Sunday, October 24, 2010

Civility Breakdown and Total ANARCHY

What is it that makes a civilized society civilized?  What is the number one thing that keeps people from turning into animals and running amok in complete anarchy?

While I can't say that there is one magical thing, I can think of a few things that keep a civilized society civil.

1. Gasoline: It is the lifeblood of nations and without it, all industry grinds to a halt.

2. Electricity: This is something we take for granted everyday.  99.999% of people can't make it through 1 minute of their day without using electricity.

3. Running water: This is another thing we take for granted daily.  When you shower, brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, you use water and sewer services that require a massive infrastructure to keep working.

4. Food supply: We rely on grocery stores to bring food to us packaged conveniently so we may consume it quickly.

If you lose these four things for any period of time, our so-called civilized society starts to break down rapidly.  My line of work is pretty much emergency type work.  I maintain generators.  Without backup power, places like hospitals, fire stations, police stations, water treatment plants, and even sewer systems stop working.  Believe me when I tell you I've seen people go from good to completely terrible when they realize their power (or backup power) is out, especially if it is critical equipment.

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in late August of 2005, it completely devastated the Gulf Coast, killed 1800 people, and destroyed a levee system that governments were in charge of maintaining.  Flood waters rammed casino boats and houses into buildings and land upwards of 12 miles inland.  Flood waters remained high for weeks after the event.  Five years after the fact, many people affected by Hurricane Katrina still live in temporary housing.  The catastrophe has cost America over 90 BILLION dollars!

How long did it take for services, electricity, fuel, and food supply lines to break down?  Well, fuel was scarce before the hurricane made landfall.  People were busy trying to get out of the path of destruction.  That put a squeeze on fuel supply.  Others tried to stock up on food as best they could after realizing they would not make it out in time.  There goes the food supply.  As for electricity and other services like water and sewer, they were put out of business when the hurricane destroyed power substations, flooded levees, destroyed sewer systems, and ravaged water treatment centers.

After the fact, how long did it take for our civilized society to break down completely and go into utter chaos and anarchy?  Four days.  Just four days after the trapped people realized they were on their own, our wonderful civilized society broke down into every man for himself.  People were raped, stolen from, murdered, and victimized either for the few things they had or because people didn't know how to cope with the sudden loss of all these things that we take for granted every single day. 

Eventually, order was restored, but not before shooting between police and civilians took center stage.  Many of the refugees still in the area were criminals and were responsible, in large, for the murders and rapes that took place after the hurricane swept through.  Another terrifying thing that happened was that police and national guard troops were going house to house, disarming the residents of their weapons that they had for home defense, leaving them completely defenseless and at the mercy (or lack thereof) of criminals and looters.  Fortunately, legislation was put into place afterward to make sure that legally armed civilians would not be disarmed again.  Will our government ignore those laws the next time?  We may never know.

I cite Hurricane Katrina because it was recent (within the last decade).  I also cite it because when people say "It will never happen to me," it in fact does. 

About 4 years ago, we had a major power outage across the Pacific Northwest that put people in the dark for upwards of two weeks, in the middle of winter.  During that time, I watched as hardware stores were cleared of candles, kerosene fuel, gas cans, propane canisters, gas stoves, lanterns, etc.  Gas stations were inundated with people trying to get what little fuel into their gas tanks as they could.  I remember being pushed over by a man trying to buy scented candles because that's all the stores had left.  During all this drama, I watched as stores in the areas not affected, sometimes a few miles away, were completely stocked with vital supplies like food, water, toilet paper, etc. 

Without even suffering a major catastrophe, people acted like it was the Apocalypse, and crammed into stores at the last minute to get whatever they could.  Why?  Because they didn't prepare?  Of course.  But really why?  Because something they took for granted everyday up and went away and they didn't know how long it would be until the lights came back on.  The water was still running.  Toilets were still flushing.  Streets hadn't been destroyed, and everywhere you went, you could always go a few more miles and find areas that weren't affected.

What I remember the most was that people went from being polite to going into every man for himself mode.  Suddenly, the rule of law did not matter?  If you had a generator, you kept it under guard at all times, lest someone come along and steal it from you.  In fact, people went into places like Home Depot, bought a couple generators at the normal price, and sold them in the parking lot for twice as much.  No, nothing illegal about that, but only a douche bag would think to do something like that to his fellow human being in a time of need.

I kept a low profile during that incident.  I had my little generator and a heater.  We ran it for the time we were out of power (which for us was only about a day or so).  We had food, blankets, kerosene lamps, etc to ride it out.  No big deal in our house.  But for some people, it was the end of the world.  They would resort to theft, scandalous activity, and given enough strife, murder to get what they needed to survive.  Hey, it's the survival of the fittest, right?

Now, before you start to say, "Okay, well what's your point anyway," allow me to make it.  No, I'm not going to go about telling you what you need to survive, although I have some writings in that way for you and they will be coming shortly.  But when you prepare, don't announce it to the world.  In the blogosphere, I can get away with it, for the most part, because nobody knows where I live.  I'm talking about your neighbors and friends.  They can and oftentimes do turn on you at the worst moments.

So, what of these writings of mine?  They relate mostly to the bug out bag, which I've sort of touched on before, but these writings are far more detailed and worthwhile to read.  Stay tuned.


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