Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lead By Example

I'm still jogging every morning. It hasn't done a lot for my physique yet, but then again I'm not really one to be slim. Before The Fall I clocked in between 230-240 pounds, and just at six feet tall. I had a belly but not some beer slab. Chalk that up to unusually dense muscles (thanks, dad!), broad shoulders and a thick chest. If I get down to my "ideal" weight, around 170, I look like a crackhead.

That was pretty random, but I think it kind of fits with my mood this morning.

I've gone on a bit lately about how the zombie plague has affected us and our perceptions. One of the things that really blows me away is how adaptive most of us are. When the other option is death, stale rice and overcooked forest creature makes for a fine set of staple foods. I've lost a lot of weight since the zombies came, simply from a lack of all the insanely unhealthy foods I used to eat. I'm at about 200 pounds right now, and while I will always retain the slight pudge that is my genetic heritage (thanks, Ireland) I am healthier than I have ever been and can run a country mile flat out if I need to.

It may not seem like much of a silver lining, but think about it. I can outrun the undead if I need to. That's something I could never do before. More than that, I feel great. I breathe easier, don't get tired after a good run, and could kick in a car door.

I wrote yesterday about accepting and embracing the way things are as a means to work toward making things better, and I feel like this is a pretty good example of that.

Proudly, I want to say that two other people have managed a similar feat. Not long ago, I told you about Jamie Packard sucker punching Dodger in a moment of anger. I worried about the punishment for Jamie, even though he was guilty by self-admission and acted in front of others. I know very well what it is to try and control rage, and I can understand him.

Jamie showed pretty remarkable self-awareness about the whole thing. He knew that he had broken the rules, and that being allowed to walk away unpunished would be terrible for morale. Not that he was all that fond of the idea of punishment, but he recognized that committing violence with no provocation was counter to the very idea of the compound.

So Rich, our magistrate and judge, gave Jamie a choice. He could either allow judgement to be passed on him and accept whatever came his way, or he could choose from a list of punishments. Understand, there wasn't any need for a trial as we used to think of them. Jamie's guilt was never in question. There were no mitigating circumstances, he admits that Dodger did nothing to deserve getting hit. I think Rich gave him the option because Jamie was so forthright in taking responsibility.

So Jamie took three lashes. It was a bit harsh, more than he had to take. But he told Dodger after that people who felt as he did had to understand that nothing could be gained from losing control, and everything would be risked.

I see the wisdom there. What if, while Dodger and Jamie were having their altercation, a swarm had come upon the group of scouts that were crowding around them and not paying any attention to the surrounding area? If they had been attacked because Jamie's attack had caused a distraction, I sincerely doubt Rich would have been so lenient. If someone had been killed? Probably exile or death.

He knew that. He hated the idea of holding himself up on that post and waiting for the whip to lace across his back, but he did it. Jamie showed an understanding of himself and our situation that frankly shocked me. It took my small revelation the other day to realize just how far so many people here have come.

In the end, Dodger and Jamie shook hands. Not tersely or with grudges, but as two men who recognized that a wrong had been committed, and punishment for it served.

What purpose would be served by either of them staying upset about it? Team cohesion would falter, efficiency and watchfulness would suffer. Bad feelings build on themselves, only leading to more and worse problems down the road.

Those guys accepted the reality of the situation and moved on, just as I was talking about yesterday. You have to wonder how many stories like that are around here, going on every day. It may not seem like a big deal to some of you out there, but for me it's like watching a dream I never expected to become reality suddenly smack me in the face and say hello. The biggest problem this world has ever had, at least in human society, is not a lack of communication. It's a lack of understanding.

People let too many unimportant things interfere with their better judgement. Racism was a great and extreme example of that--what could be more stupid than ignoring a potentially awesome friend of lover because of skin color?

Tensions between nations, personal relationships, or simply working at a job...these are all things that have suffered because people couldn't put overcome their pride or emotions and think rationally about what would be better for everyone. That's what really gets me here.

So many of us living in the compound have done it. Certain death is a great motivator and unifier. The really hard part is that far-distant and possibly fictional day when there is no immediate threat to bring us together. Working toward the good of all rather than from personal ambition or desire has to be a shared goal and ideal, or basically we're all fucked.

I've said before that the good of the tribe must be our primary concern. That has always been the position from which I have built most of my personal views and beliefs. My time out in the rain helped me to understand that to strive for the greater good, we have to overcome our internal struggles. Thinking about Jamie and Dodger, I can see that to some degree, we are managing that.

Now, if we can just keep it up for the rest of human history...

No comments:

Post a Comment