be bugging out to the wilderness. And yes that is how it has been in America historically. But today there doesn’t seem to be any more West to head to. No more promised lands of virgin timber and fertile land for those who would for pennies want to settle it.
There just isn’t the concept that in other countries bugging out has meant leaving the beloved farm or the bush to move to the city. It happens all the time in third world countries and in fact, happens in most countries other than North America. The fact is that life on the farm or in the bush is not always possible due to economic changes. In modern times, of industrialization, it hasn’t been possible for massive numbers of people. Americans just got a taste of it during the 80’s when Willie Nelson was doing the Farm Aid concerts. Now that we see the fires burning the forests down and as we speak land speculators buying properties for a fraction of their original prices in burned down neighborhoods. Where will those suburbanites in California go? I don’t think any will bug out to the bush at this point. No, they will most likely have to head to the city and get a condo or apartment. Get closer to work rather than farther from it while they recover. Meanwhile, the old neighborhood will be gone, maybe for good at least to corporate or uber-wealthy banking interests.
My point is that as the drought in California continues and the wildfires rage, there will be more impetus to move to the city rather than away from it for most people. Sure, if the cities collapse into movie-like chaos with earthquakes or lawless almost certain death around every corner or a rabid virus…then the bush will be considered. But not until then.
Until then people will bug out TO the city for the resources and jobs. Survival then will be in the city not in the bush. Sleeping out in the cold might have to happen in a city park or on a steam vent. Actually, that is happening to people now and has been for a quite a few years if you haven’t noticed. Will that accelerate in coming years? I don’t know. But I wonder about it. Even though it is dangerous in tent cities people will stick together and do that in areas of dense population. The city offers hope whereas the bush offers the same every day forever or worse every day.
It takes a particular kind of grit for people to move out to the bush and eat squirrels. Not many will do it unless staring down the barrel of a gun or something I’m sure. Even then…
And for the conspiracy-minded, it really does look like ‘someone’ is trying to move people to the cities on purpose. Trying to make the countryside inhospitable. It seems to be working. Agenda 21? I don’t know. But I won’t deny it either. Something is going to be changing in California at some point. And that worries me sometimes when I let it.
As I sit here writing this, for example, I have just finished dinner which was made almost entirely from produce grown in California. How else do you think Canadians can eat in the winter? Were not growing anything here that’s for sure! I know if anything happens to California as far as the drought and food growing goes, we are done. Especially in the rural areas. Most of us will be high tailing it to the cities to find food let alone work and fuel. That’s the painful truth of it.
The long and short of this is to be ready to evacuate you will have to consider the possibility of having to relocate to the city not away from it. In which case what will you put in your bug out bag?