Good Omens Question #16 ~ "Uncivilization"

by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Good Omens Question #16 ~ "Uncivilization"

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:34 am

Pg. 320 (paperback) 322 (hardback). “It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.” Do you agree or disagree?
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Bix
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Unread postby Bix » Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:09 am

I would like to think we are a little bit farther removed than 24 hours and two meals, but I'm afraid that might be fairly true. I was thinking of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy in New Orleans as an example. (I was not there, so anyone who was, please feel free to correct any wrong impressions I may have.) That was a desperate situation where some people reverted to barbaric behavior - looting, trampling others, preventing people fleeing the rising water from coming into their towns, etc. But the wonder is that it was not worse, that more people didn't succumb to their basest instincts. So perhaps I'm proving the opposite is true and we are more civilized than we think. :-?
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Unread postby Endora » Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:22 am

Bix, I thought of Katrina immediately too. Maybe the press gave us the wrong impression, but it seemed to prove the statemant right. But then if you consider other disasters, natural like the Pakistan earthquake last year, or human like 9/11, it wasn't like that. People seemed to pull together and civilisation doidn't seem to crack. In fact, people's humanity was shown in its best form.

Bad news is after all what sells newspapers.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:47 am

My first thought was of Katrina as well, but we know how the media likes to show us the bad stuff more than the good stuff. Then I had the same thoughts about 911, the tsunami and other natural disasters where mankind has shown it's good side. I wonder if it is a matter of it happening to you or you being the observer? I think we all want to help when disaster strikes, but if you are in the middle of the disaster I think most people are probably focusing on their own immediate needs before being able to reach out. Thank goodness I have never had to find out first hand. :hope:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby fansmom » Tue Aug 22, 2006 1:33 pm

In some of the Katrina anniversary coverage I have read recently, I saw the results of a survey taken of the hurricane's victims. The number of people who had been helped by strangers vastly outweighed the number who had been harmed by them. (I'd give a link if I could remember where I read that. :dunce: )

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Unread postby Charlene » Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:02 pm

When it comes down to it...it might be that soon. Remember back in 1999 when nobody knew what would happen to all the computers when 2000 rolled around...no water, electricity, ATMs, grocery stores (ever been in one of those when power goes off...they come to a standstill)...groups were encouraging people to stock food, water, ammunition, guns, etc. When people are hungry and cold they do crazy things. Gang mentality takes over as well. People were urging people to arm themselves.

Everything that could go wrong, went wrong with Katrina: the dome lost it's roof, nobody could get there since it was in the middle of the flood, no medical supplies for the sick, and then rumor abounded that gangs, killings, rapes, etc. were going on and the service people were afraid to go inside.

I read a book many years ago (fiction) about the "bomb" finally going off, and this group of people (somewhere in Europe) survived because they had been in the wine cellar of some old castle. When they were able to surface, nothing much remained but scorched earth..and the survivors around the town went primitive real fast. Sticks and stones and all that.

Another book I read concerned terriorists poisoning our crop system...and it was so simple...masked as aerial photographers taking pictures of landscape, over the course of months and months, they poisoned crops, etc. Then, everything fell apart, stampedes to what was left on shelves of grocery stores.

Look back to the riots of LA or DC years ago...things can go bad in a second...and then there is Lord of the Flys.

When you are starving and hurt and want to provide for yourself or your family, and your moral center is a little skewed, and even if it isn't...well things go wrong quickly.

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Unread postby suec » Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:35 pm

Pretty much, I do agree. I think it is bang on. We only have to have the threat of a petrol shortage, and there are endless tailbacks queuing for it at the station, and the supermarket shelves stripped bare in an afternoon, with people stockpiling groceries. And that's without a real emergency. These days most of us are dependent on the infra structure of civilisation for basic necessities.
Charlene, I think the Lord of the Flies is a chilling account that is way to close for comfort.
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Unread postby Endora » Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:46 pm

suec wrote:Charlene, I think the Lord of the Flies is a chilling account that is way to close for comfort.


Or Alex Garland's The Beach?
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Aug 22, 2006 3:01 pm

fansmom, I'm glad to hear that. We always see the worst instead of the best (or at least equal footage) covered in a disaster like that. :-/ Reading your posts reminds me of last year when there would be a hurricane were in the Gulf and people in Austin were flipping thinking we were going to lose water, power, etc! People were stockpiling water and supplies, really in a panic over something that wasn't even going to happen.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Veronica » Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:03 pm

I have to agree. I think things are about as bad as I would like to see them get. Constant war in the middle East. weather disasters, constant rising of fuel. My utilities keep going up. over the weekend my gas & Electric BUDGET payment went up 20.00 each. in the last 9 years my electric has gone from a 40.00 budget to a 90.00 budget payment, my gas has gone up almost as high. I live in a shoe box. Whats it going to be like for my kids. the cost of health care. all of it is pretty out of control! Only the strong will surivive & believe me I am just hanging in there holding on for life. Maybe we arent running around acting like crazy lunatics in the streets but the people that run things. People we depend on for everyday living sure do. They run through our wallets.

Off my :soapbox:
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:35 pm

My first thought on this question this morning was: No way!! Gross exaggeration!! Then I let 9/11, Katrina, terrorism, ... enter my mind and realized I wasn't ready to answer. As I pondered during the day I realized how just missing the two meals would drop my blood sugar so low as to make me rather barbaric if I still had the energy for barbarism. Mr. Betty Sue and I assured each other we'd never become barbaric under dire circumstances..... till we started factoring in how we'd fight for our kids... I'm still not ready to say that all of civilization would respond with barbarism. As has been mentioned, there have been some beautiful stories of heroism and altruism under the most difficult circumstances. Let's hope civilization keeps those in mind if worst come to worst! :angel:
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Aug 22, 2006 10:34 pm

Digits crossed that we don't come to that Betty Sue, but ALL digits crossed that you are right if worst should come to worst where we are. :angel:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Good Omens Question #16 ~ "Uncivilization"

Unread postby Gypsylee » Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:58 am

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Pg. 320 (paperback) 322 (hardback). “It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.” Do you agree or disagree?


When I read this I started thinking of rolling black outs, computers going down, not being able to cash a check or access your ATM. It could happen in our world today. If the infrastructure we depend on day in and day out is all of a sudden not there, people would start acting strangely and desperately. The first couple of hours you'd think "awwwww this ain't so bad. So what if I can't work for a couple of hours." But then when the reality of it settles in because it is going on longer than our comfort level can handle and we start thinking of the unthinkable, that this might be sort of permanent.....the tension starts rising, tempers start flying...

So, 24 hours and two meals seems pretty right on to me.
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Wed Aug 23, 2006 3:35 am

It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism… you betcha.

I was in Los Angeles in 1992 when the Rodney King verdict sparked rioting that engulfed large areas of the city. The flashpoint occurred in the late afternoon and in less than 24 hours parts of Los Angeles were essentially war zones. I turned down my quiet West LA street to find an armored Hummer manned with armed National Guardsman advising people to stay indoors. The looting and firebombing was widespread, but concentrated in neighborhoods that could least afford unrest and violence.

There is uneasy peace again in LA, but it is fragile. The anger is understandable in a city where a multi-million dollar home sliding down a hillside will get more attention than kids killing kids in gang violence.
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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Aug 23, 2006 8:34 am

It is a very fragile balance, db. I am also reminded of the nervousness of people on the eve of the year 2000 as someone mentioned. There was a definite undercurrent of unrest at that time with people fearing what might happen.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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