I think one of the most profound truths that we as survivors can recognize is the power of human stories. That's a big part of why the joke-telling Exile guard struck such a chord in me. The guy wasn't doing anything superhuman or amazing. He was just trying to be funny, to connect for a minute with people he had every reason to fear at the least.
Most people around here had a similar reaction, and came to some approximation of the same conclusion: people are strange. Wonderfully so at times. Enemies can kill each other one month and respectfully salute the other side the next. We haven't forgotten (or forgiven) the Exiles for the horrendous deeds they've wrought (I've wanted to use the word 'wrought' in a sentence for a while. You're just going to have to deal with it being there now) but that doesn't mean our attitude toward them is unbending or unchanging.
Now we're starting to see them as individuals instead of a group. Racism and prejudice of all kinds throughout history has been perpetuated because of the path of least resistance--hating groups is easy. Because you can slap all the worst things people in it have done on the whole shebang. None of us doubt that every person with the Exiles has had to do some awful shit, but as I've said (a trillion times), so have we all. But not every person in the group is likely to be at the worst percentile of the psychopath bell curve. We know that intellectually. It just took one guy bucking the attitude of his people, taking a risk in trying to give our watchers a laugh, to make our hearts begin to admit that truth.
And so, we come to this morning.
There's this woman, see. And her husband. And their son, and his wife.
I'm allowed to say that her name is Lori, and that she lives in Minnesota. While I'm sure that Minnesota is a lovely state, I'm baffled as to why any human beings would choose to live there. I like snow and winter as much as the next guy, but not when we're talking about cold that can shatter your will to live and snow so heavy that whole parking lots of cars can get lost under it.
Oh, well. Thinking about that, I guess a lot of the settlers there were originally Scandinavian, so that makes sense. Vikings for the win.
So my post yesterday apparently got Lori's attention. She and her very small group live together, far away from other people. That's by design. Since The Fall Lori and her family have seen a lot of bad things happen, and not all of it by the undead. Human cruelty has been a huge driver for her and the family in keeping away from other groups of people, reinforced by the occasional bands of zombies wandering through.
Something about my post yesterday, or more accurately something about the joker guard yelling into his megaphone across the river--got Lori's attention. She's a savvy lady from what I've gathered in the few messages we've shared since five this morning. She's not nostalgic or easily swayed by overly emotional bubbling (which I may be guilty of from time to time).
It was, she said, the basic humanity displayed by the guard that made her finally speak up and communicate with the outside world. That, and the response by New Haven in general to take the jokes as they were given, no suspicions or fear attached. Just a funny moment.
I didn't feel like it was a catharsis or anything, just a nice thing for the guard to do. Most of us thought the appropriate response would be to accept it in the spirit given. Lori, as an outside observer, sees something more important in the exchange. She says that the fact we can open ourselves up enough to the enemy to accept even a small gift like a joke is important. She says that the enemy's ability to make jokes is indicative of the deeper humanity still alive and well across the river.
Weird, I know. I just thought it was a joke vaguely alluding to blowjobs.
Lori is an interesting person. Though her group is very small, just her family, their progress has paralleled that of other much larger groups in many ways. They've got a farm setup, they have walls around their place (smaller in area but much taller than our own) and even a portable cell transmitter. They monitor things going on around the country but choose not to take part in it. They live quiet and happy lives in their secluded part of the country.
They certainly aren't going to leave all that to risk their lives traveling toward a large group that may or may not give much of a shit about them. It would take a lot more than one moment of good vibrations between people with bad blood to make that happen. But I'll admit to walking on sunshine today, because something I passed on to the world made someone who'd lost faith in that world decide to speak up. It's a small thing, but to me any positive is a great thing.