Civilization collapsing is great material.

John Ramsey Miller

I think Cormac McCarthy has already written the best end-of-the world book I’ve ever read. But in the future I may write something about the end of the world from my own perspective. It won’t be about a meteor striking the earth, which I personally believe was the cause of the state of the earth in THE ROAD. Looking into the future with accuracy is impossible, of course, but it doesn’t take a psychic, just an ability to look at the present and imagine what the consequences of our actions might lead to something ten times worse. We’re living in a world where every country with the money is developing nukes, or will buy them from Iran, Russia, or North Korea. Once all of the countries who can beg, borrow, or buy them, have them, it’s just a matter of time before they use them the way they use IEDs or AK-47s. If you’ve been paying attention to world affairs, and not living on an Emu farm, you know that’s not merely possible, but highly likely. So there are a thousand end-of time plots not involving meteors striking Florida.

When I was in Great Britain I went through The Tower, and I visited several museums and galleries because I love art and because studying the masters by looking at the actual pieces is a spiritual experience. One overcast afternoon in March my wife and I walked out of the Royal Gallery and looking down at Trafalgar Square I had a vision of something that could be happening in that very location in the future. My flash was of bearded men in robes who were taking the paintings from the museum and feeding a giant fire with the art. I imagined marble statues being shattered by men using sledgehammers, and bronzes being cut into pieces using cutting torches. I could imagined the streets as far as I could see filled with Brits who had lost control of their country and could only stand by as watch as their history was being destroyed due to a decree from the Islamic British Government who were radicalized after having taken over in stages and were ridding Britain of its graven images. This was only after they had killed the animals in the zoos and turned Windsor Palace into a goat ranch. Great background for a thriller. It may not be so far out as I read the other day that there is now Sharia-based court in London ruling on Moslem disputes. I have no idea where it gets its legal authority, but if it’s Moslems on Moslems, I’m sure (as long as there are no executions), most Brits will let it go on. If radical Islamic extremists have their way, it could happen someday, and someday is coming soon in the Netherlands, France, and Great Britain.

I think about the future a lot these days and how systems can break down, and how that might impact me and those I love. It’s smart to prepare for contingencies as though they could become realities, because they certainly can. For instance for the past two weeks there has been a serious gasoline shortage in the Southeast, and finding gas has been a challenge. The closest station to me hasn’t had gasoline since Hurricane Ike, three weeks ago. There are no five gallon gas cans for sale anywhere.

I have the ability to grow food on my land, and have chickens and guns and the bullets for them and I have the mindset to use them if necessary. It’s dumb to think the police can protect you and your loved ones, any time, but if the system is under strain, forget it. You have the right and the duty to protect yourself from outside forces using whatever force that requires. If you are anti-gun you I guess you’ll have to wait however long it takes for the cops to come shovel up your corpse. I have several friends who believe people should not be able to own handguns, and every time there is a story in the news about some wing-nut shooting innocents they join the herd of people who think the killer would have been peaceable had they not had access to guns. In Jamaica more people are killed with machetes than guns, because it’s hard to get a gun, and they are expensive. I believe everybody is free to believe what they like, even if it’s unrealistic and they end up being a victim.

My books are about violent people, and about people who are touched by violence and react in order to survive, sometimes by employing violent means. My protagonists are not by nature violent people, but to stand around and let violent people do them harm without trying to save themselves or others by whatever means are at their disposal is out of the question. My readers wouldn’t enjoy my stories if evil people ever won. I understand that my personal feelings come through my writing. My feeling (in case you care) are that if someone comes to my home, or approaches me seeking to do me harm, odds are better than 50/50 that they will not succeed because I am not a pacifist and, if I decide I have to draw my gun, I will have already decided to shoot to kill, and I will do that. I have trained with a handgun for most of my adult life. I was trained first in the 1970s by the training officer for SWAT teams. I have carried a badge, and I have had concealed carry permits for decades. So as often as not I often go out onto the world with a handgun concealed on my person.

So, in my end-of-the-world book, many will die, but only the bad guys and gals, and there will be hope that the good guys can start over and succeed, which in the real world may be a fiction-dream. I hope the end of the world isn’t around the corner, and I hope it looks nothing like Cormac McCarthy’s.

5 thoughts on “Civilization collapsing is great material.

  1. Hi, John. Interesting post. I wonder sometimes if the Boomer generation doesn’t in fact have a leg up on Gens X & Y. Our kids and their kids have the misfortune of knowing mostly peace and prosperity. They’ve been forced to live in a world where we no longer demonize our enemies, but rather bend over backwards to feel their pain and understand what it is we might have done to deserve their enmity.

    Like you, I was a child of the South–though still a Yankee by Mississippi standards–and we had the freedom then to fear those who were different than us. We presumed friendship only from those who had earned it, and kept strangers at arm’s length until such time as they had proven themselves worthy. I think that’s how nature built us, and I think it’s why so many bristle at the contemporary trend toward forced friendships and so-called political correctness. When we were kids, if someone hit you, you hit them back–hopefully harder. At the end of the fight, the equation was equalized, and life went on. Nowadays, the offender and defender are equally expelled because, in the eyes of certain bureaucrats and administrators, violence is always bad. In the county where I live in Virginia, kids can’t even play dodge ball in the playground because it is too violent.

    My dad was career military. During the eighty years that he walked the planet, he endured the Dust Bowl years in Kansas, World War II, two plane crashes, the Cold War, Vietnam, countless political assassinations, the cultural humiliation that was the seventies, and then, finally, prosperity. I joined the scene in the early days of the Cold War. My son joined us in prosperity. The trauma of 9-11 notwithstanding, I don’t think he fully understands my paranoid underpinnings.

    We of a certain age (and a certain bent), understand how easy it is to have everything taken away by violent people because we have seen it happen too many times, and therein lies our generational advantage. We are physically and psychologically prepared to defend those we love at the expense of those who would threaten them. Why an intruder might be in my home threatening my family means nothing to me; that I stop him means everything. It wasn’t that long ago, I think, when most people felt that way.

    By the way, if it comes down to it, is your land fertile enough to grow food for the Gilstraps, too? I’m not much of a gardener, but I’m a good shot and I can always run the still.

  2. Nice, thoughtful post, John. Like you and Gilstrap, I too am a son of the South—born in Alabama and raised in the Redneck Riviera of NW Florida. Attending college during the ‘60s ingrained in me a sense of paranoia that to this day lives in my soul. It may even come across in my writing. I can’t see it but others can. I still remember riding through western Georgia in the mid-1950s with my mother and passing a roadside gathering of Klu Klux Klan dressed in their ghostly white robes. I didn’t understand then, but I do now—that evil is everywhere, hate is everywhere, prejudice is everywhere, and all that we have could slip away in a heartbeat.

    Count me in when you establish the Miller compound.

  3. Wow John – your images of what could happen to Britain made for frightening (and all too believeable) reading! Living in California the earthquake threat is always present and one of our neighbors rightly asked the question – if the big one hit and we have our emergency supplies and others don’t, how are we going to stop them from getting them? Our local volunteer said he couldn’t answer that – it was quite literally a ‘loaded question’. It got me thinking though that there really would be only one answer – that you would have to be armed and ready to do whatever you had to do. For an Aussie who grew up without any real gun culture that was frightening to think – but a reminder of the real state of the world today.

  4. Sorry John, but some of what you’ve written is complete and utter tosh.

    There is no Sharia law in Britain (I know because I’m a journalist living in Britain who covered this issue). Instead the Archbishop of Canterbury, to all intents the head of the Anglican Church, ruminated in a public speech about the possibility that a fully multi-cultural Western society would in some instances have to refer to Sharia law.

    He did not suggest that a Sharia court would or should happen in a Western democracy, merely that from a theoretical legal and moral standpoint we might need to recognise the legitimacy of Sharia law among some parts of the community in a multicultural society.

    Inevitably his speech got quoted out of context and all hell broke loose. The Archbishop was severely criticised in many quarters. In my view, rightly so as it was extremely naive of him to think someone in his position could blithely make such comments publicly without it being seen by some as incendiary. But in defence of the man, his motives were honourable, intellectually sound and offered in the spirit of creating debate – which it certainly did.

    As for some of the other comments you make, for instance that France, Britain and other nations are almost on the brink of an islamist takeover, slow down and think it through, mate.

    Muslim communities in western European nations rarely make up more than one percent of the overall population. Within those communities, radicalised fundamentalists are a tiny (albeit potentially dangerous) minority.

    Set against that you have parliamentary democracies and nation states that have been stable enough to resist considerable pressures (some much more threatening than that posed by a tiny minority of radicalised muslims) over a much longer period than, for example, the existence of the United States of America.

    Do you really think the notion of an Islamic revolution in a western European state is feasible outside the pages of a rather overblown thriller?

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