What is Essential?

What is Essential?

Posted by Phill Groff on Apr 1st 2020

Written by: Phill Groff, Vigr Training LLC.

Humanity is in the grips of a worldwide pandemic and we are all navigating uncharted waters. We are all trying desperately to keep up with the shifting landscape of reality that seems to be moving faster with each passing day. What is safe one day is dangerous the next, uncertainty and misinformation run rampant. While COVID-19 is new, we have dealt with challenges, hardships and adversities throughout the history of mankind. Amidst this upheaval a buzzword has emerged, “essential.”

Es sen tial
adjective:  absolutely necessary; extremely important

noun:  a thing that is absolutely necessary

We have seen this word plastered all over the 24/7 coverage of the crisis and it has been applied to persons, places, things, thoughts, words, actions, and basically everything imaginable. Life has been reduced to two options, essential and non-essential. Decisions are being made at all levels of government and across the globe in every household of what is “essential.” My intent is not to foster the arguments over who gets to decide what is essential for any individual but rather to take a personal, fundamental look at what is essential in this challenging time. That statement alone probably lets you know my own personal stance on the issue!

Many of us have a tremendous amount of free time on our hands that would not normally be present. As we weather the storms of social distancing, it’s the perfect time to reflect inward and truly evaluate what is important. I am an optimistic guy by nature, so I need to locate, lock on and enhance the positivity in even the worst of circumstances. Both time with family and cooperative community spirit (despite our physical separation and differences of opinion) are just a few of the positives that come to mind. In this time of reflection, we must also adapt and LEARN! As we learn and evaluate our response, even in the middle of this pandemic, it is important to identify the essential needs and how we meet them.

Let’s get the conversation started with what is NOT essential…..toilet paper. Humans, like all animals have been discarding their biological waste for the entirety of their existence. Modern TP only hit the scene in 1857 but people have been taking care of their business long before that. Despite the distinct feeling that we are living in 2032 San Angeles, the three seashells are not yet an option (if I lost you, check out the movie Demolition Man, what else ya got going on). Let’s all agree that toilet tissue was a silly panic buy.

The more complex things get, the simpler our responses should become. This is the pure distillation of what is essential. For raw Zombie Apocalypse level survival, I generally stick to the Big 5 of Shelter, Water, Food, Fire, and Security. If you boil down essential needs this will cover your survival, notice I don’t say comfort, but simply survival.

Lets look at the big five essentials in the face of this crisis and expand from there.

SHELTER For most people, shelter is uninterrupted with this situation. This is not a flood, fire, hurricane, chemical or nuclear event that requires mass exodus. We may not like being cooped up, but our shelter remains relatively unscathed. Now is a perfect time to consider what tools you own that could provide shelter if this were an event that required evacuation.

WATER Again, so far so good. Places with clean, potable water continue to provide that same service, sorry Flint MI. COVID-19 has not decimated the work force to a level where water treatment facilities have stopped functioning. Now is the time to consider an alternate water source if this emergency were different and that basic service stopped. Where is the closest source of water other than your faucet? Do you have filtration and treatment options and know how to use them? Do you have a readily available means of mass water storage?

FOOD Let’s be honest with ourselves, even given the current stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures, people have been permitted to move about their community to obtain food. Yes, you may be annoyed at rolling brownouts on grocery store shelves but the acquisition of food has not been a problem. Now imagine if this virus were airborne with a super high mortality rate. No governmental measures would be needed to keep people at home. Fear would do that. Food breaks into two distinct areas - acquisition and storage. What do you have? How long can you store it safely? How will you prepare the food you have?

FIRE OK, Fire really is a primal survival essential that given this pandemic isn’t necessarily required, although a beer beside a roaring campfire is good for the soul. Fire is essential to support several others within the Big 5 from water purification, food preservation, and security.

SECURITY Security protects the other four survival essentials. Security is personal and inherent to every man, woman, and child. Security MUST begin with the individual and not the Government. Think of professional responders, Police, Fire EMS, as your back up not your saviors. Security begins at home! Look at the run on guns and ammo, people are scared. People are concerned with their own safety and in this late hour want to upgrade their means of protection. As a person who makes a living training others to use tools to defend their lives I can tell you that mastery is a lifelong quest. Waiting to acquire the skills and tools until the crisis hits is too late! Mass civil unrest, looting, and rampant violence are not here yet and hopefully will never reach our communities but the preparations to deal with them must be constant!

So let us take score on how many of these true survival, life “essentials” are significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the famous words of Dean Wormer, Zero….Point….Zero. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am crushing movies during my social distancing! IN all seriousness, NONE of the Big 5 are significantly affected by COVID-19. None! Now this is not to say that there are not huge impacts on many other facets of life beyond simple survival. Hygiene, communication, comfort, fiscal security, human services, social interactions have all been impacted in a way almost no one alive today has seen or experienced. I don’t mean to minimize the very real effects these can have on the individual and society as a whole. My business has been affected, as have so many others, in ways far greater and more catastrophic than mine.

If nothing else, I wanted to have this simple and brief discussion to prioritize what is truly essential and give everyone the peace of mind that we can focus on the recommended steps to limit this virus. Take the preventative measures to protect yourself, your family, your neighbors and the community. Weather this storm by first protecting yourself. The deepest essentials have not been threatened, we can focus our energy on the rest to keep this in check. COVID-19 will not be the end of humanity, we will drive through it and come out the other side with a better understanding of what truly is essential in life.


Team Lox would like to give Phill a 'Yuge thanks for writing this very helpful, encouraging article! Multiple members of Team Lox have received firearms training from Phill; if you're interested, check out his website and get in contact with him there!


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