A couple of years ago there was a massive series of ice storms in Springfield, MO that left the town devastated. My house lost power the first night and was one of the last to get power back. We were in the city and so did get power back sooner than more rural areas often do but we were unprepared. In total we lost power for 9 days and we did not have any means of heating the house without power because our gas furnace required electricity to run. It got below freezing a couple of those days so things were pretty miserable. I was eventually able to get a generator and we got heat in the house as well as lights and TV. I didn’t try hooking up my computer because I don’t trust a generator not to cook my computer.
As bad as things were we still had a ton of modern conveniences though. My cell phone worked and so did our cars. We were able to travel to warm places and take my daughter to the ER when she came down with bronchiolitis. She was admitted to the hospital and eventually got pneumonia but all of that was dealt with pretty quickly by the doctors and hospital staff so she is perfectly healthy now. I was even able to take my laptop to work and get on the internet so life went on with few hiccups.
I wonder, though, how things would go if I were suddenly transported to the 1800s. I watched a show on PBS a few years back called The 1800s House or something nearly the same. They took 3 families and set them up in a setting based on the 1800s and let them try to survive without modern conveniences. In the end they had experts see if their preparations would have gotten them through the winter. None of the families would have likely survived.
I think one of the big things that the families missed was community. If people were going to survive they likely couldn’t do it on their own. People tended to have larger families and stayed closer to their families. One of the USA’s greatest holidays is Thanksgiving. This is a celebration of community in which a group of people would have died in the winter except a larger community came along side them.
I don’t know if I would survive if I ended up without my modern conveniences. I don’t know if I could find, hunt, and grow all my food instead of going to the store and buying it. I’d like to think that I could but I know I would have to completely change my thinking.
I’ve been reading some interesting studies on the population explosion. It is interesting to note that most third world countries have large families and strong communities. It is also interesting that modern countries are trying to go into these places and teach them that they should use contraceptives or get abortions to keep families smaller and more sustainable. I think we are generally getting the cart before the horse when we try and force our culture onto a people that don’t have the kind of technology to allow our cultural norms to exist.
I guess this didn’t go the way you probably thought it was going to go. That is the nature of the twist. I have tried to think what things would be like if I were to step into the 19th century and then apply what I think would help me to survive against other early industrial societies, what we call third world countries. If we put ourselves in another’s shoes we are more apt to understand them, but for some reason we like to try and make them wear our shoes instead. Funny that.