What is Normal Anyway? A Letter from the Editor

As you read this, we’re closing in quickly on the tail end of 2021 — what we all hoped would be “the year we go back to normal.” While there was much discussion about the chaos of 2020 being an anomaly of American life, the truth has proven to be a little more disheartening. Large-scale civil unrest persists in several major U.S. cities and the economic downturn resulting from COVID-related shutdowns and payouts have only led to an increased sense of dissatisfaction and restlessness throughout our society. But we’re not the only ones. As I write this, there are widespread demonstrations ongoing in the world, from France to Cuba, about various sociopolitical issues. This got us thinking: What lessons can we glean from other countries who have already experienced, or are also currently experiencing, the scale and severity of cultural upheaval that we’ve seen right here at home?

So, we’re dedicating this issue to survival lessons learned abroad. We’re fortunate to have accumulated a handful of subject matter experts who have deployed and lived overseas, both in an official government capacity and as civilians struck with wanderlust. The problems we’re seeing here in America — economic turmoil, large-scale destructive protests, increased street crime, decreased availability of infrastructure and public safety services, and cyber-privacy infringement — are not new, and not unique to us.

We have two “life lessons” pieces, one from RECOIL OFFGRID alum Micah Dalton and another with newcomer Bucky Pratt. Both have spent years traveling around the world alone, with only the clothes on their back and a go-bag to live out of for weeks or months on end. They’ve experienced a large array of the aforementioned street-level problems that are becoming more and more familiar to suburban Americans, and have taken some time out of their respective globe-trotting to share their street smarts and survival lessons about looking out for yourself in a world that’s getting … spicy.

The current trends in unrest and street crime have led many to reflect on the possibility of what’s next. How bad will it get, and when will we get there? The idle chitchat of “Civil War 2.0” refuses to subside, and many are pointing to current events — both domestic and international — as a precursor. Regardless of your thoughts on the likelihood (or unlikelihood) of this scenario, research journalist Hollie McKay produced a thoroughly informed discussion with survivors of full-blown societal collapses and civil wars from around the world. These people shed some light on the courses of events which led to large-scale human disasters and deeply humanize the “ground truth” of being caught in the middle. 

As always, we hope to provide you with cutting-edge information that’s relevant not just right now but whenever you need it — even though we hope you never do. Stay tuned and stay safe. 


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