Scouts' guide to the zombie apocalypseFriday, July 10, 2020
“The global tally of coronavirus infections has passed 10 million, with surges in multiple regions and the death toll approaching 500,000,” read the The New York Times banner story a few days ago. This and the feedback from my article 'COVID-19 pandemic or is it the zombie apocalypse?', published in the Jamaica Observer on Friday, May 1, 2020 on the similarities between the zombie apocalypse and the current 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic, have inspired me to do a follow-up.
When replying to a “concerned reader” who wrote to me personally, I told her I was a former Scout and referenced the organisation's motto: “Be Prepared!” This motto was the inspirational spark for this short narrative.
Now, I drew the title of this current article from an entertaining movie of the same name — I did not remember it while writing the first piece. However, I won't focus on the plot of the actual movie (even if there are similarities), but rather what I learned during my scouting days at Sts Peter & Paul Preparatory School Cub Scout Pack positioned against our coronavirus zombie apocalypse situation.
I tell my wife Francesca that it is a must that our two sons enrol in the Scouts. I see it as chock-full of incomparable life lessons. So what did I learn and how will it help with our Jamaican, Caribbean, and worldwide 'situation'?
One of the very first relevant things imprinted on me is the companion system. We Scouts never walk alone! Whatever endeavours we embarked on, we did it in pairs, or were split up into small groups. This is an essential rule for the zombie apocalypse.
Zombies can be cunning and, usually, where there is one there is another, or several. Therefore, a cohesive unit is always best when on guard duty, patrolling for survivors, or looking for food, medicine, and water. This is key! Drawing inspiration from the phrase “Science fiction to science fact”, and in today's world where literary fiction may become literal fact, one must travel in good old-fashioned packs, like the wolf pack strong throughout the storied history of scouting.
From early we were taught as Scouts to utilise things from a “raw environment” and make them useful. As public services and utilities shut down because we have become overrun by zombies, the clock will be reset, and one will have to live like “original man”; back to basics!
Therefore, the skills imparted to us through our Scout training, such as setting up camp, making a fire, cooking by camp fire, and using one's camping knife for just about everything, will make a huge difference.
We were also deeply ingrained with a sense of community. Nobody is an island. We must look out for others and always help the helpless and those in need/in need of assistance. As world systems collapse, more than ever we will need to be there for one another. To get ourselves back on track, society will have to rebuild through communities and community action! As one of the most profound African proverbs states: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Next on my guide is the code of honour. Any situation like this kind of mass crisis inevitably tests trust and doing the right thing among human beings. The times will be challenging and things will erode to a dog-eat-dog situation. No matter how hard, no matter the level of pressure, a Scout is always forthright and forthcoming. Our training and our ethos allow us to stand tall in any situation. No matter what, a Scout is someone you can always count on.
Lastly, and very importantly, we were taught to always be prepared. Life is filled with challenges and rocky roads and that we must have a mindset ready to embrace and hurdle those challenges. That we are human, we will stumble, we will fall, but we must never accept defeat or be self-defeated.
Jamaica, as with many parts of the Caribbean Community, is at a point where many, especially the youth, need these kinds of messages right now!
Will the zombie apocalypse fully come to reality? Who knows! Like a bookstore photo I saw on the Internet said: “The post apocalyptic fiction has been moved to our current affairs section.” So, who knows! But this is what I know for sure: Scouting has declined in Jamaica, and we would do very well to have it re-energised for the sake of today's and tomorrow's youth. The lessons I learnt at the Sts Peter & Paul Preparatory School Cub Scout Pack I carry with me still, some 30 years later, and shall continue to do so.
Nicholas McDavid is mobiliser, creative services provider and solutions finder at Ideas Hub. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or email@example.com.
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