As humanity's new society continues to develop, management of the human rights issues such as emotions, trauma, and personal freedoms comes into play. Many post-appocalyptic fiction works touch on this issue, as the dilemma between survival and human rights presents itself. Often times this creates a situation where the leader of the group makes self-focused decisions that disregard the personal issues of the majority of the group in favour of their own priorities. Following this authority structure, the path of the surviving humans may veer down towards authoritarian dictatorship, or at the very least, an unfair society favouring a certain group of people. While understandable, the role of this page is to counter-act such movements and attempt to create a safe society which accomodates more than the basic survival necessities, but not at the expense of 'the public.'
Once the basic human needs following the apocalypse have been taken care of, issues of a personal nature that do not necessarily fall into the must be adressed. The forming of small groups is the first step, and groups of 3-15 people are suceptible to a system of unfair dictatorship due to the need for quick decision making and the mental vulnerablilty of the individuals in question. Obviously decisions that must be made quickly to ensure survival take presedent, and it is important to have undisputed leadership in these cases. Otherwise outbreaks of disagreement may arise causing unnecessary delay and threatening survival. However, when the basic survival of the group is not in jeapordy, a fairer system should begin to be instated. Several of the issues that disrupt contemporary society may be able to be resolved by laying a foundation for a just society early on.
In a group of 3-15 people, it is difficult to maintain equal liberties concerning freedom of speech. Smaller groups may be able to maintain a fairer system due to higher amounts of 'talking time' per person and less opinions to be taken into consideration. However in larger groups, especially groups focused around individual survival, it may be difficult to maintain individual liberties. Any form of dissent or disagreement is dangerous to the group's survival, as it could be labeled as 'trouble-making' and potentially lead to the splitting of a group or waste time in a dire situation. This is not to say that individual issues shouldn't be taken into consideration, but rather that it will depend on timing, security, and most likely, popularity of the individual.
In addition to the large issue of freedom of speech in general arises the issue of differing languages. As seen in the first season of "Lost," Jin-Soo Kwon only speaks Korean. His wife, Sun Paik, who speaks fluent Korean and English, acts as the only translator between him and the rest of the group. While under protection of freedom of speech rights, Jin-Soo should be able to speak in any language he choses, it often becomes an issue in emergency situations where quick, effecient communication is necessary. Jin-Soo begins to learn English for convenience, and as a way to relate and communicate to the rest of the survivors. In a similar situation, if there is a member of the group who is only fluent in a forgien language, they should not be discriminated against for choosing to speak that language. However the understanding should be that majority members of the group are not necessarily responsible for understanding the language being spoken. In return, for practical reasons, the alternative language speaker should understand that for their own safety, and for the safety of the rest of the group, it makes the most sense to at least attempt to gain a basic understanding of the majority's language.
The freedom of movement includes the right to travel wherever and whenever an indivudal choses. The rest of the group should have no say in the movements of the individual, as long as the movements do not jeapordize the safety of the group. If the consensus is that an individuals movements may lure ferals to the groups location, or alert hostile groups to the groups location, the group should have the right to preserve their security through the means necessary. However, personal connections, romantic or social commitments, or selfish interests should not stop an individual from leaving the group when and where they choose.
Religious Freedoms/Systems of BeliefsEdit
"Research demonstrates important associations between religiosity and well-being; spirituality and religious faith are important coping mechanisms for managing stressful life events." The apocalypse is an extremely stressful situation, and people should have the right to deal with it in whatever way they are able. Religion is a highly controversial social situation in today's current climate, and precautions should be taken. Some negatives to religious freedoms include dissent in the group, potential infringement on other's liberties, and time taken on religious practices. However in smaller groups with less influence by religious institutions, people may be more forgiving and accomodating to other's beliefs. The benefits generally outweigh the negative impacts, as people may feel more balanced, less stressed, hopeful, and reminded of the fundamental morals of their religion. Time taken for religious practices may leave people more relaxed, similar to a form of medititation. Taking the time for a focused activity that doesn't contribute directly to survival could be mentally beneficial for certain people.
Similarly to many of the social issues, conflict of interest may cause dissent in the group. Although most religions have the same fundamental principles, the details and particulars may cause arguments in the group. These should be dealt with initially in a very black and white way: if what you practice infringes on the liberties of another individual, change it, or cease in the practice. Some survivalist groups may be centered around religious beliefs, and if an individual feels oppressed or unsafe in their company, they should be free to join another group, or leave, as the safety of the group permits. In a highly stressful situation, new religions may begin forming. These may be accepting and beneficial, but they may also be highly dangerous, exclusive, and controlling. Cults around new belief systems may be harmful to individuals, but may also have agendas against other survival groups. If the group encounters another group which is oppressing individuals in their company, an attempt to communicate with the indivudals and establish their opinions and needs should be made -- as long as it doesn't harm the security of the group.
A healthy romantic relationship can be beneficial to the people in the relationship, but especially in a stressful apocalyptic situation, what constitutes as healthy and unhealthy can straddle a thin line. The characteristics of what consitutes as a healthy relationship can be found, however in such a situation they may not all apply or be the most prominent aspects of the relationship. If a group member suspects that a relationship is turning unhealthy, they should ask the person that they feel is the 'victim,' in confidence, of their opinion of their relationship and only act with the permission of the individual, or when the relationship becomes threatening. Ideally, this would happen without consideration of sex, gender, religion, race, or any other defining factor of the individuals involved.
Alternative relationships -- homosexual, asexual, unmarried, polyamorous -- should not be discriminated against in any way, unless the members invovled are unconsenting or underaged.
While there would be no social structure in which to recognize or register a relationship, if individuals wish to announce their relationship, their relationship should be treated in the manner they wish.
After the outbreak of the apocalypse, safe sex may not be a priority or even available. Condoms and other forms of contraception will not be readily available, and may increase the spread of STDs, including blood-based, skin-based, and pregnancy. While it would be an infringement of personal liberties to ban unsafe sex, considerations of the consequences, especially pregnancy, should be established and understood by the group. No member of the group should be discriminated against for sexual practices, unless, again, their partner(s) are underaged or unconsenting.
Rape may become an issue within the group, even between people in an established realtionship. As rape is obviously an indication of an unhealthy relationship, it should be treated in the same manner as an unhealthy relationship, though much more harshly. Again, this should be acted upon regardless of sex, gender, religion, race, or any other defining factor.
Division of LabourEdit
As seen in The Walking Dead, division of labour becomes very gendered when survival becomes the main issue. Donna, Carol, and Lori are expected to wash the clothes, look after the children, and perform other 'household' tasks while the men hunt. While it's been standard practice through most of human history to divide labour in such a way, it's not strictly necessary. Lori's main argument to deffend these practices are to say "I can't shoot a gun… I've never even tried." However, later in the book Rick gives shooting lessons to those interested. Modern way of life has created equality in the physical skills of men and women, and it makes no sense to reseparate them. Men may have a biological advantage in terms of strength, but that shouldn't dictate what women can and cannot do.
In the same way, there should be nothing stopping men from contributing to 'household' tasks as well. Lori says "I wouldn't trust any of those guys to wash my clothes," which is a matter of skill, not ability. While it's true that in a situation such as this one should work on developing the quality of exisiting skills, there should be nothing stopping people from developing as many useful skills as possible, including men.
If we can get this across early on, it will be easier to create an equal opportunity society later on.
Initially, child labour will not be a major issue. In circumstances of small, nomadic groups, everyone is expected to contribute their share of the work. Survival is the only responsibility, and it makes sense for children to participate. The regulatory force of this should in theory be the parental guardians of the child, however the interdependancy of such a small group would most likely instigate more of a "it takes a village" mentality than modern society does.
Initially, mobility and self-defense are the two most important abilities to have in the post-apocalyptic situation. Human life is important to conserve, especially when it has been so diminished already. While, if possible, allowances and aide should be given to those with a physical disability, if doing so threatens the group's survival, then priority should be given to the survival of the majority -- same as if one person was surrounded by a swarm of ferals and the rest of the group was able to escape.
Similarly to physical disability, survival of the group should come above accomodating those with special needs. Disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and others are sure to affect most of the group. While in the short term professional, consistant care may not be available, group support may be able to aide in people's distress.
Those with pre-existing psychological or physical conditions may have dependancies on chemical substances. If they're unable to cope without the drugs, an effort should be made to acquire enough drugs for either consistant doses or to wean them off. If these cannot be acquired, accommodations can be attempted but these should not negatively impact the group's survival.
Once a basic system of society has been established, through a consistant location and a growing population, more focus can take place on the societal concerns influencing the internal structure of the new society. As more people are gathered together under a common system of government, and the feral population is dropping, people will begin to feel more secure in their way of life. Similar to that of the plague in the 14th century, a sudden loss of population may lead to a more empowered lower-class, though previous class status will no longer influence people in the same way. Still, it can be expected that a more egalitarian economic system will arrise, if following historical trends.
Some serious issues presented are how the transfer of short-term societal systems will translate into the mid-term. As survival becomes less of an issue, more accomodations must be made for individuals, however those accomodations no longer have the stopping point of 'as long as it doens't threaten the survival of the group'. Boundaries need to be set, and realistic expectations for the accomodations willing to be made by the new system must be established.
Freedom of SpeechEdit
As a less authoritarian governmental system is formed, and the issues of immediate security are lessened, freedom of speech will become more universal and accesible to people. Censorship should not be an issue -- all information available should be known to the public, allowing them to make their own decisions. This is crucial in maintaining a fair and equal society.
As subcultures arise in the new society, varying languages may not be as big of an issue. In Western societies, English will probably remain the dominant language, but depending on the percentage of other languages and the small population, it may evolve to combine several different languages. Communication between languages may still be in issue, however after the short-term effects of adaptation and the new education system, it will become less of an issue over time.
As the population of the established society grows, religious groups will most likely congregate and reform organized religion. Depending on the span of time spent in the short-term stage, religious factions may split off from preestablismed religious organizations to form their own religion with differing interests. While censorship is not sanctioned, if these new religions, or even the preestablished ones, become controlling and dangerous to the individual liberties or the society itself, those who pose a threat should be disbanded, or ejected from the city.
Religious practices should not heavily influence an individual's ability to contribute to society, although some allowances can be made. A day of rest is a healthy concept, and not just confined to those with religious beliefs. Dietary restrictions should be able to be made on a personal level, but due to the unknown and inconsistant food supply, may not be always accommodatable on a healthy standard. However, this is a decision that the individual needs to make themselves.
Church and state should be separated, and while religious organizations may have influence over the individuals opinions concerning government affairs, the governmental organization should generally follow a apatheistic system.
Establishment of Interpersonal RegulationsEdit
As the population grows, new relationships will be formed. An issue will arise of how to formally recognize an equivilant of marriage, and who should receive economic and soceital benefits of marriage. While religious practices may have their own systems of formal recognition, civil recognition should be universal and have the same benefits. A system of interpersonal relationship management similar to that of the broad, generalized concept of Native American marriage. Marriage and recognition was personal issue, seperate from religion and the state. It may be necessary to report and document these relationships at a civil court or management, however the decision and action of marriage should be primarily at a personal level.
One issue of this kind of personal management would be the insurance of the protection of interpersonal parteners. These could be handled at a social level intitially, but as the population grows, willing consent may be an issue handled at the civil level, and these rights and regulations should be handled irregardless of sex, gender, sexuality, race, religion and other defining factors.
Child welfare is an important issue. Ideally every child should have access to food, security, and education. If disease or feral attacks are an issue, parents of children may die or become unable to care for children. Eventually state-run organizations should be set up, but until this occurs, it should fall on those able to support the child in need to take care of them. This would most likely be family or friends, but on rare occasions, a family could be assigned.
It should be ensured that sex happens between consenting and of age individuals. Protection against rape should be instated in the judicial system, with a harsh sentance that does not impact an individuals contribution to society, but keeps them away from their previous victims and from potential victims. As society begins to reform, anonymous crimes will become more prominent, as people will no longer personally know others in their vicinity. Personal security, especially in such a insecure situation, should be a priority.
Safe sex should also be an issue, as methods of contraception and STD protection will most likely not be widely available. This can be slowed through education, but will not entirely cease the issue. As wider scavenging occurs, finding condoms, etc., or a method of manufacturing these things should be found. This would preferably be consistantly sustainable, but this is not likely.
Once the society becomes more stable, repopulation becomes necessary, as new generations will have to replace and take over the society in later years. There will most likely be an age gap, but with the education measures put in place, these children will most likely grow to be capable of the tasks presented to them.
One issue which will need to be addressed will be that of unsustainable overpopulation. The limiting factor of the new society will most likely be food, and famine could be very dangerous to the well-being, health, and security of the society.
One measure to both rebuild and prevent overpopulation may be to regulate pregnancy without the consent of the potential mothers-to-be. This is unjust, unfair, and should be stopped if it becomes a reasonable issue. Forced pregnancies or abortions are not the sign of a secure and egalitarian system, however this is preventable with the correct education measures.
Division of LabourEdit
Safe, sustainable labour is the main issue that has to be focused on initially. Labour should be paid in a fair amount, if not by the company or business that requires it, then by the government system. While currency may not be in wide circulation initially, bartering work for food, clothing, or other necessities should suffice. All labour should be paid for, and should be done willingly.
Similar to sexist division of labour in the short-term, gender or sex should have no impact on the work assigned to individuals, apart from physical capability.
In a similar fashion to Children of Men, the elderly may become a drain on society rather than contributors. As long as the resources exist to support these people, they should be kept alive. Unlike Children of Men, the solution to this should not be forced 'suicides', but rather finding tasks that can be done by these people. One such task may be the education system, where the eldery can become teachers.
Although the concept of 'survival of the fittest' may have disallowed most people with such disabilities to live past the short-term stage, the mid-term stage may allow them to contribute to society in less physical ways. These individuals will become less of a drain on society, as movement or physical strength is no longer tehcnically necessary for all fields of labour.
As repopulation is in process, new children born with physical limitations are an issue which will also have to be addressed. The issue is of course, that if these children are never able to become independant of care, they will become a drain on society. If this drain cannot be accomodated to without risk to the contributing members of society, these children will unfortunately have to be killed in the most humane way possible, rather than allowing them to starve or merely ejected from the society.
While the short-term will most likely have weeded out those with unsustainable chemical dependancies, it should not be discriminated against unless these individuals are unable to function and contribute in the new society. The issue of functionality against mental health arises, and while more complex drugs such as those for allergies, athsma, or chemcial imbalances will most likely be unavailable, drugs which are more available may help people deal with personal trauma or stress.
Post-traumatic stress disorder will most likely effect a large majority of the population of the new society. While proper medical or psychological care is most likely going to be unavailable, group or individual therapy may be able to help people cope with minor trauma. The collective experiences of the various individuals may help people relate to each other as well.
Critical statges of development are short and long term. If the ground is set in these time frames, the longterm society should be stable. This may change based on other approximations of long term issues of different factions of the new society, however maintaining a fair and egalitarian society, along with the new education system, should be fairly self-explanitory and citizen regulated. Revolt and revolution should be fairly simple to perform in the smaller societies, and while this will help regulate the government system, it also runs the risk of putting a dangerous individual in power. This is a risk that has been present throughout human history, and it would be quite unbelievable to say that it is preventable. However with the education system, the interdependant way of life, and the smaller societies, it is "less" likely to occur.
- ↑ S. Dein et al, "Religion, Spirituality and Mental Health." The Psychiatrist 34(2): 2010, 63-64.
- ↑ http://www.campbell.edu/pdf/counseling-services/characteristics-of-healthy-romantic-relationships.pdf
- ↑ Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead (Berkeley, Calif: Image Comics, 2006)
- ↑ National Center for PTSD, "Treatment of PTSD." Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/treatment-ptsd.asp
- ↑ ["Social and Economic Effects of the Plague." Retrieved from http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian_Studies/dweb/plague/effects/social.php
- ↑ "Native American Marriage." Retrieved from http://www.nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/1352/native-american-marriage