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Bycyclists and Hurricanes – Bringing out the best and worst in mankind

2020 A Voice in the NELA Wilderness Christopher Nyerges Columnists Editions February

A Voice in the NELA Wilderness

This month: What the News Has Reminded Me About Survival 

by Christopher Nyerges

During a short lunch break recently, I turned on the TV, intending to watch the weather forecast, which I never did.

First, I learned about a bicyclist who was killed in Los Angeles and the killer simply drove away in a Toyota truck. Shocking! How is it that someone can run down a bicyclist, kill him and just drive off?

Drivers need to wake up and realize that the bicyclist is their friend — and a friend to the sprawling mass of Los Angeles County. And bicyclists – some anyway – need to wake up to the fact that their total 150 pounds of mass is nothing compared to a minimum 2,000-pound car.

I have never figured out why some bicyclists taunt auto drivers and ride their bikes far from the curb in a way that makes them a target in a confrontation they can’t win.

Next, the news showed the wreckage of another hurricane. There were scenes of remarkable rescuers who came out on boats, taking stranded people to dry land and bringing supplies to those in need. There were also scenes of looting at a convenience store in the flooded town and a few arrests.

As I watched these contrasting dramas unfolding, I recalled what C.S. Lewis so insight-fully pointed out in the “Screwtape Letters.” Times of great stress and disaster bring out the worst in mankind, but somehow also bring out the best.

I also recalled two of the best pieces of advice for anyone preparing for disasters (or old age, for that matter): 1. Develop useful skills. 2. Develop deep, meaningful relationships with people. Not “gather lots of stuff.” Not “make sure you have the biggest knife.”

Yes, stuff is important, but look what each hurricane and firestorm does to all that stuff! We can’t predict the weather, but we should be able to rely upon our own hard-earned skills and our deep friendships.

Nyerges is the author of “Foraging California,” “Extreme Simplicity,” “The Self-Reliant Home,” and other books.

For information on his books and classes, go to