I've been a little worried lately that my constant anger at the people trying to wage war against us was doing almost as much damage to me as my depression did. Years of seeing zombies kill and maim people I care about and having to kill myself wore me down. In just the last month I've been able to move from that fragile state to where I am now, but I'm not blind to the facts. I've always had a bad temper, and it's emotionally exhausting to stay as angry as I have these last few weeks.
But it provides a sort of mental shield, you know? When you're furious enough the details don't sink in. You don't let the natural empathy creep in. It makes you burn hot but make decisions cold. I've needed that. Being forced to push myself out of the funk I was in meant doing what was needed to get by. I began to worry that I was cutting myself off from all the good parts of myself as well. Jess has pointed out fairly often lately how distant I've been. More than one of my friends have seen that as well. I haven't been interested in the stories that matter. People and their lives.
They aren't wrong. The problem I've had is that we have to strike a delicate balance between the hard hearts to deal with the challenges at hand and remembering the reason we make those choices in the first place.
I went to the hospital yesterday to help get our newest arrivals settled in, and it helped me remember. Before, that place was a mess. An empty shell that once served as a haven for those who needed help. Funny that before The Fall most of us disliked hospitals, maybe found them cold and sterile or even frightening. Now I look back and realize in amazement that there was an entire sector of our civilization dedicated to healing people. Maybe not out of altruism, but it was there.
The lifeless husk that had been the hospital was filled with people. Mostly young to middle-aged, but a few older folks were there. And kids. So many kids. I spent a lot of time on what used to be the pediatric floor playing with children. Safe, inside a building strong enough to withstand a small aircraft flying into it, we were carefree for a time. I laughed and got to be myself without any layers or barriers. Just me and those boys and girls reading together or playing with trucks and dolls. It was so great.
Some of you out there aren't in the situation we've been dealing with. God bless you for that. You're lucky. I hope you never make yourselves a target as we have, never have to fight a war on three fronts. But because you aren't waging those battles, it can be hard to understand exactly what drives us. What drives me.
I was depressed and almost gave in to the worst urges. I've always been mentally resilient, and dealing with bouts of depression most of my adult life has given me a lot of practice bouncing back. This time around, the shock of the violence around me helped, and I clung to the rage it gave me. It was a lifeline I climbed to reach a place of relative balance.
But let me be clear. I'm not angry right now. I'm perfectly calm. I say this with sincerity and clear conscience.
If a person or a group or a town full of people were to threaten those children--or anyone else in my community--I would kill them. Without hesitation. I wouldn't give warning or try to be 'honorable' or 'fair' about it. In that situation those words have no meaning at all. I would do it in whatever way I could, through any means that would be safe for me and effective.
It's that simple. No matter how many times I've said it over the years, and I will keep saying it though the words fall on deaf ears, it remains true. If you leave us alone, we're no threat to you. Move against us, against what we're building here, and I will murder you and anyone who might take revenge for that murder. I'm not just speaking for myself, you should know. This is New Haven's position. As far as the council and the population are concerned, uninvited aggression from outsiders can only be met with as much force in return as possible. There are no rules after that. Bullets, knives, traps, poison, weapons of mass destruction. They're all fair game.
Because doing those same old deeply stupid things means you aren't fit to survive in this world. There's enough land to go around. Farm on it. Build things you need. Eke out a living. Do it in peace and you might get help. But attack, try to take what isn't yours and endanger our people?
You're worse than the zombies after that. The undead don't have a choice. You do. Once you cross that line there is no going back. I say this without malice or spite. You don't kill a rabid dog because you hate it. I do hate many of our enemies, but allowing them to retreat and live in peace would be an option...except that the Exiles taught us how foolish that choice is. No, you kill that rabid dog because even if all you feel is sadness and love for it, eventually it'll bite you. Or your child. It will do damage that might be irreversible.
And that's not acceptable. Not in the least. We will burn out the enemies who want to harm us, excise them from the Earth root and branch. To do any less would be a crime against our people old and new. We will do this not despite our humanity, but because of it.