I just finished your novel (“Patriots”), after a marathon reading session that consumed my entire weekend. It was marvelous. I loved every aspect of the book except all of the religious references aimed towards Christians. Can a man of your obvious intelligence really believe that “being a good Christian” elevates someone morally to a higher level than perhaps a Muslim, Jew (yes you showed respect in the book for [a Jewish character’s] beliefs, but…), or myself a fence riding atheist? I want so much to believe in god, but it appears that god has abandoned this world.
Secondly, I have a logistical question that you may or may not be able to answer. I currently live in Florida, but I was born and raised in Wisconsin. If you are familiar with that part of the country do you think that upper Wisconsin, or the Upper peninsula of Michigan would be desolate enough to ride-out trouble that you and I both see coming? I grew up hunting and fishing…living off the land for our meals on camping trips, but I worry about being “cornered” by the Great Lakes. Am I just overly paranoid after reading your book or do I have a legitimate problem? I’m finally in a financial position to start preparing for the future good or bad; but it would be a moot point to in that area of the country if I have no means to leave if necessary. I miss the area terribly, and feel comfortable there knowing that I can survive and even thrive there without a map. I’m sure you get hundreds of similar e-mails like this, I’m no better or worse, smarter or dumber than any of the other people. What I would like to do sometime with you is debate theology with you; I’m always looking for someone to convince me there is a god; and if you play, I’d love to play chess with you. I’ve beaten champions, and been destroyed by hoboes in the park at the game. I find it mirrors life in a lot of ways. Thank you for your time and your efforts to save everyone. – P.J.S.
JWR Replies: Thanks for your e-mail. In answer to your first question, I sincerely believe that Judaism and Christianity constitute the moral underpinning in western societies, and that the Ten Commandments are the basis of our legal system.With devout faith, people behave well toward one another regardless of whether or not a formal system of law and order exists. But without faith, in the absence of law and order (such as during a major disaster or a societal collapse) I only expect to see anarchy, widespread theft, and violence. This is not to say that there are not atheists and agnostics that have morals. Some, like you, clearly do. But I believe that you are in the minority. For the past 40+ years, the state-run school systems have preached “moral relativism.” (in essence, claiming “There are no absolutes of right and wrong”, and “what is right for me may be wrong for you”, et cetera.) The product of this system has been two generations that now do their best to get away with whatever they can. The higher crime rates, gang violence, drug abuse, pornography, graffiti, shoplifting, et cetera are all clear evidence of this dramatic change. Much of this change has crept in insidiously. In a situation where law enforcement is non-existent, I am certain that the vast majority of people will have no compunctions to take what they want, and that good portion of them will kill without much hesitation. I would much rather have conservative Christians or Jews for neighbors. I hope that you can understand and appreciate my position. (Although since you are a non-Christian, I don’t expect you to embrace it.)
In answer to your second query, I cannot speak for Wisconsin, but I think that the Upper Peninsula (“U.P.”) of Michigan will probably be a good place to ride out an economic collapse, as long as you have a large firewood supply. (By which, I mean an honest three winter supply, already cut and stacked.) Water certainly isn’t a problem there. You will find that most of your neighbors will already be fairly self-sufficient. If and when things fall apart, I predict that the vast majority of refugees and looters from the major metropolitan centers such as Chicago will head south. The first winter without grid power will be enough to convince them of that! Thus, the U.P. will in all likelihood remain relatively intact. My only two areas of reluctance on this recommendation are 1.) The risk posed by the higher population density of the Midwest and Great Lakes region (versus the lightly populated intermountain west–the region that I most highly recommend), and 2.) The entire region would be downwind of fallout-producing ground bursts on the missile fields of Montana and Wyoming. Granted, this is a less likely scenario, but if it were to happen, I would not want to be downwind!
As for your concerned about getting “cornered”, in my opinion that would only be an issue on the U.P. if you were north of Houghton or out on Mackinac or Bois-Blanc Islands. Otherwise, there is plenty of room to maneuver.