Since Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: the Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil was published, I've been asked many times about security. I cover it in the book, my ideas on it, but my suggestions go contrary to what most people think of when they think of safety in TEOTWAWKI-scenrios.
There have been a lot of people who want to argue the point with me, and I'm not, necessarily, interested in arguing it, because it's not really something we can know until it happens. One of us will be wrong and one of us will be right, but at that point, all that will matter is who was right, and if it's not me, I will suffer the consequences of my ignorance.
The burning question is: when TSHTF will there be groups of mauraders bent of violence and destruction roaming the land and terrorizing the people?
My answer is there may be a few, but I believe those types of people will be the exception, rather than the norm. Mostly, I believe that people will come together in small, supportive groups - whether those groups form from neighbors or from nomads doesn't matter. What matters is that humans are social animals, that we prefer peace to war, and that worstcase scenarios as often bring out the good in people as the bad.
New York City and New Jersey were pummeled by Hurricane Sandy. The pictures show widespread destruction, and I think those of us who don't live there and don't have family in the area haven't even begun to see the scope of the damage. From some sources, it seems on the scale of Hurricane Katrina.
I've been to New York City, and while there were a few kind people (by comparison), mostly people were just neutral, apathetic. They weren't unkind, and neither were they friendly. One woman in a hurry to get to wherever it was that she really needed to be and pulling a rolling suitcase down the crowded sidewalk, actually rolled her suitcase over my foot. She never even looked back.
What I'm seeing now, though, in the face of this disaster, is people reaching out a helping hand to other people. There's the picture of the power cords hanging on the fence with a sign that says, "I have power. Charge your cellphones." And there was a person in one of the devastated neighborhoods who organized a movie night for his neighbors who didn't have power. He had a generator. It ended up being an old-fashioned block party, with snacks and movies and a bonfire. Everyone shared what they could, and everyone benefitted from the generosity of the neighbor with the generator.
Those stories are the ones that make me secure in my PollyAnna beliefs that most of us won't ever be faced with the gun-toting lunatics, and that as we slide deeper into this life of less, that neighbors will become neighbors. We don't have to agree with them, but we will learn tolerance - for each other - and we will learn to depend on and support each other.
Today, I am thankful for the reminders, from the worst hit areas in this most recent disaster, that humans can and often are human, that in the face of adversity, we are just as likely to reach out a helping hand as not. It's what I've always believed, and it's comforting to have my deepest held beliefs validated by reality.