Sunday, March 3, 2013

Once Burned

I would like to say that once burned, people would learn not to play with fire. What's left of humanity might be strong and fit and smart in general, but we're just as prone to stupid decisions as ever. The UAS is proof of that; they're working on a huge offensive which appears to be happening in three directions: the east, toward us. The West, toward the groups there that also includes Ketill and his small army, and to the north of the main UAS encampments.

We're not sure where the people are coming from, but our intelligence is showing us increasing numbers at the far southern UAS camps. If the rate of new arrivals keeps up this pace they'll match the population of the Union in a few weeks. If it keeps going beyond that, we'll be dealing with a larger force for the first time since The Fall began.

Things aren't looking good for that whole 'avoiding fights' thing I was advocating, but it's not all bleak. We're not stupid enough to go out and engage on their terms, and defending is always easier than attacking.

On a larger scale the situation doesn't look as bad for other reasons. I find myself pleasantly surprised to see many of the people in New Haven continuing on with their lives in a more relaxed way than recent events would have led me to believe was possible. A few have stopped by here to tell me how much they liked the last few posts, that it helped them realize the importance of normality in our everyday lives no matter what threats hang over our heads.

And honestly, those folks made me realize that they knew that lesson better than me. One lady pointed out that we've acclimated to the stress of zombie attacks so well that they've become routine, almost like background noise. Where once we panicked and lived under a load of stress that nearly drove us all batty, now we have a calm and reasoned response developed over time.

It takes conscious effort to constantly self-correct our thoughts and actions. There are of course still those who want to react and react quickly--to run out and end the threat, to die in glory in defense of our people and our way of life. I don't degrade that impulse at all; I've felt it within the last two weeks. It's understandable and in my eyes at least, a noble urge.

Just not a successful long-term strategy. As hard as it is for many of us, the key to winning this fight is to avoid having it for as long as we can. Digging in, expanding our manufacturing capabilities, our infrastructure, our food stocks, our defensive measures, all of those things are going to be a greater set of tools and do more for our survival than any proactive attack.

I sit here at my desk and look at a small statuette my mom gave me when I was a teenager. It's this slickly glazed unicorn rearing up into the air, pearlescent and shiny. I make sure to dust it regularly, which makes it unique in my house.

Mom was obsessive about wanting me to make a birthday list. She wanted a gift to be something I truly wanted, something I'd cherish. Contrariwise, I've always had a hard time listing out things I want. I used to see a thing on a shelf and say, "I'd love that!" and then forget about it. So most of the time I asked for art supplies (this during the time before I finally gave up on drawing because of how terrible I was at it) and associated doodads. That year, however, mom insisted I add something else. Something special.

Because I learned to be a smartass from her, the very best I've ever met, I jokingly wrote "Unicorn" and put stars next to it.

Having totally forgot about the list, my birthday rolled around. My last gift was a small box, carefully wrapped with one of the fancy hand-made bows mom saved for important things. I opened it, and inside sat this little white unicorn statuette. Maybe six inches tall, it would have been at home in the bedroom of any girl of ten. At first I was confused, but also amused, and when I looked up at her with an eyebrow cocked, she handed me the birthday list. All the items were checked off, including the unicorn.

She just thought it was funny and clever, and it was. I never would have expected her to fulfill my sarcastic wish, even in an equally sarcastic way. Mom was unpredictable like that.

But I kept that little shiny guy around for a lot of reasons. It was a reminder that my mother loved me--and now that she's gone, a reminder of how deeply that love ran--but it was also a lesson. Never hope for the moon and stars, but also never deny yourself the right to wish for them. Never let wonder and the possibility of miracles become forgotten things inside. Because while the things you dream for might not come to be in the way you imagine, sometimes they do come true regardless.

Even little jokes can lead to important lessons. We are faced with the likelihood of war on a scale that we might all perish. We hope for a solution that allows us a chance to live in true peace and safety so that we might carry on the legacy we've been building.

If my unicorn story only makes you smile, that's enough. If it helps you keep hope alive that we make it through this crisis, so much the better. I honestly feel there has to be a way. It may not be how we imagine it, but the possibility exists. There is no parent to hand it to us, this go round. It's on us to search it out.

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