When the world ends

There is something about post apocalyptic fiction that is not true. Well, I mean beyond being fiction. The mechanisms are not true.

Humans as a group don’t look at a situation and go “Oh, it’s over, so now we rebel/despair/throw kittens through basketball hoops.”

That’s not how any of that works.

Even when it’s absolutely clear the world has ended, someone will get up early, because they have to be at work on time. They will do this even if the place the office used to be is now an ash pit.

Even while the world falls around you, you or a friend will cook dinner for the family. Even if dinner is squirrel with grass clippings (I’ve heard of worse from Venezuela.)

This means, in the collective, there is a surreal mixture of normalcy and insanity. Or as I’ve described my most eventful years, when Portugal should have had a revolution and counterrevolution report after the weather report: you are on your way to school, worried about not studying enough for the math test. and you find yourself in the middle of a fighting mob.

One of the masterful things John Ringo did in Black Tide Rising is his people get the code, they flee out to sea…. and then go to NYC because they need to work there for a while. And there’s a concert in Central park. In the middle of the zombie apocalypse.

The world doesn’t end with a bang, but with a whimper. And mostly it doesn’t end at all.

I was going to say perhaps our idea of the end of the world comes from when the raiders would arrive in the night, put man and boy child to the sword and in one night make the women and girl children theirs.

But even that was not a true end. Because you and I have the blood of those women, sure, but more importantly, because those women taught the children bits and pieces of the old language amid the new “so sorry, master, just a slip up” and ways to eat, and ways to cook, and ways to do things.

And more often than not the conquerors ended up conquered, their grandchildren not raiding, but working the land, and respecting the traditions of the people they’d displaced.

The world ends. The world never ends. Go visit a Latin country in Europe and you start to question if Rome ever fell.

So write freedom. Write happiness. Write joy. Write of humanity going to space, thriving.

Refuse the lie of “everyone is dirty.” Refuse the lie of “nothing matters.” Refuse the lie of “Fighting back is wrong.”

In the end, life wins. And the world doesn’t end.

47 comments

  1. I am reminded of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, where the US has fractured into dozens of countries—and people still cross borders to go to work, deliver pizza, and do all the things you do because you’re alive. (It’s not typically described as a post-apocalyptic novel, but I think that’s because people don’t recognize a slow falling-apart and adaptation to be a form of apocalypse.)

        1. no, i dont quite recall needing 30 million dollars to buy something that we pay a few dollars for.

  2. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank was that way.

    The US & the Soviet Union (IIRC in the late 50s) have a nuclear war and life goes on in the setting, a small Florida town.

    IIRC there was only one suicide but that was the Bank Manager who saw himself as Mister Big in that town and saw the collapse of his Bank as the end of the world.

    The vast majority to the town adapted to the new situation.

  3. “Throw kittens through basketball hoops” — ? I’ll have to remember that one for when the world really is about to end. (Not when it’s just ended, for reasons that “should” be “obvious.”)

    I propose that we explore how even a single sufficiently stupid political act could quickly bring about “end of the world” conditions. Here’s my suggestion: Imagine a federal law, duly passed by Congress and signed by the president, that makes it a felony to charge interest on a loan, and which applies retroactively as well as to loans not yet made. Business in the U.S. would cease virtually overnight. Families wouldn’t immediately cease to have dinner…but it wouldn’t take long for the corpses to pile up in the streets.

    Does anyone else have a possible “end of the world” trigger that doesn’t involve Armageddon or the Giant Meteorite of Death? Let’s have ’em!

    1. Oh, I can think of one big, hilarious one.

      The demands to go “carbon neutral” without an alternate source of high-density energy means that a lot of industries in the First World shut down or use a lot of low-power techniques. Lots of electric cars and such replacing gas cars.

      Said low-power techniques are vulnerable to EMP. Massive coronal eruption from the sun bricks a lot of the low-power systems, and the high-power systems can’t be brought back on line quickly. Or at all. (1)

      Then, we get colder and colder winters because all of that nice CO2 was holding off the next ice age and it’s going to be a nasty one…

      (1)-At least until the people trying to enforce carbon-neutrality are buried under a peat bog. Preferably near the glacier line.

      1. My bet is that there will be a carve-out for really large landlords in big urban areas (that are Democrat donors), and they’ll offer local and small landlords pennies on the dollar because it’s either that or have it “expropriated.”

      2. Oh my. Yes, that would fill the gutters with blood, all right…though whose blood isn’t perfectly clear.

        Such a “transfer” would effectively legalize squatting, including the invasion of already-occupied buildings. It wouldn’t take long for the savages to start fighting with one another. And I seriously doubt that “law enforcement” would bother its little head over the mess. Far more likely they’d retreat from the area en masse.

        But perhaps there’d be a rainbow after the bloodstorm. The carnage might prove great enough to essentially eliminate our dependent class. That having been said, I wouldn’t hang around in anticipation of it.

      3. Are you reading the Oregon tea leafs? Despicable Kate Brown now declares rent amnesty until June, with landlords to be paid a pittance out of some imaginary Federal bailout.

        I’m soooooo happy I never went for income property.

        1. No. I know this is coming, because I’ve lived through it.
          My grandmother had put most of her money in rental property and the children ended up having to help her survive.

          1. Yeah, there was a sad story in the NY Post about a black businessman who bought apartment buildings. Now he has Alzheimers, his family can barely support him and can’t pay his medical bills, and the renters refuse to pay any rent while the amnesty is on. Even before this time, he couldn’t evict renters or sue them for their actions, because he couldn’t afford lawyers and they get free ones. The buildings are about to be taken away from his ownership because he can’t pay city fees and taxes, and his family will get no inheritance.

            I’ve been paying rent this whole year like normal, and it’s amazing how polite my landlord and his manager have become. (Not that they were ever nasty to me, but… weirdly polite.) I’m kinda worried about it, actually. I mean, I work at a grocery store, for gosh sake.

      4. Who needs law? My governor in NC has indefinitely suspended evictions. Landlords also receive no state assistance (and maybe none under feds)

      5. Already here with the effect of rent holidays / non-eviction laws on the (mostly small) landlords, who get no break from paymant of taxes, mortgages, or insurance.
        This effect has not yet washed through the foreclosure / bankruptcy processes, so the actual loss of capital / societal wealth from the .gov shutdowns has yet to be estimated or calculated.
        John in Indy

        1. I have literally seen people claim that getting rid of landlords will mean life goes on as before except with no rent.

  4. I hope that we’ll just have a nastier repeat of the ’70s, which shocks a lot of the younger generations into realizing that “these people are nucking futs” and start fighting back and fixing things.

    I want to live through this, I truly do. But, there are ways that I would prefer to die, if it happens. None of them are being loaded into a cattle car.

    1. I’m betting on a nastier and more violent repeat of the 1970s myself.

      But we will adjust. We are stubborn, that way. And maybe having hit bottom, some of our special snowflakes will grow the hell up.

      1. — And maybe having hit bottom, some of our special snowflakes will grow the hell up. —

        Oh, if only. But how likely is it that a…person taught from infancy to regard himself as special, and whose education has consisted of socialist propaganda plus encouragement to believe himself smarter and more moral than us benighted ones, will “see the light?” Isn’t it more likely that he’ll believe the failure of his cherished notions is because we benighted ones sabotaged them? After all, his political idols will surely tell him exactly that!

    2. Yes. The 70s. I lived through that and remember watching my parents worry, but carry on. I remember gas rationing via odd/even license plates and no filling up unless you were below half a tank. Wage and price freezes…damn.

      1. I remember my grandfather in Houston snarling about why did they have gas rationing in “Baghdad on the Bayou” of all places?!?

  5. There’s a guy I read a long time ago who described the “end of the world” in his home country – it might have been Venezuela, but I don’t recall for sure. He said much the same. Some things peter out, other keep going, others warp due to security concerns, but nothing really “ends”, at least not with a bang.
    Could toilet paper shortages be considered a harbinger? Perhaps a better question would be: Should… Anything “could” be considered to be just about anything.

  6. When I wrote the prequel to the Colplatschki stories, what I imagined was some people denying reality, some people fleeing it, and others saying, “Well, this stinks, the power is getting less reliable, tourist income is dropping, so how do we adapt for the long haul?” Granted, this was a colony planet, so “if we get cut off, what if . . . ” was in the back of characters’ minds, but they adapted. Some did better than others. They’re people, it’s what people do.

    1. Very true. The survivors manage, one way or another. Or at least they do if they want to eat for for the day and sleep safely for the night. And the next day and night, and the next and so on.

      Haul water, chop wood, cook meals. The world ends. Haul water, chop wood, cook meals.

  7. I hope people cook meals. I was listening to a nutritionist podcast, and she kept talking about “raw foods” and “minimally processed foods.” And then she took a quick moment to acknowledge that, yes, many foods have to be cooked or processed with chemicals to become available nutrition for humans. And then it was back to “minimally processed,” which apparently means anything you darned well want it to mean.

    I did finally realize that when she talked about corn, she was using that word in the British sense. But I still don’t think you can eat wheat or oats right off the plant, even if you soak them. You have to cook them and mess with them quite a bit, if you want to get all the goodness out of them, and not have it all come out the other end as fiber.

    I hate it when you’re halfway through the first ep of a supposedly educational podcast, and they still haven’t told you a darned thing that is actually useful to know.

    1. I seem to remember a story of some Jewish guys snacking on wheat or some other grain straight off the plant one Saturday … some others said they were “working” on the Sabbath …

      So I think you can eat wheat grains. But bread is more common.

      1. The problem with eating the wheat was picking it first — reaping.

        I believe you have to cook wheat to get enough nourishment, but satiating hunger is easier.

    2. If I start to get really cynical, I think about the new push for “fat is beautiful” in various fashion magazines, the goal of “showing models of every type”-who are all over the place but tend to be “heavy,” the whole “plant-based” diet thing (which is heavy in carbs), and how the production of meat is bad…

      I think our “elites” want to make sure nobody from below sneaks in…because they’re far too heavy to do it. Get rid of the military recruiting base by eliminating an underclass that uses military service to get out of where they are-and might get ideas of rising above their station.

      Makes for an interesting story idea, at least.

    3. Plenty of the folks who talk this ridiculous idiocy about raw foods are totally dependent on the industrial agricultural food complex, bringing them fresh strawberries in January and fresh apples in June. No matter what they claim, they don’t live light on the land and they sure don’t live local because as your latitude gets more and more northern, you descend to a diet of brined cabbages, pulses, roots, beans and biscuits all winter long and you are damned glad to get them.

      Raw and minimally processed work for rich people who don’t do hard, heavy work.

      My father (87) remembers two entire years in North Dakota in the 30’s where they ate nothing but beans and biscuits. And they were on a farm!

      Real, daily peasant cooking is much the same, day after day. Cookbooks are full of festival food. Nobody in the past in the real world eats that rich every day, unless they were rich.

  8. Sarah, I never post anything, ever, anywhere, but I want you to know much I appreciate your posts. You are a fierce treasure.

  9. “Refuse the lie of ‘Fighting back is wrong.'”

    That’s the big one. The other two can be quibbled about, especially when “Utopia is not an option” is not a lie. But “Fighting back is wrong” is the chief poison of the totalitarians. Swallow it, and you’ve just accepted their authority to kill you whenever they mouth the words “For the greater good.”

  10. “Refuse the lie of ‘Fighting back is wrong.’”
    ^^^ THIS ^^^ a thousandfold.

    I just did one of my rare “letters to the editor” in response to a headline “Patriots Do Not Storm Their Nation’s Capitol.” I informed the author of that swill that he had written something that would have made Mussolini smile. The Capitol is the seat of GOVERNMENT. A patriot owes his FIRST allegiance to the nation, NOT the government. And if that government gets too big for it’s britches?

    It is the DUTY of the patriot to alter or abolish it. A duty that very well may involve storming the nation’s capitol.

    I’m not even going to go into the red haze that starts to rise every time I hear or read “violence is never the answer” or “violence never solved anything.” I give actual, declared pacifists who have demonstrated a clear understanding of the implications of that a “pass on principle grounds, even though they are wrong”, but anybody else who says it? Instantly catalogued as fool and/or coward. I only hope that whatever misery their feckless idiocy brings upon others is visited thrice upon them.

    1. I went to college the second time with some Mennonites and a Quaker. It was interesting talking to them about military history and other stuff. They accepted the cost and realities of being true pacifists, and what that often led/leads to. I admire their spiritual determination. I disagree with some of their thinking and interpretations of Scripture.

      1. And there are different types of Conscientious Objector. Some are unwilling to do anything that might lead to them killing another, but if the cause is right will serve in non-combat roles (medics etc.). Others will have nothing whatsoever to do with the military effort irrespective of the cause.
        During both world wars both types were often conflated with cowards – not helped by there being a number of stories of cowards who falsely claimed to be conscientious objectors to avoid being conscripted. Nonetheless, genuine conscientious objection of both types in those situations requires courage – the easy route is to swallow one’s principles and accept conscription.
        These issues were partially explored in an episode of Dad’s Army. It came out that one of the characters had been a “Conchie” in the first world war, and was shunned by his comrades. During an exercise later in the episode he went back into a smoke-filled building to rescue someone who hadn’t got out. During his recuperation it came out that he’d been a medic during the war, and had a medal for bravery under fire. He was swiftly appointed the unit medic.

  11. “…dinner is squirrel with grass clippings (I’ve heard of worse from Venezuela.)”

    I’ve eaten it without even grass. Pretty good, actually. Although I had barely eaten in 3 days so my judgement might have been off.

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