Saturday, October 15, 2011

Common Cause

So much of our time is spent moving from one place to another that it's hard to find a moment to explain the variety of people we find at the communities of survivors we visit. That was a thought I had when I woke up a few minutes ago, and the next thing that went through my head was somewhat enlightening:

It's our similarities that are more important.

Every survivor is unique. When we clump together in groups, common cause tends to shape the attitudes of the individuals. A lot of what makes up the personality of the various communities is external; the number and frequency of zombie attacks, how safe their fortified home(s) may be. Access to food and water is a big factor. The easier those are to attain, the more relaxed and easygoing the people tend to be. The people of Long Town, for example, had a fairly secure wall, which made them relatively trusting. They were polite and courteous toward us, yet not generous. Their food was limited, so they made it clear from the get-go that we'd have to fend for ourselves.

The commonalities are just as interesting an probably more vital to cooperation. Every place we've been, there has been an almost palpable sense of community. A general feeling of affection and even love between the people. It's not hard to figure out, we've all felt it and seen it. Soldiers have always grown bonds between them in battle. Survival requires the conscious choice to risk your life for another, and they for you.

Humanity is unique in the animal kingdom, because we've moved beyond the lower-brain instinct to feel loyalty, at most, at the herd level. Right now we're threatened by the zombie hordes, our fellow men, hunger, weather, disease. Those immediate factors push us to feel more strongly toward the close group around us.

I have simple goals for this mission. Well, simple in theory, maddeningly difficult in reality. Trade between the surviving clusters of people is necessary. We have to work together to survive in the long term. We need more than that. We need to recapture that wide-sweeping urge to see all people do well. Survival of the species, not just the tribe.

We're all people, after all. We face the same threats and hardships. We see it more and more every time we stop. I told you all about the walrus yesterday, but there isn't enough time in the world to tell you about even half of the tiny but crucial interactions between the people we've met. All the jokes and shared stories, the smiles and commiserations alike.

I can't be any more plain. These are people. Flesh and bone like all of us. Every one of them deserves a chance at life and to find happiness in a dreary, dangerous world. I've met so many of them, most for only short periods of time, yet I feel that urge to protect. To do what I can to make things better.

This isn't just a trade mission anymore. It's growing into something bigger. More important. That could just be my ego talking, trying to make the miles and danger and time away from home seem worth it.

But I'll tell you this: I've made a few trade agreements with Sparta that benefit them more than us. Because the vital resources they lack are very dear to them, we're giving a little more. And they know it. They know I did what I could to help them, backed by my people in New Haven. They're grateful. We're glad to help.

Our medical supplies might save the lives of their children. A small act of kindness goes a long way. We've seen how badly that can go lately.

I'm thrilled to see some positive results now, too.

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