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New – 20 August 2005

A Glancing Blow



Fred Smith was buried with honors the day after his death. Most everyone spoke a few words in his memory. George Fredericks made a particularly moving speech about Fred's contributions and his concern for everyone's security. No one doubted for a moment that Fred had made mistakes, but then so had we all. Nevertheless, George spoke only of what Fred had given. Appropriately, he quoted someone that even Fred could respect and honor: Albert Einstein. “The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.”

After the simple but thoughtful ceremony, Fred was taken to Challenger, which had remained buried after Ketuohok's passing. There he was laid to rest inside 'his enclave' and the tunnel leading down to it was closed. The enclave seemed an appropriate tomb for Fred and there was unanimous agreement on the idea.

Still... I can't help but wonder what some future archaeologist will say when he unearths it some day in the distant future. Perhaps we'll survive long enough to keep the story of the enclaves alive for posterity. Perhaps not. If nothing else, we should be able to generate a few legends which future mythologists will attempt to hardily dismiss as fantasies or fables.

The response to Monica was never formalized. Everyone seemed to have opinions, but she had generated so much respect from her actions and her reasons, that it was difficult to think in terms of somehow punishing her. She was, by the way, only sixteen years old. Her youth and wisdom was just simply astounding. To my knowledge, no one ever even suggested that 'something needed to be done.' It was a fait accompli, and there was the sense that it was one of those things that simply had to be done by some hero or heroine -- letting their fates be cast to the winds. I wonder if legends and stories will be built up for her as well. Her story would be one to tell for certain. Of course, by then her tales will likely include her dispatching various monsters from her path.

In the following weeks we completely moved everyone out of the enclaves and into Intrepid Eagle's Eyrie. This included, happily, Mike Brownson, who had been saved by Lois when she sensed an urgent need to go back to his lean-to and check on him. Fred, Diana and the others had already left, and never knew Mike's ultimate fate, as Al Steward had finally done the blood transfusion that was needed even more than before.

Our community's name, of course, was soon shortened to “Eyrie.” This had always seemed appropriate in that a nest for eagles was what we were becoming, with each person having the independence and attitude of an eagle. We built a series of heavy steel buildings and most of the married or committed couples now have their own private quarters. Right now we're trying to provide equal facilities for the singles and the teenagers who are coming of age. Eyrie is starting to become a small, closely knit community.

The heavy structural steel we have used without exception in all of our building has become somewhat unnecessary. The winds have dissipated to the point where we seldom get anything over fifty miles an hour. Even that's becoming rare. The haze, smog and mist are more persistent but even they are beginning to clear. The sun is often clearly visible, even though we have yet to have a 'blue sky day'.

The climate has remained fairly mild, without extremes of temperature. John Ryker has made some observations and believes that we have shifted latitudes and are now at about eighteen degrees north. Many objected that this was not possible, since we would have had to travel so far in the enclaves. In addition, at eighteen degrees north we'd likely be in the middle of the ocean (there's not much land area at eighteen degrees north in the western hemisphere). John counters that the whole continent has shifted because of the collision and has, in fact, been able to convince a goodly number of people. The idea is still a bit too incredible for me.

To take advantage of the rains, we have provided numerous small catch basins. These small ponds are then connected by piping and windmill driven pumps to our central water supply. We have even provided for hot water showers, one of the latest of our blessings.

Another blessing has to be Jim Lomas' continuing recovery. Al Steward has made a great deal of the way Jim has managed to pull through. From the doctor's viewpoint it indicates the level at which 'our medicine' can hope to operate. Jim was more seriously hurt than most of us imagined, but he has come back and it can serve as an example of what we can hope to expect in the future. Jim has already started building a much higher quality of furniture, another one of our new blessings.

The new luxuries seem to arrive just as we need them. We are expecting a growing population, particularly in the form of babies. The first born Eyrian will likely belong to Ernie Shaw and Penny Griffith. This seems appropriate since Penny is the unofficial 'Mother of the Nest' and Ernie and Penny's marriage was the first officially sanctified by Scott. Of course, it took some effort for Scott to get over the idea of sanctioning anybody's marriage!

Several other couples are either expecting or thinking about expecting (or expecting to think about it). Penny's delivery may be only the beginning of a wholesale rush of new babies. Even George Harvey and I are expecting, but we haven't told anyone yet. I probably wouldn't have told George so soon if he hadn't been my doctor and the one who first suspected my pregnancy. (Now, that was a bit disconcerting!)

Besides babies we have added to our population by bringing in more people. Tom Wirth, as might be expected, currently holds the record with a sum total of twenty-one newcomers. In fact, he usually returns from a hunting trip with more people than animals. Everyone jokes that he finds the people just in order to have someone to carry back the animals.

There have also been a few who found us. Most of them are young and once we feed and care for them a bit they regain their strength and health very quickly. We now number almost ninety, which George Harvey is prone to call 'a vibrant population'.

Amazingly we have maintained a near-balance between male and female which is somewhat convenient. As yet there have been no shortages of either opposite sex and no one has gotten the feeling of being left out or without having any possibilities. Even Tom Warren and Mary Cleveland seemed to have discovered each other. Of course, I suspect that even if there were a shortage of women, most of my comrades in sex would find ways to prevent any 'deficits of companionship'. (We are a particularly close community.) I can only thank heaven that there is not a shortage of men. I might be less liberal if I had to share George.

We have yet to be able to contact any of the other groups that Fred Smith labored so much to create. The major problem is that there is still much more electromagnetic activity in the atmosphere and earth than anyone had anticipated, and thus radio communications are at our present level of technology essentially impossible. But there is always hope for the future. The fact that we are still encountering survivors who made it almost entirely as a matter of luck has encouraged us. And Dr. Harvey would say, "Life has a way of surviving anything."

Larry Scott has proven to be an exceptional leader and almost everyone would gladly elect him dictator on any given day. To his credit, he would not accept the questionable honor. Instead, he has devoted almost all of his efforts to ensuring a healthy mix of autonomous, strong individuals. And, despite a heavy background of male chauvinism still lingering in some of the men, he has established females as the equals of men in terms of leadership. There is even the strong suggestion that any woman can at any time choose any man to be the father of her next child. The man can always refuse, of course, but the idea that the women who must carry the child must also be the ones to choose the father and his genetic code. It's a somewhat radical step, and in many aspects as not changed my situation. But it's still something that makes a lot of sense. (Besides, I like to think my influence has been partially responsible. There is also Lois' exampe, and of course, Monica's. In fact, Monica's intuitive sense of wisdom is, as I said before, becoming ever so slightly legendary.)

My worry has been that, in the long run, the various rules and requirements that Scott has etablished will be watered down until the point is reached where they become ineffectual. I worried over this for several weeks before I asked Larry if he didn't expect this to happen eventually. He only smiled and answered that, certainly, I was correct. But that, when the rules did falter, then someone would either change them or forego them. We would then start over. One of his statements has stuck to me to this day. Very simply, he said, "Stability is contrary to nature."

The thought is a bit shattering but perhaps inevitable. For it implies the long range instability of any government in a truly free society. It also implies instability in leadership, or at least a much needed evolution of leadership. I do know from very personal experience that when survival is in question, small groups band together with strong leaders. Then as the task of survival evolves from simply surviving the rigors of nature to surviving the deeds of our fellow man, the groups band together with stronger leaders; the trend always being toward absolute power in fewer and fewer hands.

Once Common Law becomes established, however, then the process can begin to reverse itself. The trick is to do so without the statutory laws so often associated more with kingdoms than with republics. With survival of nature or among men no longer the problem, the age of the single leader evolves to a multiplicity of leaders throughout a society.

The tough part is the changing of our form of government as we proceed through all the levels and stages of organization and leadership. It may very well be that a continuous series of revolutions are essential for the renewal of society and for the progression from one stage to another. Clearly the innate desire of any individual to gain a humanistic immorality cannot be achieved unless that person somehow causes change. Without changing (and The Ordeal of Change ), there is nothing a person can contribute (or detract), and therefore there is nothing for which the person can be remembered. It actually stems back to our quest for a form of immortality.

I suspect the only hope might be that our revolutions should be not of society but of ideas. In fact, the primary goal of government should be to eliminate the need for governing . Any civilization requiring leadership is not worthy of the name. Once society is structured so that essential needs are met (health, food, lodging, etceteras), then all else is an ever-changing matrix of chaotic but free individuals. Which sounds fine until you realize that the flaw in my theory is the question of what constitutes the essentials. Will we want to continually re­structure society based on what new ideas and what new essentials (born first as luxuries) we conceive? But, of course!

It seems to me that man is inherently anti-entropic. Human consciousness must organize; it must attempt to bring order out of chaos. It seeks predictability and limited choice; perhaps as a guard against Future Shock . But humans will avoid the ordeal of change on the one hand (preferring constancy and predictability) while, on the other hand, each individual will want to change some things if only to meet their own preferences.

It is as if man denies freedom in all things about him while at the same time, constantly striving for freedom of choice on those particular and unique matters of one's own choosing. One might structure a society around this idea, but the problem is that individuals tend to be very selective in their choice of freedom. Many may think of freedom as merely "having the bars of one's cage further away than they would ever care to fly." While others may think in terms of nothing less than universal limits. Many may wish nature to be predictable, if only to allow themselves the choice of their freedoms. And those choices are so very individual.

Man's desire for predictability of others and the failure of just this factor is the thing of which confrontations are made. His desires may vary from a wish of total subservience of others to himself, to a mere limitation of others to the extent that they cannot affect his life. Which, of course, is what diversity is all about.

The key appears to be freedom versus predictability. Excitement and comedy are based on unpredictability (freedom), as is suspense. Boredom is a lack of choices. Too much freedom or unpredictability confuses the mind. But some degree of it is essential for the mind's activity. Freedom of choice really means the freedom to choose what one wishes to be unpredictable.

These chosen unpredictables are almost always trivial. One generally does not wish to be surprised at anything truly important. It is not a question of a pleasant surprise. Would anyone choose to have an important aspect (important as defined by the individual) be unpredictable, with even odds on which way the decision may be rendered? Is pleasant surprise on important items merely relief?

Inevitably, though, predictability of events by one individual is dependent upon others. Man must learn to survive in a society as well as in a physical world. Perhaps survival in one of its diverse forms is the goal of man. That, of course, would be a pity. Energies devoted merely to survive may very well be a serious misuse of man's brain – a brain capable of a vast repertoire of creative thoughts and ideas. Survival in a hostile world may only be the struggle for freedom in the sense of Yamazatin: “Let me want what I want. Not what society wants for me.” Or… what a society might demand of me.

In sum, then, stability is contrary to nature while man uses his consciousness and energies to bring order out of chaos. With such forces, there can be no real stability, with variations in the order of society moving in first one direction then another.

So what is the answer? I don't know. I'm not even sure if it can be written down. It may be that it must be defined by each individual. And when that person, that single entity, takes an active part in the constant restructuring of society, that person will, in effect, constitute the leadership. And with any luck at all, everyone will be a leader.

S. L. H.

”An Emperor knows how to govern when poets are free to make verses, people to act plays, historians to tell the truth, ministers to give advice, the poor to grumble at taxes, students to learn lessons aloud, workmen to praise their skill and seek work, people to speak of anything, and old men to find fault with everything.”

-- Address by the Duke of Shao to King Li-Wang, ca 845 B.C.E.


                                            Chapter Thirteen -- Sneak Attack

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