CONVERSATION PIECES XVIII: THE SURVIVOR
By: Wayne Brown
It is this time of day that I like best; always has been. The world seems so much less complicated about the time that the sun is rising on a new day. Maybe it is because so many of those who complicate and ruin the world around us are still fast asleep causing little or no trouble. At any rate, now more than ever I appreciate this time of day the most. Sadly, it only lasts for a little while then I have to get to the business at hand.
Here I sit in the 21st Century at the mouth of a cave watching the sun rise slowly into the morning sky; loving the pinks and gold of its new birth on the day. It seems an unlikely place for a man this day and age and it certainly is not a place that ever figured into my grand plan at any time. It is simply a reality of what man brings upon the world in this life. I should be happy considering the fact that I am a survivor; at least for now anyway.
Turn back the clock a few years and look back at my existence. At that point in time, if someone had told me that I would be living alone in a cave carved into the hillside scouring the earth each day to eke out an existence, I would have laughed in their face. Certainly I was a realist but not a doomsday type at all. I believed in the system. I could not see it ever failing and turning back the hands of time by centuries. You might say that I got blind-sided by the event because I refuse to acknowledge the signs.
The world began to crumble financially, ethically, morally, and structurally in the early decades of the 21st century. I was a young man then and a successful one with a good job and a great future it seemed. I was married to a fantastic woman who I loved dearly. We had children and eventually grandchildren who were scattered by the winds of opportunity and achievement to the various regions of the USA. We were staring retirement right in the face and looking forward to it when things began to go south.
The government was out of control and pretty much in the hands of the social welfare types who had put environment and social welfare ahead of the general needs of society. Spending was not of control to the point that the government had a far greater demand for money than the private sector. Other countries had long since fallen by the wayside and the USA was on the same road although it was taking longer to get there mainly because we had been such a strong nation in the beginning. The spending continued and the government just started printing money to accommodate its own needs using the rationale that it was doing the “best thing for the people”. There was no other source of money; those sources had long since failed and dried up.
At first it was the small business that fell out of the mix one by one, town by town, city by city. Then the failures expanded to larger businesses and then into the banking sector which held the burden of the debt owed by the businesses who had already mortgaged their future in the hope of just hanging on until times got better. Everyone wanted to believe that times would get better although the loss of jobs and individual income grew by the day. Families fell into disarray as a result of lost incomes. Homes were lost or deteriorated to the point of not being livable. It was not uncommon to see people living in a house with no electricity or water. The infrastructure was falling apart slowly but surely and most of us just turned a blind eye wanting to believe differently.
My wife and I had money saved, retirement plans, etc…the things we would need in our golden years to get by. Even though things were getting bad around us, we continued to look to the future still feeling secure in what we had and our plans for retirement. Then, in the blink of an eye, we were both without a job as the companies we had both worked at for years fell into financial troubles and closed their doors. Suddenly our finances and plans for the future were in jeopardy. At that point, reality set in and we began to grasp what was happening around it. Unfortunately it was too late to do much about it if anything could be done. You see, the problem was far too big for us alone to solve.
As time passed the situation escalated significantly around the country as the population of “have-nots” far exceed that of the “haves”. People became desperate as they began looking for new ways to survive. The government had long since lost its ability to provide a welfare-net for all those who were suffering hard times. Folks were on their own. Their neighbors were in the same boat. No one could look out for others as they were far too concerned with just looking out for themselves and their family.
The streets became more and more violent as more businesses failed. Desperation drove people to loot for food and basic needs. Violence began to escalate as the supply of items decreased with no source to replace them. Soon, one man was willing to kill another over an ear of corn, or some form of fresh meat. Survival and animal instincts took over and property rights were ignored. The world was headed back into the dark ages of time. Initially, the government attempted to use local police forces and the military to quell the unrest. That effort was temporary as the conflict spread across regions. Soon the military and the local authorities were simply overwhelmed. The reality that our system had existed all these years as a function of law-abiding people was becoming readily apparent.
My wife and I got by better than some and I tried to keep my attitude as positive as possible but that all changed in the blink of an eye. I had left my wife at home and gone out seeking to find some place that maybe I could work in trade for food and essential items. When I returned home, our house had been over-run by a street gang, looted; then burned to the ground. For a few cans of soup, this gang had destroyed my home, injured my wife and left her to burn to ashes with the rest of our home. In that moment, my perspective changed from one of cautious optimism to outright survival.
By this time, I carried a sawed-off 12 gauge pump shotgun; basically a police riot special. I also wore a western-style holster with a 22-caliber revolver in it. It was not the best or the strongest firepower but it worked and there was still plenty of ammunition about to keep me armed. The 22 pistol did not have a lot of stopping power but it made up for the difference with the accuracy. I could at least hit things at some distance which was a lot more than I could say for most of the folks running around with larger caliber pistols. At the same time, they also far more trouble finding ammunition.
My military training kicked in as did my animal instincts for survival. I moved out of the city and into the foothills getting away from the larger populations and a considerable amount of the desperation. Many of the city dwellers were totally dependent on looting and killing to achieve their needs. They knew nothing else. I had some survival training under my belt and at least some knowledge of how to hunt, fish, and garden. I figured that I could keep myself alive out in the countryside better than on the streets of the city.
That was three years ago. In the process, I found this cave and set up a homestead. I raise a few garden vegetables and I hunt small game for my survival. As time passes, I encounter more and more people out here. Roaming bands move about surviving only by the numbers and the methods they employ to violently overrun anything they find of use. Death and destruction lies in their path. They have no skill at survival and no desire to develop any as long as they can take from someone else. Even in the crudest of cultures, there are still those who want to survive off the backs of the producers. From what I can see there are far more “takers” than producers out here. It is just a matter of time before they find me and disrupt my situation.
I long since came to terms with killing other people not so much out of desire but out of necessity. One thing that I have come to realize out of all of this is that the good Lord only gave us three things to survive upon in this life…faith, trust, and love. The humanity that I see around me is too hungry to possess any of those traits at this point. Given that premise, civilization is lost and mankind’s ability to recreate it is lost as well. That is the reality of it when human abilities are buried beneath animal instincts for survival. Man is killing man to get what he desires. On that basis, I have no qualms about using this 12-guage or the pistol if it means that I walk away and survive another day. That is what a survivor does. Maybe if I can live long enough, I can outlive this desperation and animal behavior; maybe I can be the seed that replants humanity and helps to restore the faith, trust, and love that is so necessary for mankind to exist in harmony. At present, all of that is just a pipedream that rambles through my head as I hold my morning ritual over the event of sunrise.
For the time, I hold the high ground and I can see trouble coming from afar. I stand alone only as one man but I still stand and I will do so until I draw my final breathe. No one stands with me; there is no one that I can trust in this world at the present. I fight a solitary battle of survival by day with the resolve that I will resist anyone who tries to take what I have from me. I hunger for companionship and conversation but I am not fool enough to risk my very survival to obtain it. The world is a lonely and dangerous place at the moment offering a basic existence at best. I have come to terms with that reality and I am committed to defending that existence as long as I am capable.
Each day, I openly thank the Lord for granting me one more sunrise although I find myself wondering if I wouldn’t be better off if the sun never rose again on my life. I push those thoughts away as quickly as they come into my head. They have no value. They create nothing but despair and they do nothing in terms of trying to bring faith, trust, and love back to the world. And, they have no value to me, for you see, I am a survivor.
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