When I was young, there were numerous books out with a Doomsday theme. I remember Pat Frank's "Alas, Babylon" best, but there were others. For a short time I was a member of the Civil Air Patrol manning a tower reporting to who knows where via phone on aircraft contrails passing over. It seemed that we were on the very verge of extinction.
Today, decades later, I still recognize certain themes and fears of my life that I formed then. I was thinking about it this afternoon. For some reason I asked myself whether we would be able to survive if all social and governmental services were, for whatever reason, canceled? One reason these dark thoughts occurred was a news article that a neighboring county has severe lead problems with its water sup[ply. And the county we live in sent a letter to the residents saying that our water supply had finally passed the tests for contaminants. What would we do if the community sewer lines became inoperable?
For some reason it really bothers me to hear people say such tripe as "I could not live like ...", or I"I would rather die than ...". If the worst case happens, the fact is that it could easily be to live like (fill in the blank) or accept the alternative, not living. I know, or believe strongly, that I can adapt in most, if not all, cases. I can do a lot of things. It's possible, for instance, that my interest in quilting has an underlying purpose of developing a sewing skill that could be useful in a worst case scenario.
And without evidence (of course) I believe much of our nation continues to behave as if doomsday were not possible. A different sort of doomsday could occur: global warming, water shortage or pollution, energy crises, food shortages, even internal insurrection caused by some combination of the preceding.
We seem to be hell-bent on protecting our own monumental edifices rather than facing the necessity to change. And here I use edifices in a wider sense than mere brick and mortar buildings. We haven't accepted, or even considered, that, quoting Pogo, "we have met the enemy and it is us."
I suppose all this is overwrought emoting. I certainly hope so. However, when I read that local water departments are piping contaminated water to its citizens, I wonder whether we are beginning to crumble ever so slightly around the edges. Water has been the cause of more than one conflict in the past, and may be the harbinger of what is to come. Even in the late 60's when I was stationed in northern California, I could see the resentment the north felt in piping their water to the south.
All of us have come to depend on some government. Water is more than a service, it's crucial to life. For most of us, it's not possible to drill wells, or get ourselves to a community well. We rely on utilities such as electricity and gas for heat and cooking. There are enormous problems when power is down for 10 days following a hurricane or large snow storm. In many ways, we don't realize how very close we are to the edge.
In Alas, Babylon, the US was attacked with nuclear weapons. Pat Frank used a small Florida city, supposedly protected from fallout by a combination of favorable trade winds, location, and terrain. A small set of people slowly developed a way of life without government. I wonder if it would be possible for our current population to adjust to life without utilities and government. New Orleans gave us a very small, bitter taste of what would happen. It isn't pretty.
These thoughts, dour and dark as they are, give me more to think about. What would the large cities do if our power or water grids were destroyed? What would I do if I lived in a retirement village and couldn't get water, or didn't have the electricity to cook or boil water? What would I do to survive if an insurrection were to occur here in North Carolina, and my family was endangered? What is core?
I've had enough for this evening. Y'all take care.