One Second After: Rebuilding Society and Moral Questions

This is the eighth topic for our Group Book Discussion of the novel One Second After. To return to the main discussion page click here.

In the story, the community had a lot of tough questions to ask when it came to morals and rebuilding some form of a society. Some of the major leaders died, and new order and structure was needed. Decisions had to be made on who to give extra food rations to, and who to let become part of their society based on their knowledge and skills. After the battle with the looters, medics had to prioritize who to give medical attention to and who to just “let die”. There were some very emotional and thought-provoking moments throughout the book.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

  • Do you share your supplies with others?
  • Do you help the sick, what if they are contagious?
  • How would you balance the desire to feed and protect your family with the need to help an entire community?
  • How do you keep law and order when there is chaos all around?
  • What type of punishments are acceptable and who doles them out?
  • How do you start to organize a structure of government or community?
  • Would you know how to replenish food supplies on an ongoing basis? (crops and animals)
  • What do you think will be the new currency?
  • Who would be responsible for re-establishing the nation? The transit systems? Communications? Electric? Would we be left on our own to re-invent the wheel? Or do you think outside help would come and get things moving again?

DISCUSS

In our comments section below, ask questions, discuss your thoughts on this topic, and these questions. We will be covering a lot of the other issues over the next three days, so to keep it organized please stick with this topic.

We encourage everyone who participates to do so in a very respectful manner. As we read the novel, we soon became very aware that the discussions around this book could become very political, and personal. Such topics have a tendency to bring out strong opinions. Please share your opinions in a kind, and mature way. We reserve the right to, and will delete any comments that may be considered offensive or encourage illegal or unethical activities.

Click the links below to “subscribe by email” or “subscribe by rss” to help you easily follow the conversation and discussion after you make your posts.


  • TK

    I have some ideas on this but professionals like doctors and nurses would be best to make decisions about health issues. Very difficult decisions… the book was very enlightening.

  • melissa

    I thought I replied to this section but I guess not…

    I think this will be the hardest part.

    Do you share your supplies with others? this would be very difficult and would depend on the situation. A few people, I would try to give a little, maybe a meal to help them along the way. People wanting to move in? No, unless it’s family or someone I know that is willing to work and help rebuild our home/food supply. A large group moving down the road, no, I wouldn’t. I would try to have clean drinking water for them. But, who really know until the time comes.

    Do you help the sick, what if they are contagious? If I have meds that will help, I would give it to them, maybe a blanket if I have extra. Another depends on what.

    How would you balance the desire to feed and protect your family with the need to help an entire community? I would just have to pray and hope that I hear His voice.

    How do you keep law and order when there is chaos all around? I think there will be times where it’s “us four and no more”. Probably somewhere in the middle. At first, it might not be so tough but in the middle I think it’ll get really bad. Once the gov’t does step in and I know they will, unless there is a war that causes the situation. I believe they will be making arrangements to reach people. I’m sure in larger cities first but eventually it would trickle down to the smaller towns. How long will it take? I have no idea but the gov’t is too spoiled to just leave things be and let their families stay in those positions. In order to get their families out, they’ll have to help in some way to get everyone out. I don’t think it would take years for them to get steam engines rolling to get food from farmers to everyone else. well, maybe a couple of years but forever.

    What type of punishments are acceptable and who doles them out? I think it’ll come down to similar situations as in the book. Someone breaks into your home, you take care of it yourself.

    How do you start to organize a structure of government or community? I think this is where knowing your neighbors now will come in. Gov’t will start within each community.

    Would you know how to replenish food supplies on an ongoing basis? (crops and animals) I do know how to do a small garden but will definitely have to step it up because I’m not that good at it.

    What do you think will be the new currency? Bartering

    Who would be responsible for re-establishing the nation? The transit systems? Communications? Electric? Would we be left on our own to re-invent the wheel? Or do you think outside help would come and get things moving again? I think that some of it will be up to us for a long time, but I do believe the gov’t will be working on getting things going. Am I saying I trust the gov’t now? no, but I do believe something will happen because they are probably the most spoiled in the country and surely won’t want to do without.

    • Anonymous

      “Who would be responsible for re-establishing the nation? The transit systems? Communications? Electric? Would we be left on our own to re-invent the wheel? Or do you think outside help would come and get things moving again? ”

      having read your post i see you agree in the nation reordering itself community by community. as for who will be left to restablish communications, electric, and the transit systems? we ourselves are left to that. the infrastructure will begin from within. right now our infrastructure is too stretched out. it can’t support itself. if the city were cut off from the country and the food trucks…we would die of starvation. we have no way of supporting ourselves in the city.transit? anyone who is lucky enough to have a pre computerized car is lucky.
      anyone smart enough to be extremely ecological is ahead of the game!

  • Something occurred to me on the way to the store this morning, our agriculture and farming will take on a completely different look. Most of the farming around here is done with pivots b/c they are irrigated off an aquifer. When there’s no power, there’s no water and no running pivots. Wonder how many farmers have kept their old hand lines around?

  • Anonymous

    being a teacher i would help rebuild society one child at a time. i would incorporate 21st century teaching with 19th century technology. i would also incorporate boy scout and girl scout of america programs to increase the child and family’s survival. if i could i would utilize the method of school lunches that our ancestors used during the era of laura ingalls. apparently the teacher had stew on and the children would bring something from home. basically their own stone soup. what would i include? maybe i’d offer milk and rice. something is better than nothing.

    • mgariley

      apparently a 25lbs. bag of rice is sufficient. a 50 lbs. bag of rice for 6 months just might take you to 12 months.

  • funny I didn’t anticipate the depth of emotional conflict these issues drug up. My initial responce is to be hard hearted, but I find a lot of guilt arises. I am really not so sure I could watch people starve and eat well myself. malitia and martial law are the only way to have order but that requires joining a group, sharing resources, But in so doing there will be gardeners, animal experts, people who know how to rebuild and cooperative activities will make it all easier for everyone.

  • Anonymous

    * Do you share your supplies with others?
    * Do you help the sick, what if they are contagious?
    * How would you balance the desire to feed and protect your family with the need to help an entire community?

    I follow the Spirit. What would my Lord and Savior do in these circumstances? Yes I would help if lead to do so. Even if it could mean my own life was at risk.

    * How do you keep law and order when there is chaos all around?
    I hope to create law and order well before such an event ever happens. All the ministers I am working with & I call my Prep classes our quest to build the city of Enoch in our area. I pray as all of our churches works together we can create such a climate.

    * What type of punishments are acceptable and who doles them out?
    this can be a difficult area. While we might create a city of Enoch there will be outsiders intruding and it may call for extreme business to deal with. Hopefully our law enforcement will be able to handle these matters.

    * How do you start to organize a structure of government or community?
    Leaders are already in charge and hopefully they will be able to step up to the task to carry on in a true disaster.

    * Would you know how to replenish food supplies on an ongoing basis? (crops and animals)
    Yes that would be the easy part!

    * What do you think will be the new currency?
    Having already lived through a time when there was no currency to be had I already know what will happen. A good old fashion barter system will be set up. I store items we don’t use like sugar and coffee just for a time of barter. Those who use refined sugars and starches will have to have sugar just as those who use coffee and tobacco will need those items. perhaps we should be growing tobacco and storing the leaves.

    * Who would be responsible for re-establishing the nation? The transit systems? Communications? Electric? Would we be left on our own to re-invent the wheel? Or do you think outside help would come and get things moving again?

    After we get use to doing without will we want to go back to having it all? the 3 weeks we had with no electric or phones was so very peaceful we still occasionally turn it all off just to hear the total silence again.

  • J – newbie

    As others have noted … hard questions, needing lots of in-depth thought. This is another section of the discussion – questions and everyone’s comments – that I can only copy over to a folder and think about over time.

    Here’s my only specific hope: That our neighbourhood does in fact choose to work together beforehand re preparing and puts it into practice during emergency. Think this would result in us being one or two rungs up the ladder when it came time to rebuild. And, if other neighbourhoods did something similar (some chance of this based on what happens now), there’s potential for the city to get back on its feet a bit sooner … perhaps.

  • I’m surprised no one here has mentioned Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” and the movie based on the book.

    Some of these topics are brought up in both, and you get to see how they react on the questions above.

    The questions above are some of the tougher ones each of us are likely to have different answers for. I see some fairly non-descriptive answers below, and am also inclined in this post to only kick around the topics as certain ones become personal in how I would react.

    I have to say, good discussion board overall, though!

    Would like to see a similar board discussion about specific lists and how you might prepare for a “disaster” some day. This is tangible in what some people who are not prepared can do today or tomorrow.

    By this time everyone participating has realized the broad and complex work to be fully prepared at home. There are hundreds of topics, and you can micro-analyze each one.

    So much work, so little time in life to be prepared for God knows what is next…

  • Npp1966

    The above are hard questions to answer. Most of us would want to help others but, I don’t know if this is wise or not. I live in a neighborhood that if a poll is taken would probably find it leaning 75 – 80% to the hispanic side of which most are likely here illegallly. The language barrier would be hard to overcome. I need a spanish class obviously. Recently on a radio talk show they talked about a similiar situation happening like an emp and they said neighborhoods would most likely band together to make their own “towns” and each little “town” would have it’s own rules and “govening” powers that be. That in and of itself can be a scary thought. That’s why it would be nice to have more like minded preppers near me. Most people do not believe the unthinkable will happen.” the govenment will always be there we don’t need to learn how to take care of ourselves”. The aftermath of Hurrican Katrina should have opened peoples eyes but, that too is only a fleeting memory to those who did not actually experience it. What’s the old saying “hindsights 20/20”.All we can do is prepare for ourselves and our family and maybe address each event as it comes along.

    • Anonymous

      that’s how infrastructure starts up again. neighborhood by neighborhood. read jerry d. brown’s story on NEIGHBOR. the main character is a prepper with a problem. he lives in a cul-de-sac and has gone as far as he can in prepping without others taking note. so what does he do? he starts incorporating people in to the idea by utilizing the NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH program. in the story he let others come up with the ideas. those who protested about something got to be in charge of it.

      • Npp1966

        sounds like a good read I’ll look for it. The next book on my list is the “Patriot” and some more reading on the “Kathy in FL” series.

        • Patriots is a very good book and alike to this one. There is a ton of detail and you’ll find yourself wanting to make notes or highlight while reading.

          So many other good books out there that are topic specific too. I would strongly encourage “Build the perfect survival kit” by John McCann.

          You have to figure out what brands or make equipment sometimes he has in it, but it’s a great reference book to think about where you are and what you might need in these scenarios.

          • J – newbie

            I was aware of, but haven’t yet read, the first three books. Wasn’t familiar with the one by John McCann so ‘Net searched :-). FYI – he also has a web site … bepreparedtosurvive … with some articles and tips & tricks so worth a look.

            One tip that seems worth sharing here – for your 72-hour kit: Pack 1-2 [aluminum] loaf pans. They can be folded flat (he has pics showing how) and used for water carrying/boiling plus cooking. Such a simply think but it sure wasn’t on my radar.

  • Tuxgirl

    This is an issue I’ve struggled with in my theorizing. I wonder how to balance survival with being christlike. If I have food or supplies, can I, in good conscience keep it from others who have nothing? But, at the same time, can I share those items with others if it’s putting my family at risk?

    • Anonymous

      the christian in me tells me to prepare not just for myself and my family but for others as well. of course we all know we have to be carefull in giving out food. giving out food to a few homeless now is NOTHING. giving out food when EVERYONE IS STARVING can lead to your death. that’s why i appreciate the STONE SOUP method or the donating to a third party charity, better.

    • JULIE- Food Storage Made Easy

      This book has made me want to give copies to all my neighbors, community leaders, and friends. The more people who are prepared and self-reliant, the BETTER!

    • I’ve been wondering if it would be possible to donate food anonymously. For instance, taking a couple of cans of food (hidden) to a central location and dropping them off secretly. Does that even seem possible?

      • Anonymous

        yes i think so. know where your local food banks are ahead of time.

    • Great questions Tuxgirl!

      Would it not be fair to operate in a way that protects you and your family first and foremost, while having a sensitivity and caring Christian approach towards others? Sadly, there is not perfect answer that fits everything.

      I always explain to my wife that we have a basic order to go by with how we help others vs. taking care of our own needs, generally speaking.

      This is similar in how Marine’s say “God, Country, Corps” the way they do, when they do.

      For your family, you just have to figure out the order you can accept and see how it applies to each scenario presented to you.

      Ex. – God, Immediate Family, Extended Family, Friends, Neighbors, Strangers, etc.

      Not fun to debate putting an order to how you would react, but it’s something to really think about in theory what works best for you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    all this falls back to are you planning with anyone else to survive in the event of a major disaster? we all know disasters strike indiscriminantely. everyone in their life time will have ONE MAJOR DISASTER. will that disaster be universal or singular? in this scenario it’s universal. that missile launch of the coast of cali on monday is a great reminder. it’s officially a jet liner trail now, but not many people believe that. if you plan to survive with a group of people it’s easier to hold on to your morals. if you’re all alone, there is a slim chance you won’t make it. i plan to help as many people prepare in advance by telling them to have a one week supply ready for the big earthquake. for those who are not ready to prepare this is a good transition to listen to being prepared. i recommend to people i know the FREE CERT classes offered by their own city, sponsored by the federal government. i have a plan in helping rebuild society. it works person by person, house by house, block by block. that’s my circle of influence.
    with an emp we go back to square one. in the book the primary person states that we weren’t just thrown back to the 19 century, we were actually thrown back to midieval times. stating we are worse off than our 19th century ancestors because NONE OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE is there in place. worse is no open agrarian land to farm. in the beginning food will be the primary source of bartering. so will skills and other commodities. eventually money will make a comeback again.
    as i sat down pondering my neighborhood i googled it and found out i had 52 homes in my block alone! multiply that by 5 people per house and that’s 260 people. what would you do to help 260 people to survive? could you do anything? we obviously can’t do EVERYTHING, but we can do SOMETHING! mine would be to invite people to take part in STONE SOUP. KATHY IN FL mentions that in her story A WILL TO SURVIVE (which i recommend as the next group read!) people start getting hungry and do crazy things. the idea is to give people hope.

    • Melissa

      are you talking about that big orange/reddish cloud that they couldn’t identify before? If so, that was no jet liner trail. If it was, then we would have seen it before and would have known immediately what it was!!! The craziness of their excuses!

      I agree with the plan to rebuild the infrastructure…one person, one family, neighbors and it spreads out until all mini infrastructures meet to form some sort of completion.

      • Anonymous

        THAT’S THE ONE MELISSA. keep calling it a jet liner contrail. that was no jet liner! that was either a fighter pilot (which i’m more inclined to believe) or a missile! but you know. this is our 21st century ROSWELL. enjoy.

    • J – newbie

      Thank you for mentioning CERT. I ‘Net searched it, and just wanted to mention to people that the web site includes access to various tutorials & videos. Actual courses would be best, of course, but it seems possible to obtain some good info just from what they have posted.