Will Your Moral Values Survive The End of the World?

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Most of us have beliefs that we hold closely which have developed over the years, shaped through our experiences in the world. These beliefs were handed down to us by family or have been framed in the context of laws or our religion. These morals are what we perceive as right and wrong and for most of us – outside of extreme circumstances; our morals are not really in dispute in our day to day lives. You can offer just about any scenario to someone and they can tell you if what you are describing is right or wrong but these aren’t always rules that have been made into law, they are most commonly internal and change with the person and circumstance.

Our morals offer an internal code of conduct that we abide by in almost every situation because in a given day, I would presume to guess that not many of us have any opportunities that arise that would challenge our morals or cause us to need to act in a way contradictory to those values. However, in a grid down world I can see many possibilities (in a worst case scenario) where any one of us could find ourselves confronted with decisions that directly challenge our morals in one way or another.

I was reading Todd Sepulveda’s post titled: “What question have you always wanted to ask but never felt comfortable” on his site Ed That Matters. Many of you know Todd’s other site Prepper Website, but his post is part of a series of questions he asked his Facebook followers. All of them are interesting and I recommend reading them. His latest question caught my attention with one of the answers being: “Will modern moral values survive SHTF?” We talk so often about survival situations and life after some collapse in society, that I thought this would be worth exploring further.

CriminalHoldingGun

I think the subject of morals is one that we skirt around all the time, but never really delve into too deeply. Maybe that is because everything we discuss is hypothetical in large part. It is similar to talking back to the TV when your favorite survival show is on. I have done this myself – more times than I want to admit, arguing with the action going on in the show and spouting off with what I would have done in that situation. It’s harmless because it is make believe and my butt isn’t facing down two guys with shotguns who want to get into the house.

The survival scenarios we talk of with looters showing up at your door and gangs of marauders invading homes on your street and more importantly how we would act if faced with those situations are a theoretical exercise. We have the luxury of being able to discuss these possibilities and plan – visualize them without really having to act and putting ourselves in any moral dilemma. Looting is real without a doubt and people have been affected by both of these events in real life but even when it has visited the U.S. we still have some societal fabric of order that we can cling to. Even in the face of violence we still have the possibility of law and order to save the day or to punish us for our actions.

Tough choices

Ayn Rand wrote the classic novel “Atlas Shrugged” and if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. Rand created a philosophy called Objectivism and while I don’t subscribe to all of her beliefs, I do find her work very interesting. Atlas Shrugged is essentially her argument for the greatness of man, wrapped in an interesting story of a dystopic world. The story parallels a lot of the oppression by Government in collusion with corporations we are seeing in current times. John Gault isn’t the main character, but he is probably the most important to the story. If you have ever heard “Who is John Gault”, it was this book that was being referenced.

In John Galt’s speech from the book he says:

“Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice—and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man—by choice; he has to hold his life as a value—by choice; he has to learn to sustain it—by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues—by choice. A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality.”

In a survival, grid-down scenario we could find ourselves faced with making a lot of choices we would never have to make in our current lives. Rather than going along with what life hands us, we would be forced to make choices daily for our survival. I believe in the worst type of collapse, these decisions will play out in ways we can only imagine now. That scenario I viewed on TV could happen in my own front yard and in my ideal vision of how that would go down; I would take actions that if necessary by someone else could make them question their own moral compass. Actually, that scenario is one of the easier for me to rationalize in my head because I would be protecting my family from men with intent to do us harm. People who believe killing is always wrong would have a problem.

Beggingforfood

But what if your morality choices aren’t life and death due to an eminent threat? What if have to turn people away who are sick and starving? What if you know that they will die or could be horribly treated outside the safety – however fleeting, of your doorway? What if you by your actions, don’t directly kill anyone but send them to their deaths just the same out of self-preservation? What if you are forced to reveal information that could directly endanger people who trusted you?

What tolls will a few actions like this or maybe years of actions like this take on your own morals?

Getting back to the question: Will our morals survive SHTF? I don’t know if our morals are a concept that is set in concrete and never change or can be irrevocably broken. The question assumes that what you believe is right and wrong now will always be the same. My gut tells me that we will always have an individual sense of right and wrong. Will our guidelines for what is acceptable on a larger scale be the same after SHTF? I think that will depend on the circumstances you face and what you choose to do in the moment. Going back to Ayn Rand, if you are choosing to do what you feel is necessary to sustain your life; I think you will be able to justify it eventually. If that means you do something to survive you would never do now, while all the lights are on and the internet is working; you will find ways to adjust your sense of right and wrong in ways that make you feel better. Your morals will adapt.

I think even now, our morals differ according to where we live and how we are raised. Different races and nationalities have different morals and I don’t expect that to change, but I think the underlying question this person is trying to ask is, will I be a monster(do things I know are wrong) or will I stay the same (only do what I believe is right)? I think we will do what we believe is necessary to live or else we will die.

I believe Prepping is one way to take steps now to ensure you can live by the same moral code you have now, before the SHTF. If your goal is to be in a place you don’t have to make decisions you will regret, then you should be preparing now. Prepping gives you options and with options you have a little more wiggle room. Instead of acting out of desperation, you can plan. Instead of lowering your standards of what is right in order to survive, you can act now so that isn’t necessary. Thinking through these situations is one way to prepare but so is gaining knowledge in the form of skills and stocking up on supplies. It’s all cumulative.

Yes, life is going to happen and all the prepping in the world can’t guarantee bad things will not happen in your world, but it is a start. In the end I don’t think our morals will come out of any SHTF event unscathed, but I think we will still be able to point to a right and wrong. I do think what is right and wrong could change for each of us though. What do you think?

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16 Comments on "Will Your Moral Values Survive The End of the World?"

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obxster
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Moral standards are the only thing that will keep a survival group functioning together. Without those the group will splinter quickly and it’s usually the group without morals that will eradicate the rest if necessary to preserve their own lives. They may be forced to leave but it won’t take long for them to get enough followers to come back in force. This is what scares me the most about forming or joining a group.

BobW
Guest
It seems to me that unless you are so remote that no stranger walks down your drive, that each of us will be forced to either lose, modify, or suspend our moral compasses. I believe we don’t have to lose our moral compass, but how it is applied will be very different. Take the unknown child or woman walking down the street in your residential neighborhood. This person suddenly falls, unmoving right in front of your house. Today, you’d run out there to see if they are OK, prepared to call 911 and wait for the cavalry. In some dystopian… Read more »
usmarinestanker
Guest
Good follow up article and comments obxster and BobW. In the “Melian Dialogue” Thucydides quotes an Athenian envoy attempting to coerce another city-state to help them fight a 27-year war against Sparta (which they ended up losing horribly) as, “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” I think that’s very insightful into the human condition, and Pat’s article hits it as well. It is easy for someone who is safe and without worry to pontificate moral certainty. It’s a dog-eat-dog… Read more »
Mic Roland
Guest
Perhaps the key word in the original question is “modern”. To that, I would suggest that the common answer will be no. Modern morals will probably not survive in a SHTF environment. Pervasive in our culture today is a hybrid-morality with traces of Judeo-Christian principles, but a foundation of humanist “progressivism.” As a collective society, we seem to have all agreed to maintain general precepts: sanctity of life, respect for property, respect for each other. Yet, beneath that is the modernist presumptions of entitlement and collectivism. “I deserve an equal share” is a pot slowly simmering in our culture. While… Read more »
Son of Liberty
Guest

Good words, well stated.

Blessings,

Son of Liberty

boyo
Guest
Will moral values survive the end of the world? Not many at first. When first comes anarchy/chaos then it’s “you or them.” It’s going to be action/reaction. The fastest, luckiest and emotionally coldest will probably rule the day. If you agree with, “You can’t save everyone” then you maybe , at least unconsciously that we will probably be basic animals ( food, shelter, protection of our children and ourselves ) for a time during the collapse. We will be what we fear. Best of luck to you all.
BobW
Guest
I can’t agree with your statement. Viewing the world as it is, and not trying to apply ‘good times’ logic to a situation doesn’t make one a ‘basic animal.’ I don’t intend to attack my neighbors and take their belongings. I don’t intent to conduct preemptive strikes on any and all strangers who enter my neighborhood. I do expect that what most call moral behavior now will not be the same moral standards during a SHTF scenario. Certainly some will devolve into a slaves and bulldozers, kill or be killed, or similar mentality. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in… Read more »
Mike Lashewitz
Guest
I talked to the family about this. We would consider taking a young child on a permanent basis. However the idea of taking in a mother and child is another problem. The timing, the possibility that they are casing the place, the fact that I have 10 other mouths to feed on a very limited supply. More importantly where is the morality when they arrive at the door gun in hand? Personally I see the gun “in hand” and I will shoot. Developing a group is important in the small cities and towns. Just remember it takes one unstable mind… Read more »
NRP
Guest
I have read each and every post so far on this issue. Moral Standards are already lost my friends. How many of us has actually stopped and helped someone in need this week? How many of us have helped someone cross the street at a cross walk? How many of us have held a door for a Lady entering a building AND the lady saying “thank you” and you responding quietly “you’re welcome”? Look at our immoral, corrupt sluverment. Look at how the person in front of you in traffic cut you off. Look at the religion is treating others… Read more »
Prepp or Die
Guest
While I agree with Mic that true believers in Christ will maintain their morality till the end, the majority of people are not true believers. For the rest of humanity morality only exists if other baser needs are met. If you are safe and warm surrounded by your family and friends and have a full belly then it is the nature of most to be welcoming and non-hostile, that is the state of mankind in America today. But if you take away any of those lesser or basic needs they will alter their morality relative to their situation. For example… Read more »
BobW
Guest

Wait, wait, wait. A true believer will let some BG drown them then rape and pillage his family knowing this is what Jesus would want? I’m sorry, I can’t accept that.

DickDanger
Guest

I bet if every bible thumping god hawker got hungry and desperate enough, they’d turn go feral like anyone else. In this day and age, religion equates to little more than “I’m better and morally superior to everyone who disagrees with me”, and only sustains itself in a feel-good bubble. Pop that bubble with a dose of real struggle, and you’re left with a hungry, desperate individual willing to do anything to survive.

Novice
Guest

If that is how a “Christian” really feels then they are not really a follower of Christ. It seems awfully sinical that you would think that most people who profess the Christian faith would be so hypocritical.

usmarinestanker
Guest
You’re describing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs ) Think of a pyramid, with the lowest row of blocks representing the most fundamental, basic of human needs. The needs become less and less vital to life the higher you go up, but when met result in a more fulfilled, happy individual. The theory states that a person cannot fulfill higher needs if the lower needs are not met. Most basic: Physiologic needs (food, water, sleep, etc) Safety: shelter, free of violence/abuse, etc Love/Belonging: having a family/religion/support group, etc – knowing you’re not alone and have help Esteem: Knowledge that you’re not… Read more »
Novice
Guest

The problem with this view of morality (and Ayan Rand’s) is that it is based on humanistic philosophy. My morals are based on the bible, not some feel good, ever changing rationalization of my behavior. The bible is clear on how I should act. It states that I am to love my neighbor as myself. It states that I am to protect and provide for my family above all else. If I fail to do these things then I have not “changed my morals”, I’ve violated them.

Novice
Guest

“Thank you” and “your welcome” are manners, not morals.

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