Utopian Apocalypses


I just finished reading Sebastian Junger’s Tribe. It’s about soldiers returning home, PTSD, and life in various war zones. He brings up something I’ve heard repeated in other books about catastrophes: that people tend to reliably help others when bad shit happens, even when that person isn’t a part of their immediate in-group.

We saw this play out all last week in Baton Rouge, a place the media tells us is about to explode into police inflamed racial violence. The flooding there is bad as it gets without needing to build a zoo sized boat. But people were not squared off with AR-15s and machetes fighting over bottled water and gasoline. They came to each others’ aid and, for the most part, did the right thing.

The Cajun Navy, an autonomous volunteer rescue crew of citizens with small boats, mobilized quickly and rescued any and all who needed rescuing. People from all races came together and helped each other. My old friend Mike Couste and a bunch of his fellow cooks from New Orleans have been spending their time and money to cook good hot meals for people who lost everything.

It happens over and over again that disaster brings out the best in people. Which got me thinking. Wouldn’t a more realistic zombie apocalypse show people getting super serious about helping each other and thrashing the undead? If typhoons and hurricanes and other assorted mishaps have demonstrated anything, it’s that humans know how to cowboy the fuck up when necessary.

When they start rebuilding society and electing leaders? Well, that’s a different story.



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