So for all intents and purposes, the war with the UAS is over. And not only is it over, but the leadership of the UAS has been deposed. People have asked me how I feel about that. That question is second only to people asking me which senators, congressmen, and justices made up the UAS leadership. I’ve gotten knowing smirks from people talking about how those godless liberals didn’t know how to handle the real world once society crumbled, while others smirk about how those damned conservatives probably thought The Fall was a dream come true because now they could strip away all our freedoms. In a world filled with zombies and marauders, people are still playing politics. It’s really quite incredible how so profoundly people can miss the point.
The truth is that I don’t know who, specifically, was ruling the UAS. I’m sure I might have heard a name or two, but it never stuck with me. It’s not like I had every member of the House and Senate committed to memory. And I came late to the UAS anyway. They were already starting to set up shop when I arrived, though they hadn’t started their expansion in earnest yet. People keep asking me, though. So just for convenience, I’m going to assume the senior guy was probably named The Right Honorable Old Whitey McJowlface Esq., Senator of the Great State of Clueless Denial.
People are really thrilled around here that Old Whitey and his homies got deposed. I’ve heard that communities in the Western Territories were actually dancing in the streets and breaking out what few fireworks survived their scavengers. And that makes sense. Obviously the Union and Haven have been the major focus, but never forget that the UAS had to go through the West to get to us. The West dealt with some serious opposition. But yeah, people here are thrilled. Everyone is talking about how much the UAS leadership deserved worse than being deposed. And of course you get the occasional macho man who talks about how he wants to go out to UAS territory and execute Old Whitey and his pals himself.
The less bro-tastic denizens of Haven, though, tend to ask me yet another common question: “What was wrong with those people?” If anyone out there is a therapist or ever studied psychology, you know that’s a question you get all the time. Any time something horrible happens on the news, people ask, even though they tend to already have their opinions formed on whether or not the person was actually mentally ill or just a bad seed (however they define that). Michael Jackson was always the favorite subject of those questions. It’s second only to the ever favorite and oh-so-original, “You’re psychoanalyzing me right now, aren’t you?” joke. People always think they’re so clever.
So here’s the answer, and I think it may actually help people come to terms with some of what has occurred. There was nothing wrong with these people. Old Whitey and his cronies were probably completely mentally sound, and if they did have mental illness, it wasn’t to blame for their behaviors. It’s really interesting to me how people view mental illness. One out of four people in the World That Was had some diagnosable mental illness, from mild to severe. That number may have climbed due to the fact we’ve all been traumatized and about one out of every three people who experience trauma come away with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the World That Was, people tried to ignore mental illness. It skeeved them out. I always believed it was the fear that it could happen to them that so frightened people. So society ignored, or discriminated, or went on tirades about how mental illness was just a plot by Big Pharma (because it’s too hard to say pharmaceutical, I guess). Those conspiracy theorists would claim mental illness existed only to sell meds, while conveniently ignoring the fact that Lipitor commercials made up about 90% of their television viewing experience. Mental illness was only for the damaged and weak-willed. Until something horrible happened. Then suddenly it’s all, “What was wrong with that guy? That’s not normal!” So people spent most of their life ignoring mental illness until they realize that a “normal” person can do horrible things. Now it’s time to use mental illness as an excuse so that they don’t have to acknowledge their own dark side. The dark side that lives in all of us. And that’s what I’m seeing now.
So I’ll say it again. There was nothing mentally wrong with these politicians. Maybe some mild narcissism, but if I elected you to help lead the Free World, you’d probably be a bit full of yourself too. Old Whitey and friends weren’t sociopaths like the marauders who recognized that the loss of all laws and authority gave them free reign to enact their darkest impulses. No, these guys were regular people whose power allowed them to survive the apocalypse. And yet, they had no real power over their food running out. And when they left that bunker, they learned they had no power over the walking dead and that society had to be rebuilt. I don’t care what your political beliefs were, the death of society is a great equalizer. So they went into full blown panic mode, just as we all did. We’ve all done horrible things in our past. Even to survive, we’ve done things we wouldn’t have done in the past, like loot houses and stores, never wondering if someone was coming back for that stuff or needed it more than us. We survive. We’ve stolen to survive, we’ve killed to survive.
Luckily for us, we are all so unimportant in the grand scheme that our moments of panic were not seen as a leadership mandate. They weren’t put on a national stage for others to see and judge. At our darkest, did we really do anything that much worse than the UAS? I’m not sure I can make that claim. Josh already talked years ago about how he was ready to start a witch hunt when his mother died. People were able to remove him from power, but imagine if Josh, in that moment of panic, had the power of an elected official from the World That Was and ruled an entire army. The history of Haven would have been much bloodier. For my own part, I’m thankful I didn’t have an army to back me up while I was still trying to find my way, so my actions went largely unnoticed by the other survivor camps. Old Whitey and his bros didn’t have that luxury. They panicked and people died. So many people.
And now they’re deposed and living as one of the little people. According to the laws we’ve created in this brave new world, do these deposed leaders warrant execution? Yes. But what are you going to do about it? Ask the UAS for extradition? Remember, they committed crimes against the citizens of the UAS. Not only did they get their own people killed in a pointless war (at greater levels than we lost it would seem) but they also used their position to spread lies and propaganda. Their crimes against the UAS are arguably more heinous than those against the West or the Union. And the UAS judged them and sentenced them. This is done now. Then again, it wouldn’t surprise me if, not long after Kincaid leaves Haven, Old Whitey and his buds are found dead, strangled to death with their own entrails.
But really, we don’t need that. I think this punishment is incredibly severe, to the point of being cruel and unusual. Put yourself in their position. You had power. Maybe you even had the ear of the president or your political party. Then one day all hell breaks loose, the world becomes a Romero film, and you’re shoved into a crowded bunker for a couple years. When you come out, your national influence is gone. All you have of your identity is what little power you wield in your community. So you try to recapture that past glory and people reject you. You try to seize that power by force and you fail miserably and see your own people die as a result. And now you’ve lost the trust of your own citizens and you’re deposed. You now have nothing. The only job you’ve ever really held is lost to you. The skills you had of debate, of glad-handing people, of creating policy is now ruined because no one will give you the time of day. You’ve gone from shaping a nation to not even having enough influence to organize a sock hop. You get to sit in a community, knowing you are no good to those around you, facing scorn and hatred, and watching as others rebuild the world, the world that once was yours.
The punishment for these ex-leaders is nothing short of psychological torture. I, for one, pity them. And all you others out there who can truthfully admit to yourself that you understand the fears that drove these lost human beings owe them your pity too.