MORALITY & SURVIVAL
Survival situations often bring out the very best and worst traits in people. Throughout human history, there are thousands of documented events confirming this. In some instances,groups of people comprised of individuals, risked everything to selflessly help others. An example of this would be the Underground Railroad during the tumultuous time period of the American Civil War. In more recent times, we’ve seen demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia, and other countries in the Middle East where once peaceful protests, under the guise of freedom and basic human rights, end up exposing the dark side of humanity. Rape, murder, senseless violence, looting,etc.
So where do morals and survival intersect? Is an individual faced with a survival situation willing to compromise his or her beliefs to further ones on interest? Mind you, we’re not talking about wants, we’re talking about human needs such as food and water that are essential to life. What would happen if an emergency disrupted food or medicine supplies. It’s easy enough to sit back in the comfort of ones own home and wrestle with where he or she would draw the proverbial moral line, but if you were actually thrust in the middle of a dire emergency, what would it take for these morals to fall by the wayside? A starving family member or friend? An opportunity to better one’s own circumstance at the cost of someone else misfortune?
The whole point of survival and being prepared is to have the mindset, knowledge, and resources to make it through hard times.
These hard times manifest in many shapes and forms. We believe moral erosion would happen to most people in a very short amount of time if the circumstances were dire enough. Even in the US, with it’s social safety nets and vast infrastructure, we’ve all heard horror stories taking place post-hurricane Katrina. There was widespread looting, reports of murder and rape and everything in between. Some of these atrocities were committed by public servants and law enforcement officials, the very individuals sanctioned with upholding a sense of societal order. The point is, when you’re faced with the decision of either standing by your sense of morality and letting yourself, your child, or your spouse die a slow, painful death of starvation, or looting a store, the vast majority of individuals wouldn’t hesitate about looting the store (which probably wouldn’t have any supplies left at that point…). Sure, it’s an extreme example, but it could easily happen. The thin veneer of society could easily be broken, and at that point, it’s every man for himself.
Think about this, if a nuclear bomb, biological/chemical weapon, or something of that nature, were to be detonated in a major US city (or several major US cities), how quickly do you think panic and chaos would set in? On top of the potential tens of thousands of casualties, people in those impacted metro and surrounding regions would have to contend with food shortages, unclean drinking water, inaccessible medical care, etc. As soon as those people realize that all the stores are out of food or that people still drinking the water are becoming sick and dying, they’re going to join the mob mentality of thinking. They’re going to throw away any “morals” they may have had pre-disaster and do whatever it takes to obtain food,water, or shelter. At that point, any faint traces of “civilized humanity” will disappear, only to be replaced by primal fear and chaos.
So where does one draw the line? Is it just a waste of time to think about what you would or wouldn’t do if you were stuck in a survival situation with no way out?
There’s really no right or wrong answers to this one, more of a rhetorical question designed to hopefully promote the concept that when things get tough, those “civilized” people you live next to can quickly become your enemy if you have something they desire.
In the survival community, many individuals have stockpiles of food, water, weapons, etc.; all the things that would be desirable in a catastrophic event. These same people would also be likely targets of mobs, gangs, etc., if something were to ever happen that would disrupt our way of life in the West. Even those in rural communities would be at risk to some degree depending on the severity of the disaster.
If you were in a position to help a starving child or family with some of your stockpiled food reserves, would you? What if meant one less meal for you or your own family? But wouldn’t denying a child or individual in an unfortunate circumstance such as the one just described be immoral? Wouldn’t denying your own family a meal because you chose to help someone else out also be immoral? In the West, even the “poor” probably own a cell phone, are able to access the internet, have food they can obtain from local shelters and government agencies, and are much better off than in days gone by. In the past, if one wasn’t able to hunt or earn his or her meal, he/she simply wouldn’t eat.
There is no summary for this article. There is no right or wrong answer to the question,”how can survival and morality co-exist in a true survival setting involving entire nations and societies?” We can only look to history to gain an understanding that when the going gets tough, many individuals would trade their morality in a heartbeat if it meant the difference between life and death.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not advocating looting or murder to meet ones own basic necessities. We’re merely observing that for the most part, when people are faced with extreme odds, they’ll do whatever it takes to get by. After all, isn’t that the point to survive?
We’d love to hear your 2 cents on this subject, please drop us a comment!