Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Collapse LXXXV: The Last Analgesic

09 April 20XX + 1

My Dear Lucilius:

I seem to be writing you a great more frequently now – again, I say “writing” as if these missives will somehow make their way to you at some point, which of course is completely unknown and unknowable at this point. Still, it does keep my mind active and gives me one more outlet for conversation as I fear I may be monopolize young Xerxes’ time when he stops by. Old men and their penchant for dragging the young into conversations, it seems.

While he was here, Xerxes asked if by chance I had any analgesics that I could part with.

I had to tell him to give a minute to look – I so seldom take medication of any kind if I can help it and especially analgesics, that I had to go looking. Sure enough, I found one unopened bottle, a well known commercial brand that was even within expiration date.

He explained that it was for someone that Stateira’s mother knew that was having a go around with a condition and needed painkillers and that there was (seemingly) little that could be found. What, he asked, would I be willing to trade for it?

I looked at the bottle in my hand. The fact (as I now realized) that I did not have more was a little surprising to me as I try to keep a supply of such things on hand, but not that surprising – as mentioned, I tend to put off the unnecessary medications whenever I can (bearing in mind the mantra that was beaten into me when I started in my industry long ago, “All medications have side effects”). I suppose it would have value – almost anything that is of the old world and is within an expiration date will, of course – but it is not like I have been wanting for anything right now.

I told him to just take it.

He protested of course, tried to convince me that there must be something I would want in return. I told him there was nothing I could think of and besides, at the rate I used such things they were likely to go out of date long before I finished them.

He thanked me profusely of course, to which I muttered something about “Paying it somewhere” or some such thing that was a saying 30 years ago that was put in place instead of simply saying “you are welcome” to such a response.

Later that day a note, bag of cookies, and lettuce leaves mysteriously showed up on my doorstep after a quick rapping and the sound of an ATV driving away. The note was from Stateira and her mother, who was as profuse in their thanks as Xerxes had been. The cookies were for myself, and the lettuce was for the rabbits.

The rabbits are always happy for such kind generosity. And cookies have never, ever, not been a fine way to convey gratitude.

It strikes me as remarkable, Lucilius how we have had to find ways to disguise doing a deed of merit which should be done for no other reason than it is a deed of merit by making them sound like we are noble. Even in the midst of such straightened circumstances as we find ourselves – I here, you there – we should never reach the point where generosity is beyond us or must be more about us than about the good the action is doing.

When everything becomes a transaction, we all become poorer.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. That will be the ultimate test for preppers I suppose: when the normies and zombies come around begging for handouts. Or worse - the moms with kids that are hungry and haven’t lifted a finger to help themselves. In the real world you won’t be able to feed them all because we now have entire generations and communities addicted to welfare, and our rulers import more by the thousands every day.

    If I recall, Rand made some very interesting observations about altruism and gave me the impression that she might even regard it as a sin. I know my grandparents were flat out against welfare, and even “workfare” was seen as a disgraceful handout. They’d crawl miles on hand an knee rather than take a handout. When the lights go out and these entitled monsters stop getting their trough filled… they are going to go hunting, and I doubt the story will have a happy ending. I cannot see small isolated alternative or parallel societies holding against the onslaught headed our way.

    1. Rand was very much against altruism Glen, you remember that correctly. In terms of hunting, yes - although keep in mind that "hunting" will likely be largely measured in a day's travel or a tank of gas (300 miles or so)? That is why living in the urban environment (like I do) is such a concern.

      We have raised generations to think that the world owes them a living. In the end, somewhat sadly, the world will not care.

  2. Love your story telling. Oh yeah, the rest of yer blog is pretty good too. Thanks for sharing your talent.

    1. Thank you very much Mike! It is very much appreciated, especially after (another) long day!

  3. I'm guessing this one struck a chord in all of us. Would we have done the same as Seneca if in the same situation? Always something interesting to ponder.

    1. Leigh, I have enough problems with my own charitability on a good day. I cannot imagine being in such a circumstance as what Seneca faces.

      This is something that C.S. Lewis wrote rather persuasively abut in Mere Christianity, suggesting that if our charity is not hampering us from doing anything we want, we are not being charitable enough.


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