Survivor: Nation-State Edition

Bill Tatro
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Posted: Apr 14, 2012 12:01 AM

It’s a deserted island and the name of the game is “The Survivor.” 

No, not the television show but something very similar.

On the island was everything needed in order to live a long and satisfying life for someone if they had help from others. 

In fact, if used in a thoughtful and commonsense manner, these so-called items would provide for the well-being of the current population of seven.  The fortunate survivors of various shipwrecks through the years, it was a diverse grouping consisting of one person each from China, Brazil, Russia, India, Japan, Europe, and the United States. 

The language barrier was surmounted by the common need to live. 

Unfortunately, the common need to live was soon replaced by the need to thrive which meant beggar-thy-neighbor.  As each new stranger arrived, that person discovered that cooperation would mean survival. 

However, after a while, they also discovered that in order to thrive it meant taking actions that would destroy their island mates in the long run yet ensure their original pre-island lifestyle.  This decision was easy.  They certainly thought they could outlast everyone else, after all hadn’t they already survived a shipwreck? 

In the meantime, a well-known fact all but ignored by the population of seven, the island was eroding.  As each person arrived, the initial job was to work together not only for day-to-day existence but also to keep the island afloat as well. 

However, as teamwork gave way to individualism parts of the island began breaking away. 

First, it was the European portion.  Next, the sections for Russia, India, and Brazil melted away.  And one day, the survivor from Japan was gone.  Thinking that all the remaining items could now be shared by the two remaining survivors, the decision was made to reaffirm their cooperation and work for their mutual good. 

After a while, though, both the Chinese and the American survivor began to think it would be grand to be alone individually on the island.  Indeed, everything would be theirs.  But what’s the best way to get rid of the other?  As harmony gave way to discord, the water kept rising and the island kept eroding. 

But no matter, each knew they had to have it all.  Finally, one day the American woke up to discover the Chinese portion of the island had slipped quietly into the sea.  “Hurray,” the American said, “I’ve won, this is all mine and now I can get on with my life and enjoy my pre-island standard of living.” 

Then, he listened and listened but could hear nothing.  The silence was deafening.  The normal chatter of his island mates was completely gone.  He was all alone.  “I won,” he shouted.  Then he felt an eerie sensation.  The water had risen to his knees and everything he longed for was floating away. 

“Help me,” he screamed.  “Help me!” 

But there was no one left to hear.