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How far will you go to survive?

This is a question which is stuck in my head. Most books and movies (stories in general) deliver a "romantic" (fined) picture of such situation.

Post-apocalyptic setting: Bonfire. People help each other. Heros who defend their loved ones.

Since I was a boy I always have loved the picture of me beeing an adventurer. But actually it is very hard to survive. Movies end after 2 hours, books last a bit longer. Reality last 24/7 365 days a year. No warm water, no fridge or supermarket, no "I am bored. Let’s search the internet for cats and baby fotos."

Let’s talk about the other side.

These days most of us talk about bearded and strong men with weapons when it comes to survival stuff. But what about the women out there? Some of them have kids and no strong man on their side. How they get their food? Keep that question in mind when you read my next haiku:

Your soft skin - solace.

Mesmerized by that feeling.

My last food is yours.

What are your thoughts about the people that have no strong survival beard near them? I live in Switzerland but a big part of my family lives in Germany (grandparents). What about the people who need a special medicine on a daily basis? Who helps them?

Share your inconvenient thoughts / questions / situations.

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What does it take to be a hero?

Let’s say you see a man with a gun threats a woman. He wants some "love" from her. Or maybe just some food. Would you help the woman? Why? Why not?

Or what if someone came to help the woman but the man with the gun pulls the trigger. The second man dies. Is he a hero or just an idiot?

And what if the guy with the gun is a desperate father and his last chance is to threat other weak people?

My personal opinion: I am indecisive. I like to help people. But I am not sure, how I would react in this situation.

I had the situation before where a guy screamed at his girlfriend. It was 02:00 am. He was shortly before to beat her. She was very scared. My friend, who was with me, stood in front of the guy and talk very loud and clear to him. "I am about to call the police." In the end we could not help the girl because she didn’t want our help. Poor girl.

I am still impressed by my friend because normally he is very cautious. But that time he stood up for the weak.

Are you a hero? Or do you know someone who is one? Share your story.

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The word "hero" is a bit difficult, because usually, the people we call heroes just consider that they did what had to be done in that situation. Like my paternal grandfather, who fought in all of the three wars Finland has been involved in after gaining independence. He went to war (volunteered for the first one), did his duty, and fortunately came back (physically) unhurt every time. He didn't consider himself a hero, although he had a wife and 7 children and had to start life from scratch on the other side of the country after losing the farm in the part of the country we lost in the war. He wouldn't have used the word "survival" either, but that is what their life was for a long time.

A more recent example would be my mother. This happened about 25 years ago. Mom has always been very short and at the time, she was also very thin. Still she took a fire extinguisher and went in to try to put out a fire at her work place, because the fire service would take 45 minutes to arrive. She didn't succeed, because although the fire was in one spot, it was already too hot to get close enough. She got burns in her hand and my dad said it was stupid to even try, but mom just said she thought that there was still a chance to put out the fire before it spread.

I have never been in a situation where helping someone else would pose a danger to myself, so I have no idea what I would do. I can only hope I wouldn't be frozen by indecision, but would do what needs to be done.

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Lets look at post apocalypse as a new era, era where people who survive are probably the only ones worth being alive anyway.

If you are a person like myself, you will use, hurt, deceive and basically do whatever it takes to stay alive like any other sociopath. That is one way.

Another one is with a military background where you can handle yourself in tough situations and you can probably survive very difficult encounters.

Now come the women and children. If you ask me, their best bet is with a bigger group with several men who know what they are doing. Its easy to say "you're being sexist stfu" but its true, a rare woman will know how to handle herself in the post apocalypse without help.

Since I cannot develop empathy I am probably the worst kind of survivor where I help only the ones that can help me, similar to how businesses are managed. I cannot care for someone so if they fail to provide a reason for me to help them, I simply do not.

People who need medicine and weaker ones are unfortunately screwed if they are with me. If they are with someone else who can care, they will probably survive a bit longer.

That is how I look at things!

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A survival situation, a long term one like posited by the long dark, is ultimately about scarcity. Scarcity drives the conflicts. More people need X than there is X to go around. This is one of the many problems that can only be solved with violence and death.

No, really. There simply isn't a solution that doesn't involve people dying. That's just how it is, and yeah, that probably sucks, unless you really just hate those people and want them to die for whatever reason, or just don't care at all about them.

I say X, because it might be food, or water, or any number of things. People who need things beyond the norm, insulin for example, well, they're going to die, soon. They need something to survive, and it simply isn't available, or going to be. Guess what that means?

Heroes will die, and so will cowards, monsters, and even the people who never get the opportunity to be any of them, and I don't mean of old age. The survivors answer to the question of do I endanger myself to help another really is to ask: What's in it for me?

The first dirty little secret is that its not just sociopaths who ask that. It's even the most empathetic of us. The extremes just weigh things differently. The sociopath cares only about tangibles, while the empath doesn't weigh those anywhere near as much as they do raw emotion. There are ups and downs to stepping in, and to not doing so.

In a survival situation, where you have the posited "big man" threatening the "helpless woman," I have to ask, who is more valuable to me, and why? Or, like a cold bastard, do I decide that the best action is to kill them both? It all depends on how I weight what, what do I consider the best outcome, how badly do I need new boots, what's the relative value of another man versus a clearly, in this circumstance weaker, woman? Who could I more easily get to aid me? Does the thought of just having helped the weaker party restore my will to go on? There are hundreds of questions, all of which have to be assessed in a moment. The amazing thing is, we can actually do that.

Yeah, its a skill, indecision happens because we're bad at rapid assessment, we don't have a library of if/then statements in our head to help, or any number of other reasons, but indecision is a really, really bad thing in a survival situation. He who hesitates is lost. He may well loose his life. To quote a monster, loosely, any action is better than none at all.

That's the second dirty little secret. Sometimes, the monsters are right. Sometimes, the monsters are heroes, and sometimes the heroes are monsters. That's just the way it is.

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I really don't know how I would act. I know I would want to take any possible action to protect my family, but if I was separated from my family and trying to make it back to them, would I take any risks? I normally think of myself as a good guy, I stop on the interstate to help stranded motorists, I give money/food to those who need it, and I don't normally stand around when someone else is being threatened, but if putting myself out there like that meant I may never see my family again, I can't say I would act the same. In a world like the one presented in TLD, I think anytime you veered from your main goal of survival to help someone else, you are risking something bad happening to yourself, even if that is losing out on some food or clothing you may give to someone so that they will survive. Of course if I was separated from my family, I would be hoping that someone was helping them, wherever they were.

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  • 10 months later...
I normally think of myself as a good guy, I stop on the interstate to help stranded motorists.

The one time I helped a hitchhiker, was on christmas day after visiting family. Because of the time of year I had extra money on me, I was in a happy mood.

I should have realized the guy was a mug after a couple a minutes, using good old-fashioned bias prejudice judgement of his appearance. He robbed all $500 from me. I have never picked up a hitchhiker since.

This is a true story. An outcome where being nice to help someone caused a loss of resources.

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  • 1 month later...

I would really hope that I would have the courage to help anybody in need. I think most of the time in a situation where civilization is fragmented, people start to think as if all other humans are people who are either a danger or who need something from you, but I think often the case is that, like in today's society, most people are on equal footing. Most people aren't survival buffs, most people aren't weak, needy, little kittens. Most people are train drivers, nurses, mechanics, businessmen. Our evolutionary ancestors, primates, live together because almost everyone benefits from the group.

If I was in a situation, vis a vis something like TLD, if I saw another person I wouldn't think: oh dear another moral dilemma to solve, I'd think oh thank god another person. Smart people know that MOST of the time, certainly not all, working together means better odds of not only survival, but comfort and prosperity for everyone. If people want to argue that you can be perfectly happy without human contact and will shoot people on sight for their boots, like a DayZ player, well then damn, I don't know how to get through to those people.

At the end of the day, I think the best world is a world where we all work together, so I hope I'd have the courage to be a good person in the post-apocalyptic world.

Also one where there's ample rifles and munitions to kill fluffy.

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I find this concept to be interesting, especially the dynamic of the empathetic individual versus the self-proclaimed sociopath. There is a third type of individual that has not yet been discussed. He is governed neither by pragmatism nor emotion. His decision making will be based solely upon a set of morals. In the above situation with the weak woman and the strong man, no doubt intervention would be the only acceptable action, per the man's sense of morality. Whether this type of individual is a survivor is up for debate, but I know this: I would want a man like that watching my back.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There are no heroes in a post-apocalyptic situation where resource scarcity is a reality. Starving people will do anything to get food or other supplies they or their families desperately need, up to and including murdering other people.

I suppose the closest one can get to being a hero in that situation is refusing to compromise your ethics (robbing or murdering others for their supplies) even in the face of death. Or maybe it's when you give up some of what little you have to help a stranger (like the little boy giving food to the old man towards the end of The Road).

As for OP's question about people without a "survivalbeard" to provide for them, women and children and elderly and people who need special medications... well, unfortunately they tend to be part of the 95% or whatever of the population that dies off as resource scarcity increases in the months after an apocalyptic event (unless they are very lucky and do have someone strong and capable to help provide for them). It wouldn't really be an apocalypse if that were not the case.

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Don't you think maybe 'there would not be many heroes' would be more appropriate? I mean, it's hard for any one person to say what the entirety of the rest of the world would do in any one situation.

Most of the people who would want to be heroes would die along with the rest of the bulk of the population by virtue of the fact they would not be willing to do bad things but surrounded by people who are. Of course there would be exceptions... but not many.

To get any more specific we'd need to define the apocalyptic scenario being discussed.

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I think you're right, being a hero by nature means putting yourself out there, getting in the way of risk. Nobody said being a hero was easy, including me. To be fair, I think those who don't put themselves out there for others also put themselves at risk, as as I stated in my previous post people in themselves are a resource, and the more you have access to, the more skills and labour you have access to.

I think what's a really interesting question is when being a hero is actually simply being selfish, you know? At what point does charity becoming ego-preening. I realize that's a different issue. Sort of related I suppose.

Anyway really interesting topic.

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