Selfish Me

Have you ever been told that you’re selfish? It’s like being mean or bigoted. “Selfish” sounds cruel.

In linguistic quandaries I find a dictionary. Selfish: “Lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”

I think “selfish” has more nuanced flavors than “one’s own personal profit or pleasure” sounds. If you have two cones of chocolate ice cream and eat both, refusing to share with your spouse or child, that’s selfish.

But what about this? Half a century ago, underground bomb shelters were a large topic of discussion. A shelter would be expensive, but we lived on Amelia Island just 20 miles north of Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida, home to aircraft carriers and warplanes. Mayport was surely a nuclear missile target.

Our discussions became tense during the 1962 “Cuban Missile Crisis,” and my father considered contracting for a shelter, but when the crisis resolved in October and he discovered the costs of shelter construction, the plans died. Dad was a school teacher and money was tight.

I don’t believe money was the true reason that so few people actually built shelters, though. After all, the possibility of nuclear war remains real today.

What halted the plans was this scenario:

  1. Tensions rise among nations with atomic weapons.
  2. An incident prompts a nuclear exchange.
  3. The family grabs the pets and heads to the well-stocked bomb shelter, locks the blast-proof door and raises air filtration tubes. There, they wait, either for the end of the world as they know it or for radiation to diminish.
  4. Suddenly there’s a pounding on the door. Dad lifts the offset peep; it’s the neighbors, the ones who laughed at their preparations, fought the shelter’s construction in neighborhood association meetings. They now stand outside shaking in fear, but the shelter is locked-down with enough food and water only for the family. What to do? Open the door and anything might happen … arguments, hunger and thirst, nuclear fallout blowing inside along with the neighbors.

This scenario is what crushed shelter planning. In the event of nuclear holocaust, men of the ‘50s decided it would be selfish to live while their neighbors died. Better to take their chances outside. Better death with a clean conscience. I’m too selfish for that.

What is selfish in a survival situation? In Aesop’s ant-and-grasshopper fable, grasshopper sings and dances all summer while the ants work and prepare. When winter arrives, the ants are warm and well-fed. Grasshopper shivers and begs for food and shelter; the ants refuse. The ants have only enough food and shelter for themselves. To care for the grasshopper would mean many of them would not survive. It’s a risk they won’t take. Presumably the grasshopper dies in the snow and cold while scratching at their door.

Our nation is at another crossroads. Not an external threat, but internal dissension. The socialist, communist left has become violent; they have coopted the media. There is talk of the West Coast seceding from the U.S. People endure but no nation lasts forever; no constitution is permanent; the lion and lamb lie down together until the lion becomes hungry.

It is now vital for people who carry concealed to form community because we cannot live underground forever, even behind blast doors. The shelter problem is that when the doors open and the family emerges, they are surrounded by disaster: no electricity, no running water, few neighbors and no more food.

Developing a community of shared values is necessary for survival. During social unrest, we need reliable others, responsibly armed Americans, but it is righteous to be selfish in our own defense. Otherwise, we won’t survive, might even be tempted to share with whining, starving liberal grasshoppers.

Every sociological study — every lesson from history — teaches us that, alone, we cannot survive an apocalypse; the moment the blast doors open our time is limited. An apocalypse, not a zombie invasion or nuclear war, but something common in human history, social disintegration is possible in the U.S. The “Lone Wolf,” regardless of the romantic picture and his or her skills, will not long live; there are simply too many ways to err and one mistake in a time of social upheaval can be fatal.

Join a community of like values and prepare. Be ready to fight but cautious when opening those blast doors. Whatever it takes, survive.