Editor’s note: At the back of the modern U.S. Marine Corps field manual, Survival, Evasion, and Recovery, you’ll find an appendix on maintaining “the will to survive.” It offers a succinct list of points a Marine should keep in mind if he finds himself in a really tight spot. They touch on both a man’s psyche and spirit, and apply equally well to civilians going through any kind of rough time.
THE WILL TO SURVIVE
ARTICLE VI CODE OF CONDUCT
I will never forget that I am an American fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.
1. Psychology of Survival
(1) Know your capabilities and limitations.
(2) Keep a positive attitude.
(3) Develop a realistic plan.
(4) Anticipate fears.
(5) Combat psychological stress by—
(a) Recognizing and anticipating existing stressors (injury, death, fatigue, illness, environment, hunger, isolation).
(b) Attributing normal reactions to existing stressors (fear, anxiety, guilt, boredom, depression, anger).
(c) Identifying signals of distress created by stressors (indecision, withdrawal, forgetfulness, carelessness, and propensity to make mistakes).
b. Strengthen your will to survive with—
(1) The Code of Conduct.
(2) Pledge of Allegiance.
(3) Faith in America.
(4) Patriotic songs.
(5) Thoughts of return to family and friends.
c. Group dynamics of survival include—
(1) Leadership, good organization, and cohesiveness promote high morale:
(a) Preventing panic.
(b) Creating strength and trust in one another.
(c) Favoring persistency in overcoming failure.
(d) Facilitating formulation of group goals.
(2) Taking care of your buddy.
(3) Working as a team.
(4) Reassuring and encouraging each other.
(5) Influencing factors are—
(a) Enforcing the chain of command.
(b) Organizing according to individual capabilities.
(c) Accepting suggestions and criticism.
2. Spiritual Considerations
a. Collect your thoughts and emotions.
b. Identify your personal beliefs.
c. Use self-control.
e. Remember past inner sources to help you overcome adversity.
f. Pray for your God’s help, strength, wisdom, and rescue.
(1) Talk to your God.
(2) Give thanks that God is with you.
(3) Ask for God’s help.
(4) Pray for protection and a positive outcome.
g. Remember scripture, verses, or hymns; repeat them to yourself and to your God.
h. Worship without aid of written scripture, clergy, or others.
(1) Yourself for what you have done or said that was wrong.
(2) Those who have failed you.
j. Praise God and give thanks because—
(1) God is bigger than your circumstances.
(2) God will see you through (no matter what happens).
(3) Hope comes from a belief in heaven and/or an after-life.
(1) Faith and trust in your God.
(2) Love for family and self.
(3) Never lose hope.
(4) Never give up.
l. With other survivors—
(1) Identify or appoint a religious lay leader.
(2) Discuss what is important to you.
(3) Share scriptures and songs.
(4) Pray for each other.
(5) Try to have worship services.
(6) Write down scriptures and songs that you remember.
(7) Encourage each other while waiting for rescue, remember—
(a) Your God loves you.
(b) Praise your God.